How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell

The unmistakable smell of mildew can seem to come out of nowhere, permeating virtually every surface. Although it may seem impossible to get rid of, the cause and the smell of mildew are both easily removed from your home.

Why Does a Home Smell Musty?

Removing mold stains from the mattress. Hand holds a sponge.

There are many causes of musty or mildew smell. Sudden increases in temperature, condensation, cooler temperatures, darkness, and excess moisture can all provide this precursor to mold to thrive.

In places where moisture is trapped during cooler temperatures, sudden warmth can cause it to be released into the air, leading to mildew growth. Places where moist air is generated without proper ventilation, such as the bathroom, provide the ideal humidity level for mildew growth.

When temperatures drop, moisture takes far longer to evaporate. The longer evaporation takes, the more fuel mildew receives. Areas that don’t receive enough or any sunlight are ideal places for mildew to grow and spread, and when excess moisture is also present, exponential growth—and the strong smell of mildew—will be the result.

Mold vs. Mildew

Moist mold and fungus in window and frame

Mold and mildew are types of fungi. Mildew lives on surfaces and is flat, light, and powdery in appearance. If mildew goes unremoved, it’ll continue to grow and eventually become mold, which has a dark, lumpy, and slimy appearance.

Mold is far more invasive than mildew, able to penetrate hard surfaces like walls and wood, causing structural damage, not to mention making removal nearly impossible.

How Mildew and Mold Affect Your Health

Shocked woman looking at mold on wall

Both mildew and mold propagate by releasing spores into the air, which happens when they’re disturbed in some way. Even just walking by an area where these fungi are growing is enough to disturb and release spores, which can settle onto every surface in your home.

When released, mold spores are easily inhaled. This can cause many symptoms, from coughing and sneezing to dizziness and headaches. Mold illness is a very real and very serious condition that can cause numerous health problems, including fatigue, nausea, brain fog, and joint and muscle pain, to name a few.

How to Remove Mildew Smell

Removing mold and mildew from tile

In addition to the bathroom, check places like the attic and basement, as well as any hidden areas where mildew may be thriving, such as in the back of a closet. You’ll also want to check for and address any cracks, holes, or misplaced shingles that may be allowing water to enter your home.

Once you’ve addressed these issues, it’s time to get rid of mildew. This can be accomplished with:

  • Bleach
  • White vinegar
  • Moisture removal
  • Increasing light and air
  • Chlorine dioxide

Bleach

A bleach solution of one gallon warm water to one cup of bleach can kill mildew on contact when applied to grout, tile, and shower curtains. Wearing rubber gloves, mix and apply the solution in a well-ventilated area. Use a toothbrush dipped in the solution to scrub the affected area, and then wipe clean with a wet sponge. Repeat as necessary.

White Vinegar

The pH level of vinegar makes it an effective mildew killer; you may have discovered this when removing mildew odor from your washing machine. Cleaning vinegar is a more concentrated form, which can kill mildew even more quickly.

Either of these can be applied by pouring over the mildew (using a spray bottle can disturb and release spores), and leaving it on the affected surface for several hours before cleaning with soap, warm water, and a clean cloth.

Moisture Removal

When you remove moisture from an area, you are essentially “starving” mildew and preventing future mildew growth. Avoid running hot water for too long and instead, run a humidifier in musty-smelling areas, and limit the running time of air conditioning or HVAC systems. Ensuring bathroom surfaces are completely dry after use can also effectively eliminate a mildew problem.

Increasing Light and Air

Exposing musty-smelling areas to sunlight and fresh air can kill existing mildew and prevent new growth. However, you’ll want to ensure that you’ve cleaned any visible mildew first to limit the spread of spores.

Chlorine Dioxide (ClO2)

Chlorine dioxide is a gas that, when released into the air, reacts with oxygen. Completely safe in small doses, chlorine dioxide degrades quickly once released, leaving only harmless saline solution behind and destroying the existence and smell of mildew permanently. The only issue used to be that ClO2 could only be used in large-scale applications because there was no means of controlling how much of the gas could be generated at one time. Not anymore.

Your Complete Mildew Solution

home deodorizer bundle 4 pack

You may have tried all of the aforementioned mildew eliminators, only to be greeted with that musty smell time and again. The good news is that research and innovation have made it possible to put all of the mildew-removing power of chlorine dioxide into your hands—literally.

Room Shocker Home Cleanup products from Biocide Systems allow you to remove mildew from any room in your home, anytime you need to. Our quick, effective, and safe Room Shocker starts working the second you remove the lid.

Acting like a fumigation bomb, Room Shocker seeks out and destroys mildew spores and their accompanying musty odors from even the most remote corners of your home, leaving every room smelling fresh and odorless.

Now you can treat multiple rooms in your home for mildew with the Home Cleanup Bundle 4-Pack. Each of these powerful ClO2 mildew-removing bombs covers 400 sq. feet, giving you a total of 1600 sq. feet of completely harmless mildew-destroying power.

Our products penetrate every surface, leaving you with a fresh-smelling, mildew-free home. Learn more about our products online.

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