How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell
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How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell: Must-Know Guidelines

Mold smell, like other irritating odors, could make your home become an unattractive place. So as soon as you sniff the mold around the corner, you need to find a way to eliminate it immediately because the mold will spread quickly and create more discomfort for you and your family members.

Depending on the part of the house attacked by the mold, which I will list and share specifically below, I will give you step-by-step guides to easily handle the job yourself.

Usually, there are a few pro tips that you need to keep in mind to make sure everything goes well and prevents mold from coming back. Don’t worry because I tend to repeat them throughout my article so that you won’t miss any of them.

Let’s get started now.

About Mold Smell

Before digging deeper into helpful tips to remove mold smell, it would be best if you spend time collecting some general knowledge about mold in the following section

What Does Mold Smell Like?

Mold is simply a fungus and thrives on moisture indoors or outdoors. It reproduces thanks to tiny spores that can travel through the air. These spores are hard to see with the naked eye. There are many types of molds, but they all need water to live in.

Usually, a mold smell is not very strong, but it will produce a musty smell when it reaches a certain density. To illustrate, it might be like the smell of damp clothes in the rainy season or the smell of rotting wood, sometimes like the earth’s smell. Believe it or not, it’s not an odor you enjoy around your house.

Is Mold Dangerous?

The spores from mold can penetrate indoor environments and cause some common symptoms such as sneezing, cough, nasal congestion, and more.

Mold can also cause allergies in some people, making them have a skin rash, watery eyes, and make asthma worse.

What Causes Mold?

  • Humidity: High humidity level allows mold to thrive quickly and soon produces a very unpleasant smell. You can find mold almost everywhere on walls, carpet, microwaves, cupboards, ceilings, rugs, or even on your books and papers.
  • Cooking: The smell is also created from your cooking activities. As you might know, kitchens are the location of kitchen cabinets, kitchen sinks, dishwashers, water pipes, refrigerators, and more. The daily operation of all kitchen appliances might accumulate excess moisture and humidity, bringing musty odors to your places.
  • Hygiene: Maybe you are too busy the whole time, so you don’t clean the house regularly, leading to smelly rooms.
  • Air conditioner: Air conditioners have not been cleaned for a long time, especially replace or clean the filter.
  • Others: Things in your house like old shoes, clothes, carpet, trash cans, and more

The following video will provide you with a lot of information about mold so that you feel ready to start dealing with them.

Watch video: 4 Things You Should Know About Mold & Mildew

Where To Begin?

Don’t worry too much because mold smells are annoying but not too difficult to handle. And the good news is there are many different ways to attack and make them disappear for a long time. I will make a list of essential products that you need to prepare before embarking on the task and also suggest an effective cleaning solution.

Products You’ll Need In Order To Remove Mold Smell

Because you’re just an amateur mold cleaning worker, it’s best to equip yourself with the things you need to protect yourself and speed up your productivity

  • Face mask: Wearing a mask to avoid breathing mold spores and chemicals when cleaning.
  • Protective glasses: Mold can cause itchy and burning eyes; therefore, wearing protective glasses is essential.
  • Rubber gloves: You don’t want your hands and skin to get exposed to strong chemicals.
  • Scrubber: You will need a high-quality scrubber with soft bristles to scrub off any moldy spots, especially large ones.
  • Toothbrush: If the area is quite small and narrow, a toothbrush might be a more effective option.
  • Cleaning rags: After the cleaning process, you use rags or absorbent cloths to remove residual mold and moisture.
  • Plastic bags: Use these to keep all the material and discard as soon as you finish.

Helpful Tips You Should Know

To optimize the cleaning outcome and prevent mold from coming back to your house, you should follow some of the following tips:

  • Disable HVAC systems: Turn off heating, air conditioning, or ventilation system so that the mold spores don’t go into the system and get caught in it. As such, you can make sure that you have eliminated its presence from your house.
  • Open your windows: Before attacking the musty, moldy area, don’t forget to open all the windows and let fresh air in. Good ventilation is a prerequisite to improve current conditions.
  • Open all compartments: Open your cupboards, drawers, cabinets, and more to let the air circulate and refresh.
  • Separate the affected area: Clean one room at a time to prevent mold spores from flying all over the house.
  • Use air purifiers and dehumidifiers: These appliances will be useful in terms of clearing indoor environments.

Essential Substances For Removing Mold Smell

Fortunately, there are many mold removal recipes that are easy to made using household ingredients. Also, if you don’t opt for DIY solution, I’ll give you some store-bought options. Let’s find out below.

Vinegar And Baking Soda

Vinegar is known for its effectiveness when it comes to removing mold. It’s a natural and easy-to-find ingredient right in your kitchen.

How to use:

  • Step 1: Use regular white distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar.
  • Step 2: Spray directly on the mold spots.
  • Step 3: Let the vinegar sit on the surface for a while.
  • Step 4: Mix baking soda with water and spray on the mold.
  • Step 5: Scrub vigorously with a large brush.
  • Step 6: Rinse with water and let it dry.

Borax Powder

Borax is a natural white powder that is often found in cleaning products. With a high pH level of 9.3, the borax powder can destroy the ideal environment for mold growth (mold prefers pH level from 3 to 7); therefore, it kills mold effectively.

How to use:

  • Step 1: Mix a cup of borax with warm water.
  • Step 2: Shake it well to dissolve the borax faster and more completely.
  • Step 3: Spray the solution on the infected place.
  • Step 4: Give it a good scrub until the mold disappears.
  • Step 5: When the area gets dry, spray a bit of borax on it.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide kills bacteria, viruses, fungi, and mold. The 3 percent solution is ideal for household cleaning and disinfecting.

How to use:

  • Step 1: Pour the 3% hydrogen peroxide into a glass sprayer.
  • Step 2: Spray where the mold is visible.
  • Step 3: Wait until the peroxide stops bubbling.
  • Step 4: Let it sit for more than 10 minutes.
  • Step 5: Wipe the surface down and let it dry.

Rubbing Alcohol and Vodka

Rubbing alcohol and vodka might not be as bold as other mold removal products. However, with the alcohol concentrate no less than 70%, these solutions still can work wonders.

How to use:

  • Step 1: Spray rubbing alcohol or vodka directly on the infected surface.
  • Step 2: Allow sitting for about half an hour.
  • Step 3: Spray one more time if necessary.
  • Step 4: Let it dry.

Commercial Mold Removal Products

Whether it’s stubborn mold stains on the surface of wood, carpet, bathtub, shower, fabric, canvas, or marble, you can find useful mold cleaner products to buy on the market.

You might want to pay attention to some essential factors, such as mold types, mold location, speedy effect, and effectiveness of the product, before choosing the best option.

My go-to product is SKYLARLIFE Mold and Mildew Cleaner for its powerful formula and easy-to-apply property. This product can eliminate all types of mold and make your space look brand new.


Bleach is capable of killing most household fungi and their spores, including molds. However, bleach can’t penetrate through porous materials; it will only kill the mold on the surface and not harm the underlying membrane. Therefore, mold might come back soon.

How to use:

  • Step 1: Pour the bleach on the affected surface.
  • Step 2: Scrub to remove the mold.

Essential Oils

Here are some recommended essential oils for home cleaning

  • Cinnamon Oil
  • Oregano Oil
  • Lavender Oil
  • Clove Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil

How to use:

  • Step 1: Dilute essential oils in water and pour them into a hand sprayer.
  • Step 2: Spray directly on the moldy position.
  • Step 3: Wipe down the mold with a cleaning rag or sponge.
  • Step 4: Add essential oils to your diffuser to banish the unpleasant smell.

How To Remove Mold Smell?

For the sake of different spaces and furniture in the house contaminated with mold, there will be different treatments to get the optimal results.

How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell From Clothes?

If clothes are left in a damp condition for a long time, they can develop a musty smell which is quite difficult to get rid of. Not to mention, the mold can appear as many black dots on the surface of the fabric. Let’s discover some suggestions for musty laundry odors below.

What You Need:

  • Vinegar, essential oils
  • A bucket with hot water
  • A brush

Step by Step Instructions For Washing Machine

  • Put your clothes in the washing machine and select the hottest water setting
  • Add distilled white vinegar to your washing machine
  • Keep clothes stay soaked in the washing machine for a while
  • Let it run a normal wash cycle

Step by Step Instructions For Hand Washing

If you only have a shirt or pants or a small cloth to clean, hand washing is just right. Also, hand washing allows you to directly attack stains and easy to focus on cleaning properly.

  • Use a brush to remove as much mold as possible
  • Prepare a bucket of hot water
  • Add vinegar or any of the mold remover mentioned above, except for bleach
  • Soak the clothes with this solution for 20 to 60 minutes
  • Scrub them again to clear the remaining mold
  • Add laundry detergent and wash
  • Rinse and dry

Pro Tips

  • Remove garments from the washer without delay, shake each piece before transferring to the dryer. It’s the quickest way to eliminate moisture from clothes
  • Hang clothes under the sun if weather permits. UV light kills 100% mold and spores effectively; therefore, it can remove musty smell permanently
  • It would be helpful if you wash clothes, towels, and other garments constantly and don’t let them stay in a moist and humid environment for a long time
  • Check the rubber gasket of front-loading machines to see if it gets moldy. Because the washing machine mold might get into the fabric and pose a threat to your health, you should eliminate it as soon as it presents. I will write a separate section about how to clean the washing machine from musty smell

How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell From Washing Machines?

A Washington machine turns out to be an ideal environment for mold growth, especially a front loader washing machine because there are many parts of this household appliance that are left wet after the washing cycle finishes. The foul smell from mold could transfer to clothes you put in it and affect your health in the long term.

For hygienic reasons, you should clean it once a month with a cleaning mixture I mention below.

What You Need:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Lemon juice
  • A washing machine
  • A bucket with hot water
  • A brush

Step by Step Instructions

  • Prepare a mold removal solution by mixing hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice
  • Pour the mixture into a spray bottle
  • Spray over the mold on the gasket
  • Use a cleaning rag to sweep the gasket completely
  • After that, add the mixture and let the washer run a cycle with the hottest water setting. This way, you can disinfect the drum and hose

How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell From Carpets?

Carpets, especially ones in basements, bathrooms, and kitchens, are often more likely to be attacked by mold. It’s not always easy to spot mold on the carpet, so you should now and then check both sides of the carpet to be sure.

What You Need:

  • Vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • HEPA vacuum
  • Carpet Steam Cleaner
  • Hairdryer

Step by Step Instructions

This guide is for carpets contaminated with mold in small areas, and if you find that mold has spread all over the place, it is best to replace the carpet to ensure the health of the whole family

  • Pour a moderate amount of vinegar onto the infected area’s surface so that the vinegar reaches the underneath carpet.
  • Apply the baking soda all over the spot to absorb moisture and bad odors. Let it sit for a few hours
  • Using a HEPA vacuum to clean the powder and discard the vacuum bag immediately
  • Steam clean treated area using McCulloch MC1385 Carpet Steam Cleaner
  • It would be helpful if you could bring it outside and let it dry under the sun. As such, the carpet will smell cleaner and fresher

Pro Tips

  • Cotton cloth or towels will be useful in terms of removing excess moisture from the carpet
  • Turn on the fan or use the hairdryer to dry the carpet faster
  • Open the windows for better airflow in the house
  • A dehumidifier might also be helpful

How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell From Bathrooms?

Bathrooms are perfect places for mold growth because they maintain warm and humid conditions most of the time.

What You Need:

  • Borax powder
  • Gloves with wash scrubber
  • Toothbrush
  • Essential oils

Step by Step Instructions

  • Remove all your products from the bathtub or shower. Collect all used towels and rugs outside the room.
  • Remove all unnecessary items in the bathroom to keep it airy
  • Dissolve the borax powder in warm water into a natural mixture for cleaning
  • Spray on mold spots and scrub vigorously until all the mold is removed completely
  • Pay attention to bathtub caulk mold. You can remove it by applying bleach and use a toothbrush to scrub the mold
  • Keep your bathroom well-ventilated by opening windows and turn on the exhaust fan
  • Spray your bathroom with essential oils

To illustrate, you can watch this video to know how to kill mold with Borax step by step:

Watch video: How To Kill Mold With Borax

How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell From Books?

Books tend to absorb moisture easily because they’re made from porous materials. Based on my own experience, dealing with a musty, moldy book is quite challenging and requires a lot of patience.

What You Need:

  • A toothbrush, soft brush, or sponge
  • An absorbent cloth
  • Wax papers
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Tea tree oil

Step by Step Instructions

  • For the book cover, you can use a toothbrush, a soft brush, or a sponge to clean it gently. Add a drop of tea tree oil to prevent the mold from coming back
  • For book pages, spray denatured alcohol on a cloth, then use it to wipe the mold
  • Separate the treated pages by sandwiching the wax paper between each page
  • Instead of laying down, keep books stand up and let them dry thoroughly
  • You can use the fan or hairdryer in the gentle speed mode

How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell In Basement?

Your basement is the lowest part of the house and near the ground; therefore, they are damp and pose a high risk of mold contamination. From my point of view, mold prevention is key.

What You Need:

  • Plastic totes
  • Baking soda or white vinegar

Step by Step Instructions

  • Declutter your basement regularly
  • Remove wet rugs and clothes
  • Clean or discard infested furniture
  • Use plastic totes to store unused things
  • Inspect any leaks in your basement and plan to fix it
  • Place bowls of baking soda or vinegar around the basement. Baking soda will absorb smells and moisture in the air

How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell From Car?

No one wants to step into a smelly car and has to cover her nose all the way to the office. Inspect the smell carefully, and if it’s a kind of musty odor, then you know mold has already grown in your car. Thankfully, it’s a pretty easy solution.

What You Need:


  • Open the car door all the way to allow air to circulate and reduce unpleasant odors
  • Remove unnecessary things in your car
  • Examine all over the place and remove any source of mold, for example, foods, drinks, wet, and used clothes, and more
  • For carpet, flooring, and spilled drink spots, use a toothbrush to scrub away the mold
  • Use a wet/dry vac cleaner to vacuum the remaining mold and a hairdryer to dry the car interior
  • Sprinkle baking soda on affected areas and let it sit for an hour

When To Hire A Mold Removal Pro?

Here are some reasons why it would be better if you call for a pro as soon as possible:

  • You can smell the mold, but you can’t find the source or discover any moisture problem around the house
  • The mold area is quite large, and you can’t handle it yourself
  • The mold keeps showing up

Frequently Asked Questions

Below is a list of answers to the most common questions related to getting rid of mold smell. Take your time to look at them for more knowledge about this problem.

How quickly can mold start growing?

Mold occurs within 24 to 48 hours and will begin to colonize in 1 to 12 days. Therefore, as soon as you notice any moisture problems, such as wet carpets, a leaky faucet, a leaking air conditioner, you should fix it right away.

Is removing mold dangerous?

If you’re sensitive to fungi, you might experience some allergic symptoms such as coughing and sneezing.

Otherwise, as long as you wear a face mask, protective glass, and gloves, you will be safe when handling small mold spots around your house. For large infected areas, call for a professional.

Does mold smell go away?

Spraying an air freshener and waiting for the musty smell to disappear might be a short-term method to cope with unpleasant odor in your house. For optimal results, you should find the source where the mold smell starts.

What is the best thing to absorb odors?

There are many household ingredients at your disposal, for example, baking soda, salt, vinegar, alcohol, and ground coffee, to name a few.

How can I keep my house smell fresh?

First, decluttering your entire house every month to keep it clean and tidy, then add essential oils to the air filter or burn some aromatic candles.

Will mold die if it dries out?

If the environment becomes inhospitable to mold, mold spores become inactive and wait for the ideal condition to thrive again. That’s why you should remove them completely to prevent them from coming back.

At what temp does mold die?

Extreme hot or cold can kill mold. It tends to be terminated at temperatures of 140-160°F.

Will a dehumidifier kill mold?

No, it won’t. A dehumidifier simply reduces humidity in the air and makes rooms stay in damp-free conditions. As such, it’s a good way to prevent mold from your space.

Is mold worse in summer or winter?

Dry air and extremely cold weather are two factors that hinder mold growth. Therefore, mold spores are less active in this time of year than in the summertime.

Extra Tips To Keep Your House Mold-Free And Smell Good

The most practical way to keep your house clean and fresh is to prevent it from breeding mold in the first place. Below are some ways you can easily refer to:

  • Set up dehumidifiers in your house, or you can make homemade dehumidifiers from baking soda, charcoal briquettes, and cat litter.
  • Ceiling fans and exhaust fans are needed in the kitchen, laundry, and bathroom.
  • Repair leaky faucet and drain hose immediately.
  • Clean and replace the filter of air conditioners periodically.
  • Paint your house with mold-resistant products.

Last but not least, this video will tell you everything you need to bear in mind to keep your home clean and fresh:

Watch video: How To Prevent and Remove Mold at Home
How To Get Rid Of Mold Smell

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Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones

Home Cleaning Specialist

Expertise: In-depth Knowledge of Cleaning Agents and Their Uses, Advanced Home Sanitization, Techniques Expertise in Cleaning and Maintaining, Various Floor Types, Innovations in Home Cleaning Tools

School: American College of Home Economics

Kevin Jones is a seasoned home cleaning specialist with over a decade of experience in the industry. A stickler for cleanliness and organization, Kevin brings a systematic and innovative approach to home maintenance. His expertise ranges from traditional methods to modern cleaning technology, ensuring homes are not just clean but healthy environments too.

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