How To Get Rid Of Musty Smells In Your Home
Okay, so youâve now diagnosed the underlying problem and have got everything in tip-top shape and mold- and mildew-free . Now, itâs time to deal with the lingering smell.
As a general rule of thumb, increasing ventilation, enhancing natural light , and decreasing humidity are your best friends in the fight against musty smells. Depending on how irritatingâand/or persistentâthe smell is, a full-on, deep cleaning of your home could also be on your horizon .
Below is an easy-to-follow guide that should set you on the right path. By completing these steps, you should be well on your way to an odor-free homeâand equipped with the know-how to keep it that way!
The Path Of Resistance
Initially, Mikes landlord tried to fix the problem himself, bleaching the moldy walls. We call that spray n’ pray, said Scott Armour of the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification, a global industry body for remediators. They, along with the EPA, advise against bleach for a variety of reasons, namely that fumes can be dangerous and its usually ineffective.
Bleach only works for non-porous surfaces. It cant touch the mold that has burrowed into surfaces like wood or drywall . But the most important reason bleach fails is that people dont stop the molds water supply.
First thing I do is check for leaks, in the bathroom or roof or a crack in the foundation, said Greg Bukowski, who runs the Chicago-based remediation company Moldman USA. Theres always a leak. If you dont fix that, dont bother with bleach or vinegar. Then kill and remove the mold with detergent and water, then prevent its return with mold-resistant paint like Kilz .
When bleach didnt work, Mike paid for an indoor airborne mold test, which raised more questions than it answered. We had no idea how to interpret the results. I just couldnt find any information out there that isnt written by remediation guys, he said. They told him he had the dreaded black mold, and needed professional remediation.
How About Chlorine Bleach
Household chlorine bleaches contain 5.25% active sodium hypochlorite , which forms hypochlorous acid when diluted in water. This acid is very effective against many types of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses. However, its use is not recommended in homes because of health and environmental risks.
Chlorine bleach is caustic to human tissues like skin and its lingering fumes are a lung and eye irritant. It can discolor or break down fabrics and is extremely corrosive even to metals. Not recommended for people with respiratory or heart problems. Short-term exposure to the gas may cause mild asthmatic symptoms or more serious respiratory problems. If mixed with ammonia-containing cleaners, it releases toxic chloramine gas . If mixed with acids, including vinegar, it generates highly toxic chlorine gas used during WW I. Many automatic dishwashing detergent contain chlorine, which reacts with organic matter and when you open the dishwasher door, steamy carcinogenic gas rushes out. Chlorine also reacts readily with organic substances in the environment and creates other hazardous compounds, such as furans and dioxins.
Other bleaches have similar shortcomings in bleaching the surface but watering the mold roots below.
Also Check: How Do You Clean Mold Off Of Leather
How To Test For Black Mold In House
While there are a number of different reasons why you might want to test for black mold in the home, most people have no idea how to test for black mold and therefore will avoid testing for it altogether. Luckily, the mold testing process is rather easy and there are several ways to do it.
The three most popular ways are by using your sight and smell to find mold in the home, utilizing an at-home mold testing kit, and hiring a mold expert to professionally test for mold in the home. Dont worry, well discuss each of those options in a little more detail down below:
Preventing Mold Growth In Paper
Moisture is the most significant factor in mold growth, no matter what type of surface it is. Paper documents easily absorb water, making them prone to damage.
Preventing this from happening is the best way to fight it.
To protect paper, like books, from mold, make sure to store them in places with good airflow and low humidity. Avoid storing them in closets, basements, or anywhere near a water source.
Regular cleaning and dusting of books and paper documents as well as their shelves will also do the trick. Keeping plants away out of your library or at least away from the shelves is also suggested.
Recommended Reading: Getting Mold Off Leather
Remove The Black Mold
After having the solution absorb the area, take a sponge or bristle brush to scrub the area affected. If you have difficulty removing the mold, you can apply the solution and clean again.
After scrubbing, apply the solution one more time, allowing the area to air dry. Doing this gives the cleaner time to remove any mold remaining while deodorizing the room.
Treat The Molded Plywood
Treat exposed molded subflooring with a mixture of 1 cup of borax and 1 gallon of water or an EPA-registered mold removal product. Spray the solution on the moldy plywood. You can also soak affected subflooring with a brush broom. Wait 10 minutes, scrub the area, and repeat the process two more times.
Power Tip: Repeated applications allow a treatment to penetrate and kill mold deep in the plywood.
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Treating Unfinished Leather With Mold
Unfinished leather has no protective layer against ultraviolet rays and bacteria. Once stained, it can be a laborious task to get it cleaned.
Prioritize getting the stains out by cleaning them with equal parts vinegar and water. Brush the unfinished leather with a boar-bristle brush.
Vacuum it in a low setting, and the remaining mold smells should be gone. Once finished, let it dry completely under the sun.
Unfinished leather is widely used on duffle bags and backpacks. Check this other article out on how to remove mold from backpacks!
Removing The Musty Smell From The Mold
Even after successfully clearing the mold from your paper documents, the musty smell can be left behind. It is not exactly a pleasant smell, so here are some ways to get rid of it.
Lay the documents flat on a surface and sprinkle talcum powder over them. Allow it to sit overnight, then wipe the powder away the next day.
Put the paper documents in a sealed bag together with one or two sheets of fabric softener. Change the sheets every 24 hours and do it for a day or two.
Place the papers in a brown paper bag inserting pieces of unused charcoal wrapped in a cloth inside. Leave it for at least a day until the odor is gone.
Sprinkle some baking soda inside a sealed container or bag and place the documents inside. Baking soda is known as an effective agent in absorbing unwanted smells.
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How To Get Rid Of Mold In Your Home
Although there is no determined amount of how much mold is harmful to your health, its important to act quickly. If necessary, hire professionals to clean it.
There are mold remediation contractors on these websites:
Use a dehumidifier to keep your air moisture levels below 50%. Ventilate your rooms, and make sure to turn on the bathroom fan when youre taking a shower.
Never use bleach to clean mold.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration declared bleach as ineffective to use, and it can even increase the toxicity of mycotoxins, worsening your mold exposure symptoms.
Suppose I suspect a Patient is suffering from Biotoxins illness or Mold Toxicity Exposure. In that case, several tests can help us understand why you feel the way you do and understand how severe of an exposure we are dealing with.
- Traditional Lab Testing: VEGF, Transforming Growth Factor Beta -1, VIP, HLA-DR, C4a, Alpha-MSH, cortisol, Leptin, ADH, DHEA-S, and Testosterone MMP9 blood level.
- VCS Test: The Visual Contrast Sensitivity Test shows if you could be suffering from mold exposure.
- Great Plains Lab Testing: The MycoTOX Profile is another invaluable tool to assess mold exposure.
- Genetic Test: The HLA-DRB1 gene provides instructions for making a critical protein role in the immune system.
Health Effects Of Molds
The documented health problems associated with mold exposure fall into four categories:
Mold spores are so small that they evade the protective mechanisms of the nose and upper respiratory tract. Allergic reactions are the most common effect – runny nose, itching eyes, rashes. The other common effects of exposure to molds include wheezing, flu like symptoms, chronic sinus infections, nosebleeds, fever, shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, inability to concentrate, fatigue, and respiratory infections.
Mold spores can trigger or aggravate asthma, particularly, in children. The incidence of allergies and asthma has doubled in the last decade, which has been linked to the increase in airborne molds in modern âenergy efficientâ homes. One of five Americans suffers from allergies. The other health effects include hypersensitivity pneumonitis, reaction to mitological volatile organic compounds, opportunistic infections, and micotoxic reactions. Some pathogenic molds even affect the central nervous system or suppress the immune system.
The effects of molds are cumulative – the first hundred exposures may have no effect but the next one can cause a reaction.
Read Also: Removing Mold On Bathroom Ceiling
S To Prevent Mold In Crawlspaces
Here are some handy tips for preventing mold problems in your crawlspace:
- Check the foundation walls and make sure there are no cracks where water can enter.
- Make sure gutters and downspouts channel at least 6 feet away from the house, especiallyduring the rainy season. Otherwise, water can accumulate near the house and eventually find its way inside your crawlspace.
- Check for adequate ventilation. At a minimum, there should be 1 square foot of ventilation for every 150 square feet of crawl space area. We are big fans of well-ventilated crawl spaces.
Note: Many building professionals advocate closing vents and controlling moisture through other means, arguing that open vents make it difficult to keep crawl spaces warm in winter, and can lead to increase in moisture build up in the summer when hot humid air is brought into the crawl space. These are good points, but it can be challenging to control moisture through other means without the use of vents. In addition, once mold starts to grow, it is going to spread much easier in closed spaces without vents relative to closed areas with vents. The outside fresh air coming from the vents can also help dry out a structure and reduce the concentrations of mold in the air once the outbreak occurs.
What Is Black Mold
Black mold, or Stachybotrys chartarum, is one of the most common indoor molds. It grows in damp, humid, and dark areas in homes. Like other molds, it releases spores into the air surrounding it, which can be inhaled by humans or absorbed through your skin, and can also allow it to be transported to other areas of a home.
Also Check: How To Clean Black Mold On Ceiling
Mold Is Only The Symptom
The only effective way to control biological air contaminants like molds, fungi, bacteria, and dust mites is by tackling the cause. Eliminate the sources of moisture and reduce humidity in your home! Repair any water leaks in the roof, walls or basement. Prevent condensation on walls and windows by maintaining a low relative humidity in your home, ideally 30â50 percent . Humidity levels are measured by hygrometers available in hardware stores.
Cooking and bathing may add 3 gallons of water each day to the indoor air – install exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms.
How To Reduce Mold And Moisture Under Your Home
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The crawlspace under your home can be a breeding ground for mold. Taking the following steps can keep it from happening:
- Make sure the crawlspace has plenty of ventilation.
- Fill in any low spots in the crawlspace with sand.
- Cover the ground under the entire crawlspace with a layer of 6 mil or thicker plastic.
- Put a layer of sand on top of the plastic to hold the plastic in place and absorb any excess moisture.
Read Also: How To Remove Mold From Rocks
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Tea Tree Oil Is Also Extremely Effective
Getting rid of black mold with tea tree oil is an extremely effective method. Tea tree is an essential oil that is safe for people and pets. It is more expensive than vinegar, but a few teaspoons go a long way. I’ve used it successfully on a small area of the rug and a moldy shower curtain.
It does have a distinct smell but don’t worry the smell will dissipate over time. Since it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, aside from killing all types of mold, tea tree oil can be useful for treating lice, dandruff, athlete’s foot, and many other conditions. It is a good idea to buy a small bottle and keep in your house. Remember, a little goes a long way.
TIP: Make sure you buy real tea tree oil, made from the Melaleuca alternifolia.
Black Mold Removal Using Vinegar
White vinegar is a mildly acidic product that cleans, deodorizes, and disinfects. It can also kill 82% of mold species, including black mold, on porous and non-porous surfaces. You can use it safely on most surfaces, and its offensive odor goes away quickly.
Pour undiluted white vinegar into a spray bottle. Because white vinegar contains only about 20% acetic acid, adding water makes it less effective. Spray the vinegar onto the moldy surface and leave for an hour. Finally, wipe the area clean with water and allow the surface to dry. Any smell from the vinegar should clear within a few hours.
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Find The Source Of The Musty Smell:
As we have seen, the most common reason for a musty smell in your home is the presence of mold or mildew. And because the microbial volatile organic compounds emitted from mold and mildew have a low odor threshold, a musty smell does not necessarily mean that there is a lot of it. Before you try to cover up the odor, take some time to look around for patches of mildew or mold. Some places you may want to check for mold around your home include:
Your bathrooms Moist and warm, bathrooms are like heaven to mold spores. You will want to check the most obvious places like the tiles in the shower but do not forget to check under the sink, around the toilet, and in the walls. Water leaks may not always be evident right away, but if you do a thorough inspection of your bathrooms, you should be able to tell if there is a moisture problem causing mold growth.
The kitchen There are a lot of places in the kitchen for mold to hide out, so you will want to check thoroughly. Look inside of, underneath, and around your refrigerator, underneath your sink, and inside your microwave and stove. Oh, and do not forget to check your trash can that is another dark place mold cannot resist.
In the bedrooms True, your bedroom may not seem like a great place for mold to grow but its very possible. To keep your room smelling fresh, you will want to check for mold on your mattress, your bedroom windows and windowsills, and in any potted plants you have.
Visible Dark Rings And Spots
One of the early signs that mold could be lurking in your home is the appearance of dark rings or spots on the ceilings or walls. Even if these spots arent mold per se, they may be indicative of water damage or pooling water, which is a recipe for mold growth.Dark rings on your ceiling? It might be an early sign of black mold.
If you see anything like this in your home, its best to mop it up as quickly as possible and clean the area using disinfectants. If you cant access the area, get an inspector to do it for you. Be sure to check other areas as well, since there could be more widespread water damage.
Signs Of Mold And Mildew In Paper
There are a few signs for you to watch out to know when mold and mildew start to grow in your paper documents. Here are some:
- Pages of books and a set of documents are sticking together along the edges.
- Mold and mildew can cause discoloration in paper documents. They create yellowing and brown or black speckling.
- Paper documents smell musty.
- Visible signs of mold and mildew, specifically in the books spine or cover, particularly on books with covers made of organic materials like leather