Remove musty smells from your home: causes and countermeasures for a healthy indoor climate

Dunkler, feuchter Kellerraum

Musty smells in the home are unpleasant and can become a burden for residents. They not only affect well-being, but can also be dangerous to health. To get rid of the stench, you should first uncover the origins of unpleasant smells . Because once you know where the smell is coming from, it is usually easy to eliminate it and prevent this type of odor from occurring again. In the following article, we examine the various causes of musty smells in the home and explain effective measures to counteract them .

What could be the cause of the musty smell in the apartment?

There are more than enough causes for musty smells in the home. Some are obvious and can be discovered quickly. Others, however, are hidden and wait to be found. The most common sources are:

Moisture & mold

One of the most common causes of musty smells in the home is moisture. High humidity promotes the growth of mold and other microorganisms that are responsible for unpleasant smells . Mold forms particularly in poorly ventilated rooms, such as bathrooms or kitchens, where water vapor from the shower and cooking cannot escape properly.

Stagnant air indoors

Insufficient air circulation promotes the accumulation of odors. Musty odors can arise especially in closed rooms that are rarely or never ventilated, as pollutants and stale air accumulate .

Poor cleaning habits

Clutter and dirt encourage the development of unpleasant smells. Dirty laundry, untidy food scraps, dirty cat litter boxes and contaminated surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom can also cause bad smells to spread throughout the home and negatively affect the air in the room.

Drainage problems

Clogged drains and leaky pipes can cause water damage and thus also promote the development of musty odors.

Moisture from plants

Plants in the home can increase the humidity. Although houseplants are generally good for the indoor climate, you should make sure that their care does not lead to excess moisture . Excessive watering not only has a negative effect on the health of your plants. The indoor climate also suffers, which is first noticeable in the form of a musty smell .

Sunlit room with lots of plants

Image source: ChatGPT Image Generator

Inappropriate furniture or materials

Furniture or building materials that absorb moisture and dry poorly can contribute to the formation of odors and, ultimately, can also trigger mold.

Apartment smells musty: 4 measures to eliminate the smell

To get rid of the smell as quickly as possible and prevent the formation of mold, you should act as quickly as possible. Use the following tips to get rid of bad smells:

  1. Regular ventilation: Regular ventilation is essential to prevent musty smells in the apartment. Open the windows wide several times a day for about 10-15 minutes and let in fresh air. This will reduce the humidity and prevent mold from forming.
  1. Control humidity: Controlling the humidity is crucial. A hygrometer, which measures the humidity in the various rooms, provides clarity and shows you when it is too high. If the humidity is too high , dehumidifiers or placing open bowls with salt or cat litter as moisture absorbers can help.
  1. Thorough cleaning: Regular and thorough cleaning is essential to prevent musty smells. This includes vacuuming, wiping and dusting all surfaces. Careful cleaning should be taken, especially in damp rooms such as the bathroom. Environmentally friendly all-rounders such as the concentrates from Emma Grün are perfect for antibacterial and streak-free cleaning with a fungicidal effect (against mold) .
  1. Mold removal: Mold infestation should be removed immediately. The market has special cleaning products and mold removers for this purpose. Essential oils such as lemongrass or cedar wood can be particularly helpful here. But be careful: If the infestation is severe, you should seek professional help and have the mold removed by an expert!
Cleaning concentrates with cedarwood and lemongrass from Emma Grün against musty odors

Remove musty smell in the room: home remedies for a healthy indoor climate

Removing musty smells from your home does not always require the use of expensive cleaning products. There are many effective home remedies that can help eliminate unpleasant smells. The following all-rounders have already proven themselves in practice:

  • Vinegar : Vinegar is a real all-rounder and also has deodorizing properties. To eliminate odor-causing bacteria and for a streak-free shine, mix white vinegar with water in a ratio of 1:1. This sustainable solution is suitable for cleaning insensitive surfaces and floors. You can also use this household remedy to get your refrigerator sparkling clean again and remove unpleasant odors in the same step.
  • Baking powder or baking soda : Baking powder and baking soda have absorbent properties and can bind unpleasant odors. To combat these, prepare your carpets and upholstered furniture with one of the propellants, let it work for a few hours and then simply vacuum the powder away. It also works in cupboards!
  • Coffee powder : Coffee is another absorbent home remedy that will help you get rid of the musty smell. For a pleasant-smelling result, all you have to do is fill a bowl with the aromatic powder and place it in the affected room. You will see: after a few hours, the musty smell will be just a bad memory.
  • Citrus fruits : Citrus fruits have a pleasant scent and can mask unpleasant odors. Simply cut a lemon or orange into slices and place it in a bowl in the middle of the room.
  • Activated carbon : Activated carbon is known for its odor absorption properties. Activated carbon filters or small bags placed in the rooms are suitable for reducing unpleasant odors.
  • Air-purifying houseplants : Some houseplants not only have decorative purposes but can also improve air quality and reduce odors. Plants like snake plant ( Sansevieria ), money plant ( Epipremnum aureum ) and aloe vera are known to filter bad odors and purify the air.
  • Fragrant herbs and spices : Rosemary, lavender, thyme or cinnamon sticks give off a pleasant aroma and can be placed in small bowls in the room. The great thing about them: They not only give off a pleasant scent, but also look decorative.
  • Vinegar & Baking Soda : An effective way to combat stubborn odors is to make a paste of vinegar and baking soda. It's great not only for cleaning dirty surfaces, but also for clogged drains that stink to high heaven.
  • Scented bags : You can also make your own scented bags by packing dried lavender flowers, lemon peel, cloves or other fragrant herbs in fabric bags. To enhance or freshen up the natural aroma, we recommend that you also prepare them with a natural aroma oil .
  • Natural odor neutralizers: Sustainable textile fresheners such as the Emma-Green odor neutralizer spray are not only harmless to the environment. Since you always have them to hand, they are also extremely practical. They also tackle the smelly problem at its root and do not just cover it up, as is often the case with conventional products. Antibacterial agents such as zinc salts are responsible for the positive effect. They fight the bacteria that cause unpleasant odors effectively and completely without allergy-causing ingredients or artificial flavorings.

Emma Green Tip: Using air purifiers can help clean the air of particles and odors. There are different types of air purifiers, including those with HEPA filters, activated carbon filters or UV light, which can help improve air quality.

To prevent moisture from penetrating the masonry, special paints and materials with moisture barriers can be used in rooms such as the bathroom.

Prevent musty smell indoors: preventive measures

The fact is: prevention is better than cure . To prevent musty smells from developing in your home and becoming a stinking issue, we have a few tips for you:

  • Regular inspections: Regular inspections of the home can help identify and eliminate potential sources of moisture or mold early.
  • Proper food storage: To avoid unpleasant odors, food must be stored properly.
  • Proper drying of laundry: When drying laundry in the home, make sure there is sufficient ventilation. Otherwise, the moisture will remain in the interior and cause a musty smell over time.
  • Using dehumidifiers: Dehumidifiers can help improve the indoor climate, especially in rooms with high humidity.


Humidity, mold, stagnant air and poor cleaning habits. As you can see, musty smells in the home can have various causes. To prevent or eliminate these, regular ventilation, thorough cleaning and controlling the humidity are crucial. However, with preventive measures and the correct handling of sources of moisture, the living environment can be significantly improved and a pleasant indoor climate can be created.

FAQ: Questions & Answers

How does mold smell in the home?

Mold infestation is accompanied by a typical odor. This is reminiscent of a rotten and musty smell, as one would expect from damp basements.

How do you remove musty smells from your home?

There are various ways to remove musty smells from your home. Regular ventilation and continuous cleaning are the most common measures to get rid of the stench from indoor spaces.

Which household remedies neutralize unpleasant smells in the home?

A mixture of vinegar and water binds unpleasant odors in the interior. A mixture of two parts water and one part vinegar, placed in a bowl in the middle of the room, neutralizes odors quickly and effectively.


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