Removing Musty and Mouldy Odours from the Basement

While you might think that your air freshener is enough to mask and eliminate the musty and mildewy smells that are coming from your basement, the truth is it is much more complicated than that.

When something smells “off” in the basement, it needs to be properly cleaned and assessed for complications.

If you can find the source of the smell, such as a old carpet, then removing and disposing of the source may be all you need to do. One you have removed the source of the smell, you will need to properly clean the area it was in to control and prevent odours from returning.

If all of the fixes were this simple, this article wouldn’t exist! Here are some common causes of basement odours and how you can eradicate them at home.

Insufficient or Inadequate Cleaning

Let’s admit it; we don’t put the love and care we put in our basement that we do with the rest of the house. Basements are typically for storage space, and they are not used everyday. As such, our cleaning habits in this area of the house tends to be lacking. Dirt, grime, cobwebs, and decay can develop with inadequate cleaning habits in the basement and this could fester into unwanted smells and odours. Unwanted guests could make a home in these dirt-infested areas.

Mold and mildew can build in your basement and its’ contents will absorb and spread that odour. You can stop and prevent this from happening by giving your basement a good overall cleaning. Make sure to cover every area in your basement. This means starting at the ceiling and working down, all the way to the floors. Using cleaning products such as bleach and vinegar will help control the odour. Assess things in storage, as well, as items such as old clothes and carpets could be mildew-ridden. Once your basement has been cleaned, you can move on to the next steps if there is still an odour.


Many basements have issues with moisture and moisture accumulation, which is the cause of mold and mildew. Excessive moisture can also result in bacteria and fungus, which is dangerous to your health. Make use of a dehumidifier in your basement, and leave windows open to help air out the area. Leaks, no matter how minor, could make your problem exponentially worse, so make sure to have them repaired by a trained professional when they first appear. Keep an eye out for water stains, as they may be an indicator that there is a water leak somewhere in the basement.

Inadequate Air Circulation

Poor air circulation in your basement is the cause of air becoming stagnant, which makes existing odours worse and more obvious. If there is existing mold or mildew in your basement, the poor air circulation will make matters worse. Good air circulation also helps water evaporate, which in turn, helps to reduce moisture accumulation. Improve your air circulation by periodically having a fan turned on, or by leaving the window open for a few hours everyday.

See how Steamatic Canada is changing lives

We are very happy with the repairs and with Avalon Steamatic. Your team is fantastic! From the initial survey and analysis of the damage by Dave, to Kevin’s team with their excellent carpentry and cabinet making skills, to the excellent work by the cleaning staff, and to your readily accessible self, keeping us in the loop on everything – we were in good hands, and we thank you. I’m pretty sure this was our second time around (second water damage) claim that your company looked after, and it was reassuring to have such a professional company restore our property. We would certainly recommend Avalon Steamatic for anyone going through a similar experience.

Mr Thorne - Steamatic Avalon