Moisture and humidity can cause a musty odor to develop in homes or in clothing. A closed room can also become musty from lack of air circulation and dust buildup. Sometimes mildew growth increases the problem by creating an even stronger musty smell and staining fabrics. Mildew removal eradicates some of the odor, while proper cleaning and deodorizing eliminates the rest of the smell so your home smells fresh again.
Open the windows if it's dry outside. Turn on ventilation fans to help circulate the air in the home and dissipate the musty odor.
Dry all surfaces in the home. Place a dehumidifier in rooms prone to moisture, such as the bathroom. Dry air is less likely to develop musty odors.
Wash all surfaces in the home with an all-purpose cleaner or a cleaner formulated for the material, such as a wood cleaner for wood furniture. Wipe down soiled surfaces weekly to keep the home smelling fresh.
Sprinkle chlorinated lime or bleaching powder on cement floors in musty rooms, such as basements. Leave the lime in place for 24 hours or until the musty odor disappears, then sweep it up and dispose of it.
Fill small bowls with white vinegar. Place a bowl in each corner of the musty room. Replace the vinegar weekly until the odor is eliminated. The vinegar neutralizes the odor in the air.
Wash clothing following the instructions on the care label. Line or machine dry immediately so further musty odors don't occur.
Place the clothing item in a zip-top plastic bag with two fabric softener sheets if the musty odor persists. Seal the bag closed and keep it sealed for one week so the odors are absorbed by the sheets.
Fill small mesh bags with silica crystals. Place the bags in closets, drawers or storage chests with stored clothing items. The silica absorbs moisture and prevents the musty odor.
Hang musty clothing outside on a sunny day. The combination of sunlight and fresh air helps dissipate musty odors.