There are a number of ways to get rid of musty odor. Pick your technique depending on whether it is from the basement, clothing, or appliances.
A musty or moldy odor from clothes that have been packed away, from a car that hasn’t been used for a while, and from the basement are common occurrences. If the smell is invading your home or basement, be aware that in all likelihood it is caused by mold and mildew. These thrive in damp, warm, and poorly lit areas, especially where air is not circulated. They usually grow on draperies, rugs, shower curtains, cotton, linen, silk, leather and wool. In addition to causing a musty odor in the house, they can cause a discoloration in fabrics and occasionally eat into them. They can also trigger allergies. The best way to prevent mildew is by keeping the garments clean and rooms well-ventilated and dry.
Getting Rid of Musty Odors
From the House
Eliminating the unwanted smell is an important step to discourage further mold growth. One way to go about it is to make sure the area is dry and ventilated. To remove it from the basement, one should sprinkle chlorinated lime (commonly known as bleaching powder or chloride of lime) over the floor. When you find it disappearing, then sweep the powder from the floor. Moldy odor removal from cement and tiles can be done by scrubbing all the affected surfaces with a very dilute solution of sodium hypochlorite. Alternately, you could use any diluted chlorine bleach. Remember to dilute the chemical being used so that you don’t damage the surfaces. A good consistency is half to one cup of liquid household bleach to a gallon of water. Once you are done with the scrubbing, wash with water and wipe it. Ensure that the area is well ventilated till it dries thoroughly. Your other option for cleaning and sanitizing bathroom walls is aerosol spray.
To remove moldy odor from clothing, drapery, or linens, soak them in a solution of water and vinegar for 30 minutes. You need to use 1 cup of white vinegar for a normal load in your washing machine. Then, run a regular wash cycle using a scented, liquid fabric softener. If you don’t achieve results in the first time, do it once again.
From the Appliances
Musty odor removal from appliances (refrigerators, ovens, etc.,) that have not been used for a while can be done by making a paste out of baking soda and water and then spreading it inside these appliances. Then, take sheets of old newspaper, crumple them, and stuff the spaces inside the appliance with them. Leave it this way for 24 hours or more and then remove the newspapers. If possible rinse with coated surfaces with water. If you cannot do this, wipe them clean with a wet cloth and dry. If the odor is invading the refrigerator that you are using, just place an open box of baking soda in the back. Leave it there for a few days to let it work its magic.
Another suggestion to remove moldy odor from spaces is to place mesh bags of crushed volcanic rocks. Place them on the problem area according to the instructions they come with. For best results, position the bags at different levels in the room.
For rooms and cabinets, there are a number of products available that may work. You could try spray products, such as Oust, or place a container of DampRid in the closet. While these suggestions should solve your problem, if you do find significant mold growth anywhere in the house, you should have it taken care of by professionals as it can be toxic.