Finding mold in your home can be very stressful and removing it can be doubly so.
However, once it’s finally gone, it’s like a breath of fresh air — or, at least, it should be. If the smell of mold is still lingering in your home after you’ve removed all visible signs of mold growth, it can put quite the damper on things.
If you’re wondering how to remove the mold smell from your house, we regret to say that removing the smell of mold from your home can be just as lengthy of a project as removing the mold itself. However, with the right know-how, tools, and gusto, you can have your home smelling fresh and clean in no time.
What Does Mold Smell Like?
Before you sink more time into this project, it’s best to ensure that you’re actually dealing with a mold problem. Identifying the smell can help you make sure you’re on the right track.
One of the first signs of mold that people notice is the smell, which can be musty or stale. Imagine the scent of old socks that haven’t been dried properly.
You may also notice an earthy smell in a room, which can indicate that mold is growing on damp wood, like pillars, floors, or walls. It’s like the smell of a dense forest after a rainstorm or the dirt beneath decaying leaves. This damp smell in your home is a surefire sign that there’s a leak somewhere, which is a big red flag for mold growth as well.
If you have a more serious case of mold growth, it can even emit a rotting or pungent smell; if the odor in your home has reached this level, mold may be spreading throughout your house very quickly.
What Causes the Smell of Mold?
Mold is a kind of fungi that emits gaseous chemicals as it breeds and spreads.
The byproducts of the specimen’s fungal metabolism are called microbial volatile organic compounds, commonly referred to as mVOCs. These gaseous compounds are the root of the smell of mold.
Different mVOCs release different types of odors, so the smell may vary by the species of mold and the stage of the life cycle that the mold is currently in.
Is the Smell of Mold Harmful?
Aside from making you and your family uncomfortable, the mVOCS that cause the smell of mold have been inconclusively linked to headaches, dizziness, and nausea, among other things.
However, the negative health impact of mold spores is much more conclusive. Inhaling mold spores can cause respiratory or trigger existing problems, such as asthma. These can result in sinusitis, wheezing, and other breathing difficulties. T
he amount of spores in the air is not related to the strength of the smell, though, so this may be happening in your home even if you can’t smell the mold yet.
Can Air Fresheners Help?
Air fresheners only mask the smell; they don’t eliminate the root cause of the odors. While they can lessen the scent, they don’t provide a solution to mold growth in your home.
In fact, these products can even contain toxic chemicals that can cause or worsen respiratory damage. You’ll likely exacerbate allergic reactions to mold by covering up the scent with an air freshener.
How to Remove Mold Smell From Your House
Eliminating the smell that the mold has transferred to your home, especially if it has been around for a long time, is a challenge. Here are some tips and tricks for refreshing your kitchens, bathrooms, clothes, and carpets.
In Kitchens and Bathrooms
When removing mold from kitchens and bathrooms, you should expect to do some vigorous scrubbing. You can use a sponge or another scrubbing tool for larger areas. For thin spaces or delicate surfaces, a toothbrush is also a good tool — just be absolutely sure to throw it away immediately afterwards.
You can use bleach in these rooms, since they don’t usually have porous materials. Put a bleach solution in a spray bottle to reach small cracks and spaces where mold might be growing.
Once you’ve figured out how to remove mold smell from your house itself, removing it from all of your belongings, like your clothes, is pretty easy in comparison.
You can remove the smell of mold on your clothes through dry cleaning or washing. For blazers or coats, you may want your dry cleaner to handle the mold smell removal. However, you must make sure to tell them about the fungal growth so that they clean it separately and avoid contaminating other people’s clothes.
You can also use your washing machine if you have multiple pieces of infected clothing. Choose the hot water setting, and once the tub is filled, add any of the recommended cleaning solutions above, like borax, essential oils, or vinegar.
To remove the smell of mold from your rugs, it’s best to apply some elbow grease and hand wash them. Use a gentle brush and pure vinegar to scrub the affected area; make sure the vinegar reaches well into the rug. Sprinkle baking soda on top to remove the smell and absorb moisture.
Hang the rug outside to dry if possible, and make sure it gets sunlight. If air drying isn’t possible, you can place it in a room with good airflow and use a hairdryer to hasten the process. Once it is fully dried, you can vacuum the baking soda off.
Protect Yourself When Removing the Smell of Mold From Your Home
If you’ve done all of the above but the smell keeps returning, it is likely that you still have a mold infestation in your home.
The most comprehensive way to eliminate the smell of mold from your home is to get to the root of the issue and remove all traces of mold spores before they spread and cause further damage to your home.
Mold grows in moist places, so it is often found in bathrooms, kitchens, roofs, windows, or pipes, especially if there are leaks. Cardboard, tiles, drywalls, and wood products can be habitats for these fungi as well.
However, you need to know how to remove mold smell from your house safely. If you’re planning to remove mold from your home, you must protect yourself. Here are some precautions you can take:
Wear Protective Gear
Make sure to protect yourself by wearing a mask over your nose and mouth, protective glasses, and gloves.
Don’t touch mold with your bare hands, and be careful to not allow spores into your body through your nose, mouth, or eyes. You don’t want to end up with inflamed or infected eyes before you can finish removing mold from your home.
Clean One Room at a Time
Spores can easily float through the air and infiltrate other rooms in your home. Knowing this, you should isolate the colony and focus on cleaning one room at a time. Make sure to close the door and try to seal any gaps around the door to avoid infecting other areas.
Open the Windows
While your door should be shut, any windows in the vicinity should be wide open. This will let out the smell of mold and allow the spores to drift outside. This will also protect you from any fumes or odors from your cleaning supplies.
Cover Your HVAC System
Seal any air ducts that connect to your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system before tackling the problem. Once you disturb the colony, mold spores can escape through these room openings and make their way back inside after you’ve scrubbed down the place. Turn the system off and cover all parts that lead to it.
Dispose of Waste Properly
Lastly, dispose of the waste properly. Bag everything in plastic and bring it directly to your outdoor garbage can; don’t let it stay inside your house. For disposable masks and gloves, you should wrap them in plastic and throw them right away. If you’re wearing reusable ones, wash them separately with very hot water and air them out to dry, preferably outdoors if the weather allows.
Products that Can Help You Remove Mold Smells
Mold in residential homes can be removed easily using natural and safe solutions. Only use strong commercial products when absolutely necessary, especially if you or your loved ones have sensitive skin, noses, or allergies.
Nonetheless, these cleaning solutions have their advantages; just remember to use them properly.
You can soak carpets and clothes in scalding water (140+ degrees Fahrenheit) to remove the fungi. Afterward, add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to eliminate the bad odor.
Hydrogen Peroxide + Baking Soda
You can also make a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. These compounds are known for eliminating bacteria and odors. Just combine water, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda in a spray bottle and mist the affected area. Wait for 10 to 15 minutes, then remove the mold with a wet cloth. Follow it up with a dry towel to remove all of the moisture.
However, note that hydrogen peroxide can affect the color of fabrics. Be careful when applying it to curtains, carpets, and other textiles.
Vinegar + Baking Soda
The acetic acid in vinegar can remove fungi, and when paired with baking soda, it will also eliminate stubborn odors. Combine two teaspoons of baking soda with four tablespoons of vinegar in a spray bottle. Shake, and then fill with warm water. Just like the mixture above, you can soak the affected areas, let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, wipe the areas down with a wet cloth, and then eliminate traces of moisture with a dry cloth.
Borax is a potent mineral that’s known to extinguish mold and fungi and neutralize odors. It transforms water molecules into hydrogen peroxide, so it’s essentially a hydrogen peroxide spray. However, you can increase its potency by altering the ratio of borax to water.
Combine half a tablespoon of borax with four or five cups of warm water. Make sure to dissolve the powder fully. You can use this as a cleaning spray or pour the solution into your washing machine to clean mold-infected clothes and fabrics.
Antifungal Essential Oils
Pure tea tree essential oil has been found to be effective against mold. You can spray it over the affected area or diffuse it in the air to eliminate spores and odors. Clove, geranium, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and peppermint are other essential oils that can help here. However, make sure to use 100% natural oils so you can protect you and your family’s well-being.
Bleach is ideal for cleaning nonporous surfaces, like tiles, countertops, and bathtubs. Do not use it on porous materials, like wood or drywall. Just like hydrogen peroxide, it can also lighten darker fabrics and materials, so it’s best to use it on white surfaces only.
Commercial Mold Removal Products
Commercial mold killers can be very useful for deep-cleaning your home. They don’t require much preparation, since you can use them right out of the bottle; however, they can emit strong odors, so you should schedule when you will utilize them and keep the house or room unoccupied for at least 24 hours while the smells ventilate, preferably through a window.
Should You Hire Professionals?
While you can eliminate mold and mold smell using homemade cleaning solutions, it’s still best to enlist the help of professionals to remove the colony completely and make sure nothing will grow back. For instance, if you notice a musty, earthy, or pungent smell in a room, the presence of mold is all too likely. However, you might not know where to look. In this case, it’s best to hire professionals; they have the knowledge and experience to inspect potential habitats, find the colony, and eliminate it completely.
Additionally, infestations that have grown to 10 square feet or more should be left to the professionals. They also know how to handle the situation without causing harm to themselves or allowing it to spread throughout your home.
Lastly, if mold keeps coming back even if you’ve scrubbed down your bathroom, kitchen, or any other room, you should contact mold removal experts. You may not have eliminated all of the spores, or there could be another source that you haven’t considered.
Getting rid of mold and its smell is crucial for the wellbeing of you and your family.
If you notice musty or rotting smells, you should learn how to eliminate small infestations and the odors they entail through homemade solutions, as this can help things from worsening.
However, if things have gotten out of your control, contact the professionals to do a thorough inspection and removal of any mold on your property; they know how to remove mold smell from your house better than anyone else, and they’ll ensure that the problem is taken care of thoroughly and effectively.