Typical Sources of Musty Smell in Your Home
It can be incredibly frustrating if you smell something that is “off” in your house and you can’t identify the source. When you smell something musty, the first places you might look are those that are visible—your clothing, furniture, or the floors. You might then check places where moisture is also likely, in the basement or the air conditioner. This post will provide you with all the tips and tricks that you need remove musty smell from your home and get it odor free.
In general, lingering musty odors usually lurk in hard to see places, while scents that come on all of a sudden may be due to negligence such as leftover wet clothing in the washer or a wet carpet from a few days. Some common locations where you can find mildew issues include windows, behind outlet covers, coils, ductwork, HVAC vents, and most often in your carpeting. Mold or mildew can also hide in the sub-flooring of the home, behind cabinetry, in insulation, or around electrical wires.
A reliable way to find out where the odor is coming from is the “smell test.” Go into the room where the smell is strongest and close all doors and windows. Shut off fans and close vents. By sniffing the air, your nose should guide you to where the smell is strongest. From there you can conduct your search in that confined area until you find the source.
What is Mildew?
Mildew is a type of fungi that requires moisture and organic material to grow and thrive. Natural materials include things like wood, cotton, or solid surfaces in our homes. Mildew can even grow on a sheet of paper, or on food. Mildew typically appears as patches on the surface of these materials. It can show up in a myriad of colors, but most commonly seen in yellow or brown.
The “perfect storm” for mildew to grow most rampantly is in a damp, dark location with high humidity. It survives and reproduces in a range of temperatures, but is at its worst from 77 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit. Commonly found as a slimy film on shower tile or shower curtains, it’s very commonly a bathroom problem but can form other places in the home as well. Any place that moisture is left to sit for too long without proper ventilation is subject to mildew growth. Mildew also is common on plants, and if left to flourish on the leaves of certain crops, they may perish. There are ways to clean mildew (see below), but to prevent its further growth you need to take away either the moisture from the air (via dehumidifier or ventilation) or the food source.
How to Tell the Difference Between Mildew and Mold
People often use the words “mold” and “mildew” interchangeably. Both are varieties of fungi and have more similarities than differences. Mildew is usually flat and powdery in appearance, with a white or yellowish color, while a mold is typically fuzzy and ranging in colors from blue to green to white, black, or gray. Mold has some potential uses (it is used to make the antibiotic penicillin, as well as some foods), but mildew has none. Both can cause structural damage to homes and mild to severe health or allergy consequences for those exposed to it.
Both of these fungi are concerning to homeowners when discovered. Mildew is usually less severe of a problem than mold—it grows only on surfaces, not deeper, and can be wiped away with cleaning products. Mold, on the other hand, can grow deeper into materials. It usually is not even visible until a further, behind-the-scenes infestation, has had time to escalate. Removal of mold, therefore, is not as easy to do and may require different equipment and specialized contractors. Depending on the damage done and the area affected, excessive mold can sometimes even necessitate extensive remodeling to get rid of it.
Mildew Exposure and its Health Risks
While less life threatening than prolonged exposure to certain types of mold, mildew exposure can take a toll on your health. When present in your home, you can become exposed either by physically touching it or inhaling its airborne spores. Physical contact with mildew can cause minor topical skin rashes, (more severe if you have a mildew or mold allergy). Athletes foot or fungal skin infections can also present, whether the spores you can into contact with were living or not.
It’s the inhalation of mildew that often results in more of a health risk. Allergy or asthma sufferers were particularly susceptible to mildew related symptoms. They may develop a worsening, persistent cough. Classic allergy symptoms like watery eyes and scratchy throat will sometimes appear. Although not extensively researched, it is believed by many medical professionals that mold and mildew can produce mycotoxins, which can lead to cancer in some individuals if enough of those toxins are present and built up over a period. These toxins also can potentially suppress your immune system, making it hard to fight off illness or infection even after the mildew is no longer present.
How to Remove Musty Odor in Your Home
Musty odors can make a home smell old and uninviting. They can stem from a few other sources, but the most likely offenders are mold and mildew. As discussed earlier, they can hide in any number of places in your home from your basement to your bedroom there is no safe place in your home from this offensive intruder. If you are struggling with a mold or mildew problem, you may find that the problem is not all confined to one single source, and multiple places in your home may be contributing to the smell.The first thing you need to do is find every single place the smell is coming. This task can be done using the process of elimination. To begin, do the “smell test” and described earlier. Start with the place the smell is strongest, and clean that area first. After a few days, repeat the smell test to decipher if a musty odor is coming from anywhere else in your home.
To get rid of the odors you do come across, you will first need to clean the surface of those areas. A commonly used household item for mildew cleaning is bleach, but we recommend that you visit your local hardware store, to find the best and safest product based on your needs.Remember, mildew is a surface growing fungi, not deeper growing like mold. If found on the ceiling or the walls, you will need to wipe those down until you no longer see any remnants of the mildew. The same goes for furniture with a smooth surface.That said, to clean the surface of a rougher texture or from carpet or furniture can be challenging. Mildew can get in between fibers and make it extremely to wipe up simply. Some odor neutralizing products may be too strong to apply to those types of materials directly. OdorKlenz Source Odor Treatment, however, can be implemented directly to water-safe (water able to be extracted) sources. Unlike other cleaners that just mask the source of musty odor with a host of equally undesirable chemical fragrances,
How to Get Mildew Smells Out of Clothes
Mildew can form on the surface of certain clothing. Many fabrics contain organic materials, one of the primary necessary food sources of fungus. If clothing with these materials gets wet and is left somewhere for too long, there is a good chance you will find it covered in powdery mildew the next time it appears. This accident can happen when wet clothes are forgotten about in a washing machine, or wet towels are left in dirty clothes hamper for too long before being washed and dried.
If mildew is left to sit too long on clothing, it can form a stain. To get the stain out, you can wash the clothes by themselves with warm water, use a toothbrush to scrub the stain, and air dry. To remove the smell, you will need a laundry detergent or additive that specially targets offensive substances like mildew, and deactivates them. The OdorKlenz Laundry Liquid is a great product that doesn’t mask, but gets rid of mildew smells from clothes. It comes in both liquid and powder form, and will not only remove mildew odors from clothing, but also from your washing machine when used.
The OdoKlenz technology combats musty odors on a chemical and works to attack the chemical composition of the odors without the use of masking agents or toxic chemicals. In some situations, your home’s belongings will now be contaminated and affected with musty odors. Traditional detergent are not designed to combat such complex odors and at best will only temporarily help by masking the clothing with perfumes and fragrances, which will eventually wear off. The OdorKlenz laundry was designed to neutralize and remove stubborn odors that normal detergents leave behind by utilizing its patented earth mineral technology to destructively adsorb and neutralize the odors.The OdorKlenz laundry additive is safe to use on wall washable textiles and in HE machines.
Clean the Air in Your Home to Combat Mildew Odors
It is, of course, necessary to clean the source of musty smells and to take the necessary steps to stop it from growing back in those same places. but as important is to treat the contaminated air inside of your home.Just because you’ve cleaned up your home base doesn’t mean that you are now completely safe from their adverse effects associated with poor indoor air quality and mold generated VOCs. If mildew spores continue to be present in the environment of your home, they can travel and seep into places like your HVAC ductwork where they can actually contribute a musty odor to your entire home.It is equally important, therefore, to cleanse the air of your home during and after removing the source of musty odors. By doing so, you are preventing the smell from being “recycled” again and again, or from returning in case spores settle somewhere else that there are optimum fungi growing conditions. Many air filters that claim to remove allergens and mold or mildew spores from the indoor air just trap them in the filter, and when the system continues to run, those spores are at risk to go right back where they were in the first place—in the air of your home. Even famous carbon based filters don’t do anything to destroy mildew at its source, but rather temporarily absorbs its molecules—this leaves them free to be released back in the air also.
The air quality in your home should be top of the list when working on mitigating mold and mildew odors. Mold contractors often prescribe treating the air from day one of the processes and often will recommend using an air purifier after the job is done to ensure that the contaminants in the air are being treated when their work in the home is completed. The problem is that most homeowners do not know what air system to purchase. An air filtration device can be a lifesaver in removing particulates and stubborn musty odors from a home. Traditional carbon based air purifiers will work to absorb some of the musty smells in the home but often the filter will quickly get filled to capacity and re-release the chemical odors back into the environment. In addition, the continuous cost of replacing carbon filters can be quite cumbersome to the homeowner along with the amount of time that it will take to truly mitigate the odors from the home.
The best solutions to use for ultimate removal of mildew and musty odors are the OdorKlenz Air for HVAC and the OdorKlenz Mobile. The OdorKlenz Air for HVAC air filter is installed in your current HVAC or furnace system and works to trap particulates and more importantly neutralizes odors with its patented earth mineral technology. Available in a variety of sizes and lengths to fit your current system.
If you are looking for a complete odor removal system that can cover a broad area, the OdorKlenz Mobile is the answer. While other air purifying systems only address particulates in the air, the OdorKlenz mobile air system was designed to provide the end user with two-stage filtration. First with the use of a medical grade HEPA filter which captures particulates of up to .3 microns. Next through the use of the OdorKlenz specialty cartridge the contaminated air is passed through the earth mineral where VOC’s and odors are neutralized at the source and clean air is exchanged through the inlets back into your environment. The OdorKlenz mobile air system safely and effectively can cover up to 800 square feet and is equipped with a 4-speed motor which runs from whisper mode to high.