Having a smell you can’t identify in your home is like having an itch you can’t scratch. It’s annoying, frustrating, and (unlike your common itch) it can be dangerous.

To improve your mental and physical wellbeing, it’s important to investigate and get to the bottom of things. Plus, it will save you from embarrassment if you have guests over. 

Here are 9 potential reasons your home or room smells musty.

1. Dirty Appliances

Dirty Appliances

Appliances around your home can give off bad smells. 

For those involving water, this could be due to the slow build-up of mold. Tackle one appliance at a time starting with your refrigerator.

Put all perishing food into a garbage bag and place it outside of your home. From there, put the food that’s still good on the counters and give your refrigerator and freezer a wipe-down with cleaner and a rag. Let it dry and air out before putting your food back in.

From there, move to the dishwasher. Remove all dishes, wipe down the inside including the rubber seal and utensil basket, and give it an empty run with soap on the dry-heat cycle.

Finally, check to see how your washing machine is doing. Moisture can easily build up in front-loading machines, so be sure to leave it open for a few hours after you use it to let it dry. If you find that this is the source, do an empty run with equal parts white vinegar and baking soda to get rid of the mustiness.

2. Funky Garbage Disposal

It’s possible that the smell is coming from food particles in your garbage disposal.

While it’s off, carefully give it a wipe down with gloves, cleaner, and a disposable sponge. Then, place a few citrus peels in it and run the disposal while turning on your faucet. This can help remove grime from the hard to reach places while creating a citrus fragrance.

3. Dangerous Contaminants

There’s a big difference between bad smells and dangerous smells. It’s important to note that smells coming from paint, mold, and smoke are incredibly bad for your health.

Fresh paint gives off harmful volatile organic compounds, so you should always have ventilation while it dries.

If you suspect you have mold in your home, try to locate where it is and determine how bad the problem is. You should hire a professional to inspect your home and remove it if this is the case.

The same goes for smoke residue — it’s very hard to remove yourself. It’s essential, however, as third-hand smoke lingers on walls, doors, cloth, furniture, flooring, and even tiles.  This can happen from your neighbors smoking, the previous tenants, and from your smoke breaks far away from your home.

To make sure the mustiness isn’t coming from contaminants, you should get indoor air quality testing to identify what’s in the air you’re breathing. 

4. Lingering Animals

It doesn’t matter if you have a furry friend or not — pets tend to leave odors in their wake.

This can happen from non-furry pets, too, like reptiles and fish. Be sure to clean the tanks of all enclosed animals regularly and if you have a free-roaming pet, vacuum and mop regularly.

5. Creepy Cloths

It’s not that the fabrics in your home are inherently creepy. It’s just that scents stick to fabrics more because they are porous.

Cloths that can emit smells include:

  • Bedding
  • Blankets
  • Carpet
  • Clothes
  • Curtains rugs
  • Furniture
  • Decor

This can be due to dirt, mold, or scents from previous owners.

You can place the loose fabrics in the washing machine (it may take a few runs), dry clean the fragile items, and have professional carpet cleaning to solve these issues.

6. Problematic Leaks

Inspect the plumbing in your kitchen and bathroom(s) to determine if there are any water leaks. If there are, it could be a simple fix only requiring plumbers tape. If it’s more severe, you’ll want to hire a plumber.

The smell may also be coming from the water itself. For example, you may smell rotten eggs if there is a lot of sulfur in your water. This can be fixed using high-quality water filters. 

While you’re checking for leaks, you may also want to smell for a skunky, gassy smell. This can indicate a gas leak, which is an extremely dangerous fire hazard. In this case, open up your windows, step outside of your home, and call a professional.

7. Burning Electrical

Burning Electrical

If the musty smell isn’t egg-like or skunky, perhaps it’s more of a fishy-smell. This can happen when electrical wiring and appliances aren’t working properly.

You should identify the source or area where this smell is coming from. Switch off the power to this room using your breaker panel and call an electrician. Burning electrical smells can indicate that wires or materials are melting, which is extremely dangerous.

8. Forgotten About Messes

Perhaps the smell isn’t severe or specific. This could come from areas of your home being dirty, which is an easy fix.

Deep clean your home starting with the area that smells the worst. Be sure to wipe down all surfaces, especially your trash cans and counters, and remove all disposable waste. Replace old sponges, wash old rags, and get ready to roll up your sleeves.

Alternatively, you can hire a professional cleaner to get into the nooks and crannies.

9. Lack of Airflow

In addition to other problems, the musty smells in your home may be lingering due to a lack of airflow. If your home has high humidity and doesn’t have enough ventilation, it can trap and intensify any smell.

If needed, purchase fans to provide more air circulation. Open windows when you can, use fresh A/C filters and consider adding an essential oil diffuser to your room to make sure the air stays pure.

You can also get houseplants to naturally offer clean air.

If Your Home or Room Smells Musty, Get Rid of It

If you discover that your room smells musty from one of these sources, be sure to take care of it immediately. This may mean slapping on some gloves or simply calling a professional.

Whatever you choose, you can rest knowing that you’re taking care of the problem and your home won’t smell bad anymore.

Keep reading our blog for more tips and tricks to improve the sanctuary of your home.