5 Effective Ways on How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Basement

5 Effective Ways on How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Basement

Your basement is one of the least attended parts of your home. But this doesn’t mean that you should let it off-hook, especially if there are unlikely symptoms arising. Examples of these are bad and awry smells. But how can you deal with them in the first place?

The basement is an important aspect of the entire house. Its overall condition may indicate and affect the real estate value of the property. Well-maintained basements maintain the attractiveness and market appeal of homes. The opposite can happen if you let your basement degrade.

But even if you are not planning to sell your home, you must make sure that your basement should be in its top shape. You can’t live comfortably in your abode if there are signs of deterioration in the basement. One of the things that you might need to take action with is the musty smell arising from the area, such as adding an air purifier

But how can you remove this musty smell entirely? What causes it in the first place? Read on to find out the answers.

Where Does the Musty Smell in Basements Come From?

An image of a concrete basement
An image of a concrete basement

Image Source: Unsplash

Interestingly, the musty smell in basements isn’t a new thing anymore. It has been a problem in many homes for centuries already. However, the cause for the musty smell doesn’t change at all.

Specifically, the smell in basements is from the presence of mildew and mold. These two are types of fungi; when they grow, they tend to release odor-causing gasses that quickly permeate around their area. Most of the time, the smell is embedded in the walls, furniture, and other items in the basement. If the smell gets into fabrics, removing them would be difficult.

Basements are often moist, dark, and warm. If there’s no ventilation, the air doesn’t circulate there properly. Hence, they are prone to mold and mildew growth.

Is It Normal to Have a Musty Smell in Basements?

No. It is not. Your home should have a neutral smell. This means that you shouldn’t smell any odor at all, especially the pungent ones! Because of this, you need to implement the necessary measures if you are smelling something off.

As we’ve mentioned, the musty smell in basements is caused by mildew and molds. These two things are not naturally occurring in residential and commercial spaces. They only appear once there’s too much moisture in a room. In this case, you can consider them invaders. Fortunately, you know that they are thereby simply sensing the scent that they are emitting.

Can a Musty Smell Be Dangerous?

The presence of mold and mildew also generates compounds that are extremely volatile. These compounds are also known as microbial volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These are the ones that generate unpleasant and strong odors commonly associated with molds.

Scientifically speaking, the effects of inhaling VOCs on one’s health aren’t proven yet. However, prolonged exposure to VOCs may result in symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, nausea, nasal irritation, and headaches. These symptoms are not life-threatening. But at the same time, they can cause respiratory complications in the future. Therefore, getting rid of mildew and molds is a must.

Other Areas in Your Home Prone to Musty Smell

A kitchen sink with food and dishes
A kitchen sink with food and dishes

Image Source: Unsplash

Aside from your basement, there are other parts in your home where you need to check for mold growth. Here are they:


It’s common for mold to grow in bathrooms. After all, they are often exposed to water. Over time, they will get damp, causing mold to grow and proliferate. If you don’t ventilate them, mold spores will eventually thrive.

Unfortunately, mold isn’t always seen. Hence, you should check the shower curtain, shower head, and faucets for signs of mold growth. You may also find molds in the tile grout.


Your kitchen is also prone to mold growth. In fact, there are ample spaces where molds can reside and grow. For instance, frequent usage of stoves can promote mold growth; even boiling and pouring hot water in the sink can also cause mold problems.

You should pay attention to your kitchen sink. A lot of dirty things happen there in the first place. From unwashed dishes down to food waste, they often go in the sink. These things can cause mold growth. Leaky pipes under your sink can also lead to the growth of molds.


Your bedroom isn’t safe from molds. At first, it seems that this part of your house isn’t prone to this problem. But since we are talking about humidity here, it is still worth checking your bedroom for potential mold growth.

The windows in your bedroom are prone to collect condensation from outside. You should close it all the time or do the due diligence of drying it constantly. Moreover, always check your HVAC systems to see if they are working properly. If they can’t regulate the temperature properly, they might promote excessive moisture.

Why Is Musty Smell Purification Important?

As mentioned earlier, the musty smell isn’t dangerous or life-threatening. But they can still cause unwanted side effects, such as fatigue, nausea, and coughing. In severe cases, they might trigger allergy flare-ups, which can be disorienting.

Again, we need to emphasize that your home should be free from abnormal scents. It is designed to have a neutral scent, as no parts of your home should generate an earthy odor. When you smell something off, then that’s a sign that there’s something wrong that you need to troubleshoot.

Indoor air purification is important because it makes your home conducive. The cleaner and fresher your indoor air is, the more comfort you can feel. It can improve your concentration and mood. At the same time, it prevents you from experiencing unwanted symptoms.

Adding Air Purifier to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Basement

An isolated image of an air purifier
An isolated image of an air purifier

Image Source: iStockphoto

Air purifiers don’t remove moisture in the air. That’s a fact. However, it is also a fact that air purifiers can remove molds and other types of allergens floating in the air.

With an air purifier, you can alleviate different problems caused by airborne pollutants. And we are not only talking about the musty smell in your basement here. We are also talking about other symptoms such as coughing, difficulty of breathing, and allergy flare-ups.

Why Is an Air Purifier Important to Improve Air Quality?

Indoor air pollution is a problem in many households these days. In fact, residences located in urban and suburban areas are likely to have polluted indoor air. After all, there are a lot of sources for these airborne contaminants in those conurbations.

Surely enough, there are numerous methods for improving the air quality in your home. But nothing is more effective than an air purifier. Keep in mind that these air purifiers are designed to do one job: that is to remove particles and pollutants in the air.

These air purifiers effectively absorb a plethora of pollutants; it is not just a musty smell. They can also tackle pet dander, spores, dust, debris, and pathogens. Hence, acquiring them is always a bright investment.

Air Purifier for Musty Smell

You see, these air purifiers include HEPA filters that can trap 99.97 percent of 0.3 microns of contaminants. These HEPA filters can also remove pathogens such as bacteria and viruses, which is a good thing if you are concerned about them.

But the best thing about these air purifiers is their use of activated carbon filters. These carbon filters are capable of neutralizing odor-causing contaminants, such as molds, mildews, and VOCs. An air purifier inside your basement would prevent it from becoming smelly.

Of course, you still need to address the source of the smell. But having an air purifier can make things better. Alongside proper troubleshooting, these devices can be considered a long-term solution for smelly basements.

Are Air Purifiers for Musty Smells Safe?

Yes. Air purifiers don’t produce any health effects. They are completely safe to use, even in areas with high human traffic. In fact, these air purifiers make your living spaces more breathable.

The one thing that you need to be wary about is these ozone air purifiers. Many third-party agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, have issued warnings against the use of ozone air purifiers for residential applications. Ozone is a gas that can cause harmful health effects, especially if there’s prolonged exposure. 

You should rely on conventional filter-based air purifiers because they are far safer and more effective to use.

Do Air Purifiers Remove Musty Smell?

Yes. As mentioned earlier, these air purifiers have the necessary mediums to remove different types of pollutants. Of course, that includes substances and elements that produce odorous effects on your living spaces.

Specifically, air purifiers have carbon filters that break these odor-causing substances. These are essential filters that keep unwanted scents and VOCs from entering your body.

Furthermore, this is one of the reasons why it is a good thing to run an air purifier inside your basement. With these devices around, there’s a guarantee that your basement won’t smell bad. Use dehumidifiers alongside them for better effects!

Removing Musty Air Through Air Purifiers: Step-By-Step

Here’s the concise procedure on how air purifiers remove the musty smell in your living spaces:

  1. The air purifier draws the air around it through the use of its fan. 
  2. The air passes through the filter. Depending on the air purifier you have, the air could pass through three filters: pre-filter, HEPA filter, and carbon filter. 
  3. The HEPA filter removes the microscopic pollutants embedded in the air. Meanwhile, the pre-filter captures large debris. The carbon filter is the one that breaks the VOCs that cause the musty smell in your basement. 
  4. After passing the filters, the air purifier releases the cleaned air back into the room. This repeated process is simple, but it is effective enough to troubleshoot indoor air problems.

How Long Does It Take for the Musty Smell to Settle?

With the use of air purifiers, it is just a matter of time before it can get rid of airborne molds in the air. If you are going to crank the air purifier on its highest setting, it should be able to drastically improve the air quality of your basement.

It is recommended that you run your air purifier continuously in areas susceptible to pollutants. In this case, your basement would benefit from the service of an odor-reducing air purifier.

However, you can maximize the odor removal if you also put a dehumidifier in the basement. This one removes the excess moisture in the air, ensuring that it is on the appropriate levels.

Things to Consider When Buying an Air Purifier for Musty Smells

There are a plethora of air purifiers on the market today. Hence, it is necessary that you know how to choose one depending on your needs. In this context, you would want an air purifier that can help address the bad smell in your basement or other living spaces.

Here are the factors that you need to consider:

  • Type of filters – It is essential that the air purifier must have the appropriate filters for odor removal. Specifically, you would want it to have at least a HEPA filter and carbon filter. These are the ones that remove the substances and elements that generate smell in the air. 
  • Airflow – The ability of an air purifier to capture pollutants in the air is dependent on its airflow. If the air purifier has a powerful fan and motor, it would be able to process air at a much more comprehensive rate. You would also want the air purifier to have a reliable means of distributing air.
  • Coverage – Pay attention to the coverage of the air purifier. Most of the time, air purifier manufacturers indicate the effective reach of their devices on the labels or packaging. Measure the room size of your basement and match it with the coverage of existing air purifiers today. Ideally, you want the air purifier to have a higher square footage coverage than the actual size of your basement.

Air Purifiers That Are Best for Removing Musty Smell in Basements

Numerous air purifiers exist in the market today. However, there are notable ones that excel in purifying the odorous smell in the air. Here are they:

Coverage Type Of Filters
HisoAir Model HA1968 1937 square feet HEPA filter, carbon filter, pre-filter, UVC
HisoAir Model HA139 516 square feet HEPA filter, carbon filter, pre-filter, UVC
HisoAir Model HA-1601 1011 square feet HEPA filter, activated carbon filter, pre-filter, UVC light

1. HisoAir Model HA1968

HisoAir Model HA1968
HisoAir Model HA1968

Image Source: HisoAir

One of the most powerful air purifiers that you can get today is the HisoAir Model HA1968. Manufactured by HisoAir, this particular air purifier is designed to accommodate extensive spaces, being noted by its capability to purify spaces up to 1,937 square feet. Specifically, you can say that this device works for whole-home air purification. It has a prolific airflow, which is indicated by its high clean air delivery rate of 1500 m3/h. 

Of course, this is a perfect addition to basements that require thorough air filtration. It has the necessary filters that can deal with the musty smell and the causes of it, such as molds and mildew. Its medical-grade HEPA filter can capture 99.97 percent of 0.1 microns of contaminants in the air. Moreover, its carbon filter is effective against VOCs, chemicals, and odorous substances.

  • Medical-grade performance
  • Ideal for large spaces
  • Works against viruses
  • No noticeable drawbacks

2. HisoAir Model HA139

HisoAir Model HA139
HisoAir Model HA139

Image Source: HisoAir

Another air purifier that you should consider putting inside your basement is the HisoAir Model HA139S. It is a modern air purifier, as indicated by its digital interface. It also features a remote operation, as it has its own TUYA app. You simply have to connect the device to the said mobile application, which you can download on your phone. There, you will also be able to monitor the air quality of your rooms.

The HisoAir Model HA139 excels in neutralizing odors and smoke, thanks to its high-efficiency activated carbon filter. It can absorb substances that cause smells, such as molds, VOCs, and cigarette residues. It is also a good option for allergy sufferers, as its H13 HEPA filter is capable of capturing 99.97 percent of airborne particles that are 0.3 microns in size.

  • Features a digital interface
  • Provides decent airflow 
  • Silent operation
  • No noticeable drawbacks

3. HisoAir Model HA-1601

HisoAir Model HA-1601
HisoAir Model HA-1601

Image Source: HisoAir

In the world of home cleaning and air purification, HisoAir is undeniably a renowned brand. In fact, HisoAir’s air purifiers are among the best in the world. So it is not surprising that many people trust their devices for their venerable performance and capabilities. One of their opuses is the HisoAir Model HA-1601. This device is perfect for spaces that require extensive air purification. If you have a mold-related problem, this air purifier can help you out.

Similar to other air purifiers here, this one features a three-stage filtration. It has a HEPA filter, carbon filter, and pre-filter that work together to manage different types of contaminants in the air. It also has remote compatibility since you can operate it via your smartphone. You simply have to download its app so that you can configure its settings hands-free. Interestingly, it has a PM 2.5 sensor that monitors and responds to the changes in air quality. The latter can automate the air purifier’s performance based on the current readings. 

  • AHAM-certified air purifier
  • Features wireless compatibility
  • Includes a sensor for automatic air quality monitoring
  • No noticeable drawbacks

How to Prevent Musty Smells After Removal?

Of course, the best way to get rid of the musty smell coming from the basement is to ensure that there are no sources of moisture. This means that you have to invest in maintenance and repairs, guaranteeing that no walls, windows, or pipes allow water penetration.

When there’s no moisture, you will have no problem with mold growth. And if there’s no mold growth, no other outlying symptoms would occur. Maintaining the structural integrity of your basement is one of the key solutions to preventing the musty aroma from coming back.

Of course, it is essential that you get beneficial appliances like a dehumidifier and air purifiers. They are the ones that ensure that your basement air is clean and breathable.

4 Other Ways to Remove Musty Smell in Basement

Learning how to get rid of the musty smell in basements is important. After all, you might be going to deal with the same problem in the future. In fact, there’s a chance that you are currently bearing this problem. If that’s the case, then the following solutions could help you out.

Look for the Source

Prevention is better than cure. This adage also applies to the problems occurring in your basement. You can’t treat any issue if you don’t know what causes it in the first place. When it comes to your basement, the musty smell is just a symptom of an underlying issue.

Most of the time, the odor is due to the prevalence of mildew or mold. These two are generated by moisture. Hence, you need to identify the source of moisture in your basements, such as the following: basement windows, kitchen and bathroom plumbing, and cracks in the walls or floor.

Start the Repairs

Temporary solutions can help in curbing the smell in your basement. But at the same time, they won’t stop the problem at all. You need to make drastic interventions to guarantee that the musty smell will be gone for good.

Regular repair and maintenance are necessary for this context. You need to replace broken doors and windows so that they won’t leak whenever it rains. At the same time, the leaky or cracked pipe should be changed so that they won’t spill water anymore.

You can contact professionals to do this job for you. But if you are skilled enough, you can do the repairs and replacements by yourself. For instance, you can wrap an insulator in a sweaty pipe. You should also waterproof any parts of your home that are susceptible to being wet, such as drywall and wooden components.

Regulate the Humidity

Another important thing that you need to do is to reduce the humidity levels in the basement. When there’s too much moisture, mold and mildew will grow naturally. Fortunately, you can address this problem through the use of a dehumidifier.

A dehumidifier is a device that removes the excess water in the air; it stores the water collected in its tank so that you can empty it whenever it is needed.

The ideal humidity level in the basement should be around 50 percent. In this setting, the air is comfortable but without feeling the dryness in the air. Installing ventilation in your basement can also reduce the moisture that promotes a musty smell.

Address the Smell

Once you can handle the moisture, you must treat the earthy aroma in your basement. This process can be simple, and you might have the things needed to do this.

To do this, place several bowls filled with baking soda in different parts of your basement. Baking soda is effective in absorbing smells and could drastically improve the “freshness” of your basement air.

Alternatively, you can also opt for white vinegar. It is also a good household product when it comes to odor absorption. If the odor is pretty strong, you should purchase products that are made to remove the musty smell. You can find them on the market right away.

Of course, don’t forget to clean your basement from time to time. You can use the combination of water and white vinegar as your primary cleaning agent. Spray it on the areas where mold growth was previously present.


As you can see, there are several ways to deal with the odorous smell coming from your basement. Of course, the most effective ones are approaches that involve moisture removal. But at the same time, the help of odor-reducing air purifiers is highly welcomed here.

One of the most trusted air purifier manufacturers today is HisoAir. This company has extensive experience in producing medical-grade air purifiers for residential and commercial applications. Its air purifiers met different quality standards for safety and effectiveness. Visit HisoAir and learn more about its products. 

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