How to Get Rid of Old House Smell

Walking into a high-end hotel’s foyer is always pleasant on the nostrils as you’re welcomed by a fresh and delightful scent. Old houses, on the other hand, usually have that musty, stale odor that’s tricky to get rid of.

And since the key to getting rid of old house smell is getting to the root of the problem, in this article, we’ll go over a few things that you can do to achieve that and keep away the smell for good.

When It Comes to Fighting Old House Smell, Who Is Your Worst Enemy?

The main culprits are VOCs or mVOCs – (microbial) volatile organic compounds produced by microorganisms. These gasses that give an old house its characteristic smell are the product of mold, bacteria, biofilm, and other biological growths.

We link the scent of mVOCs with older properties because decaying biological growths are more common in older structures. These buildings are quite often darker and have far less ventilation than newer constructions. Since mold and other microbiological growths love everything dark and humid, it’s the perfect breeding ground for them.

Old House Smell and Its Effects on Health

While the smell of mold isn’t pleasant, it’s critical that humans have the ability to detect things that might harm our health. According to studies, “Persons who couldn’t smell at all were at least three times more likely to have experienced a dangerous occurrence than people with complete sensory capabilities,”.

Moreover, asthma and allergies can be worsened by mVOCs. Two examples of an extreme response are disorientation and neurological consequences. Consider using air purifiers if you suffer from asthma.

Additionally, some molds create toxins such as mycotoxins, which, depending on the degree and time of exposure, can induce vomit, diarrhea, severe liver damage, and even be fatal.

How to Get Rid of That Old House Odor

Now that you know the source of the old house smell and the reasons behind it, it’s time for us to help you learn what you can do about it.

Get a Professional Mold Examination

It’s advisable to leave mold cleanup to the specialists unless the amount of mold is negligible.

You can remove mold by scrubbing it with bleach, but the spores remain. Mold and spores can only be fully removed by a professional service using commercial solutions.

So we advise you to get a professional mold check, as it’s often a helpful first step in removing the odor of an old house. An expert can evaluate your property for mold so you can pinpoint the source of the stench.

Once the professionals you hire perform the check, they will next work on containing the problem before they proceed with mold cleanup since it prevents mold spores from migrating to other parts of the house. After containing the area, the expert will remove all water-logged and mold-infested materials, such as carpet and drywall, and clean the area using antifungal and antibacterial treatments. Finally, they sterilize the remediated area after vacuuming it using HEPA filtration.

Keep mVOCs Away With These Do-It-Yourself Solutions,

There are additional things you can do to get rid of the old house smell and prevent it from returning. To keep your home fresh and odor-free, follow these easy DIY tips:

1. Lower the Humidity

  • Reduce humidity by using a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from the air.
  • Increase ventilation by occasionally opening windows and installing effective exhaust and ceiling fans.
  • Make it a habit to open the bathroom window and air out the space after you’ve finished showering.
  • Turn on the air conditioner during the hot summer months, and make sure the filters are clean.
  • To avoid condensation, wrap pipes and raise the air temperature.
  • Add houseplants to absorb some of the moisture in the air.

2Look for Any Possible Leaks

In the event of a funny house odor (or even as just a precaution, really) you need to test for leakage and cracks in the kitchen and bathroom pipes and make any required repairs. The lavatories, household appliances, washers, water heaters, sinks, and tubs – inspect them thoroughly. To easily discover hidden leaking pipes and excess moisture, look for dripping noises, discoloration, peeling paint, or wallpaper. You can use instruments such as a water leak detector. They are designed to sit on the quarter-turn valve on your water line and utilize a motor to open and stop the valve automatically if a leak is detected to quickly locate concealed leaky pipes and excess moisture.

3. Clean the Drains

  • Pour a cup of baking soda followed by a cup of vinegar down the drain to clean it.
  • Rinse the drain with hot water after half an hour.

If the odor persists, it might be due to a sewage problem, in which case you’ll need to contact a specialist.

4. Clean Padded Furniture Regularly

Clean the exterior of the soft furnishings you have routinely to get rid of the stink.

  • Apply baking soda to rest a little before vacuuming it clean.
  • To completely eradicate mold development, you’ll need to apply antibacterial solutions.
  • If the furniture still smells like an old house, call an expert to clean it thoroughly.
  • If specialized cleaning doesn’t remove the stink, you’ll have to dispose of the items.

5. Scrub Abrasive Surfaces

Because mold spores are not visible to the naked eye, you need to take precautions in the areas or surfaces in your house where air does not circulate to prevent buildup. Wood is the perfect host for mold because it absorbs and holds water. Clean it regularly.

6. Clean Your Ducts and Vents and Change Your Air Filters

Depending on the quality of your filters and the number of people and pets in your home, you may need to replace the filters more often. Dust around the air vents is also a sign that they need to be changed. Aside from air filters, mold may grow in your air ducts, which can easily spread miasma throughout your home. Hiring a professional seasonally to clean your HVAC system is a good idea if this is the case.

7. Invest in Carbon-Filter Air Purifiers

Air purifiers with carbon filters give you continuous protection against mVOCs. Activated charcoal and carbon filters attract and trap odor-causing substances in the air.

Other Factors That Contribute to Old House Odor

Although mVOCs are the most common cause of an unpleasant odor in an old property, other scents may also play a role:

Cigarette Smoke

Smoking, whether active or passive, has been linked to a variety of health issues. Long after the cigarette has been put out, residual tobacco smoke pollution still lingers in rooms. Toxic particles like nicotine may adhere to walls and ceilings, whereas gasses can be absorbed by soft textiles like couch and carpet.

Here’s how to get rid of the cigarette odor in your home:

  • Wash items in cold water with two glasses of vinegar included.
  • Take anything that can’t be washed at home to the dry cleaners.
  • For rugs, carpets, and furniture, apply baking soda and then vacuum.
  • Repaint the walls and ceilings.
  • Try using air purifiers to clear out the cigarette smoke, they work a miracle.

Pet Odors

Even though you adore your pets, they might be adding to the bad odor in your house. These tips will help you keep your pets and get rid of the odor:

  • To get rid of pet hair and dander, vacuum your carpets and furnishings regularly and brush your pets.
  • Deep-clean pet stains using a baking soda solution and a hardwood-safe enzymatic cleaner. A dark light will help you find the stains if you can’t find them readily.
  • Shampoo your carpet or hire a professional carpet cleaning service to handle the job for you.
  • Warm water should be used to clean pet beds and blankets.

Your Bedding

Your bedding, for example, might get saturated with your own body fluids and filth if you don’t wash them on a regular basis.

Here’s a simple tip you can follow for ultimate clean sheets: “If you shower in the morning, wash your sheets weekly; if you shower at night, wash them every two weeks.”

Your Front-Load Washing Machine

Always leave the washing machine door and detergent drawer open for a few hours after your last load. It keeps the machine from becoming moldy. If you discover mold, clean the affected areas with a solution of white vinegar and baking soda.

The Dishwasher

Run an empty dry-heat cycle on a regular basis to clean the interior of your dishwasher and keep it safe from mold and unpleasant odors.

Garbage Disposal

The best method to avoid this frequent source of kitchen odor is to make sure the interior of the trash disposal is kept clean since filth can occasionally get caught behind the drain.

How to Make Your House Smell Nice – Quick and Easy DIY Tips

The first thing you can do to achieve a pleasant smell in your home is clean it regularly and thoroughly. Here are some quick and easy solutions to help you out with that:

  • Spray down dirty surfaces using an all-purpose spray. This will give your furniture a refreshing smell, which will improve the overall smell of your house.
  • Add essential oils to a diffuser on a daily basis. The scent from the oils will make its way into different areas of your home, making it smell like your favorite essential oil!
  • Throw in a load of laundry. All the products you use in your laundry spread a scent into your home and your clothes.
  • Pour some really good-smelling cleaner into the scrub holder to keep it clean so that your bathroom smells fresher.
  • For the front door entryway, you can use some dry shampoo or baby powder to spray the inside of the shoes and neutralize and freshen up their smell.
  • Add fresh flowers to one or more rooms in your home. The flowers will purify the air and give it a nice floral scent.
  • To make your kitchen smell amazing, focus on the sink. Use baking soda and essential oils, mix that up, pour it in your sink, and let it sit for a while. To clean the scrubbed mixture, just pour hot water over it and you’re done.
  • Take out the trash from the garbage can as often as possible, but also try implementing breeze-scented garbage bags to neutralize and even improve the smell of the garbage can.
  • Baking soda is a great home staple that helps in removing odors, which makes it the perfect solution for cleaning carpets and rugs. Just pour over some baking soda, wait for 10 minutes, and vacuum it.
  • To relax and give your bathroom a wonderful smell at the same time, use some essential oils in your bathtub. It’s a two-in-one kind of thing – you get to have a beautiful bath and the end result is a beautiful smelling house.


To sum up, the first and most important step towards having a nice-smelling home is finding the cause of the bad smell. Use this checklist to figure out what’s causing that old house smell in your home:

  • Get a professional mold examination
  • Lower the humidity
  • Look for any possible leaks
  • Clean the drains
  • Clean the padded furniture
  • Scrub every abrasive surface
  • Clean the vents and change your air filters
  • Invest in carbon-filter air purifiers
  • Get rid of cigarette smoke
  • Regularly wash your Bedding
  • Clean the garbage disposal
  • Maintain your washing machine and the dishwasher

As you can see, there are many ways to make your house smell good, but first, you must address the bigger issues so you can get rid of the old house smell.

And as a short-term problem fixer, if all else fails, light your favorite scented candle. In no time, your home will smell fantastic!