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10 Cheap Ways to Get Rid of That Awful Mildew Smell

10 Cheap Ways to Get Rid of that Awful Mildew Smell
Written by Oana Schneider

Moldy odors are unpleasant, but they’re also unhealthy and will aggravate sinusitis and allergies unless you can eliminate both the mold and the odor. These 10 cost-effective methods will help you to get rid of the smell of mildew.

1. Find the cause of the odor

A moldy smell is just a symptom. The cause of mold is moisture. You may have a leaking water pipe under your house, and if so, having it mended will not only prevent mold from recurring but save you money on your utility bill.

To find out if you have an invisible water leak, check your meter. Now ask everyone at home not to use water for an hour or so.

Check your water meter again. If it shows that water has been used, you have a leak and should get a plumber to trace it and repair it.

If there’s no water leak, you may need to check your basement or reseal your foundations. Of course, if you’ve been through a flood, you already know the cause of your odor and can get right to work on eliminating the smell.

2. Dump moldy soft furnishings, paper and cardboard

Paper and cardboard will hold onto a mildew smell and re-infect the area with spores. Get rid of old cardboard boxes, magazines and if there are soft furnishings that reek of mildew, you may have to get rid of these too.

3. Clean up with bleach

10 Cheap Ways to Get Rid of That Awful Mildew Smell

Bleach kills germs and mold fungi. Make a solution of bleach and water and wash the entire area. Wash all fabrics thoroughly. Now air out the room or use a dehumidifier to help things to dry out.

A cup of bleach to a gallon of warm water does the trick. Before you use any of the cleaning solutions mentioned in this article, do test a small area first to ensure that you won’t cause any damage.

4. Try Lysol

This old-school disinfectant can be bought as a concentrate. Mix it according to the instructions and spray it onto all surfaces using a fine mist. A garden sprayer for insecticide or even a hand spray bottle will do the trick.

5. Suck the odor out of the air with odor absorbers

You can buy commercial odor absorbers, but you can get the same effect much more cheaply using a few charcoal briquettes. A box of baking soda or even cat litter will also help to absorb odors.

6. Use a dehumidifier

If you suspect that the mold is caused by moisture in the air, getting rid of the damp will kill the mildew. A dehumidifier may not be the very cheapest of your possible solutions, but if mold odors are caused by a need to keep windows closed and a humid atmosphere, this appliance is the solution.

Here you can find some affordable models.

7. Fresh air and sunshine work wonders

10 Cheap Ways to Get Rid of That Awful Mildew Smell

Mold hates fresh air and sunshine. So if the aspect of the affected room allows for sunshine during the day, leave the curtains open and throw open the windows.

8. Get the smell out of carpets

Before you throw out old carpets because of a moldy smell, try this mold-fighting tip. Vacuum first. Now spray on a solution consisting of 1 cup of vinegar to 2 cups of water. Don’t over-wet the carpet. Rub the mixture into the fibers with a cloth that has been lightly dampened in your vinegar solution.

Now you need to get your carpet dry and suck up the last of the smell.  Scatter baking soda over the carpet and leave it there overnight or for a few hours during the day. Now vacuum it up. A light spray with Lysol will also do the trick.

9. Brush it off and disinfect

10 Cheap Ways to Get Rid of That Awful Mildew Smell

If you have visible patches of mold, you ca use a dry brush to dislodge and brush off the visible growth before cleaning thoroughly with one of the mold killers we’ve just been looking at. Spray it on, and let it stand for 15 minutes or so before wiping it off.

10. Keep it smelling good

If your mildew problem is not caused by a water leak or a flood, poor ventilation and high humidity are to blame. Correct these problems and clean regularly to keep the moldy smell away. By making the environment unfriendly to mold, you’ll be able to keep things fresh.

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10 Cheap Ways to Get Rid of That Awful Mildew Smell

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About the author

Oana Schneider

Oana Schneider is a published author located in Chicago, Illinois and was part of our team as a communication specialist and blog editor. She writes about lifestyle, family budget and has a degree in Communications.


  • Wow, I hate the smell of mildew. It can really get into the furnishings and make your home smell unpleasant indeed! But once you’ve cleaned up, it’s definitely a good idea to keep things clean, as you don’t want it to get nasty again. Opening a window whilst you’re doing the cleaning is great as it means that you can let the fresh air in, and things will be a lot nicer when you’re done! This is great advice, thank you very much.

  • Great post we always use bleach when we run into mold and such and it works wonders. And yes make sure to get leaks fixed I know someone who didn’t and part of their roof collapsed causing thousands in damages not just to the structure but they also lost items too.

  • I always have this mildew smell around my sink and finally found the culprit! I pan to tackle it with your suggested methods and hope for the best. Thanks so much for posting!

  • It is always best to find the source first and fix the cause of the problem i.e. a water leak, instead of just covering up a smell. Great tips, thanks for sharing.

  • Nice information. Leakage of water is the real mess. One must have an eye and routine check for the piping in house.

  • I have a really special situation; I live in a part of the city where at least 50% of houses have this problem. It is very hard to get rid of this problem, but these steps can help reducing it. Bad walls, lots of moisture really make it worse in my case. Great advices, thanks!

  • I really enjoyed your post and thanks for the tips! Really nice blog and I have been looking for a way, other than essential oils, to deal with mold/ mildew. I have never used bleach to remove mold, I will surely try this. But I do not know whether it works for bathroom cleaning also.

  • Great advice! Mildew has a really nasty smell and shouldn’t just be let to sit in your bathroom. Killing it with bleach or a dehumidifier is a great solution.

  • Wow, these are some great pieces of advice!
    Thanks for sharing your valuable ideas. And we all know that it’s required to perform the inspection of your home in a gap of 1 month as this will help in recognising the issues in your home.
    If you want to restrict completely mold and mildew from your home you need to take a glance at the moisture level in your home.

  • I’ll definitely have to keep that meter technique in mind when checking for leaks. They can go on for so long right under your nose until the odor starts, and then all of a sudden you have a mildew problem! Awesome guide, thanks for sharing.

  • Mildew and mold can be so stubborn, so thank you for sharing these ways to try and get rid of it and the unpleasantness that comes along with them!

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