6 Ways To Get Rid Of That Old House Smell

How To Get Rid Of Old House Smell: 6 Easy Ways

Owning an old house can be a delightful experience, with its rich history and unique character. However, one common problem that many homeowners face is the pervasive old house smell. 

This musty odor can be off-putting to potential buyers and can make a living in your home less pleasant. 

Fortunately, there are several effective methods to eliminate this smell and make your home more appealing. 

In this article, we will discuss practical and straightforward solutions to help you get rid of old house smells and prepare your property for sale.

How to Get Rid of Old House Smell Before Selling

If you’re planning to sell your house, it’s important to ensure it smells fresh. The scent of your home plays a significant role in a buyer’s first impression. 

A pleasant, clean smell can make your property more inviting, while a musty odor can drive potential buyers away. 

Addressing the old house smell before listing your home increases your chances of a quick and profitable sale and can help reduce the stress of selling a house. Here’s how.

  1. Inspect your basement, crawl space, and attic for signs of moisture or mold. Also, check under sinks and faucets for leaks and fix them promptly.
  2. Open all the windows and doors to encourage airflow throughout the house.
  3. Use dehumidifiers in damp spaces to reduce moisture and prevent mold growth.
  4. Carpets and upholstery can trap odors. Vacuum and clean them thoroughly.
  5. Wash walls with appropriate cleaning products to remove grease, dust, and odors.
  6. Dust and debris in your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can contribute to odors.
  7. Place bowls of baking soda or distilled white vinegar around the house to absorb odors.

Remember, a fresh-smelling home can make a big difference when selling.

What Causes an Old House Smell?

Before we dive into the solutions, it’s important to understand what causes that distinctive old house smell. Typically, the odor is a result of:

Stagnant Air

Older houses often lack proper ventilation, leading to trapped air ducts and odors.

Moisture and Humidity

Dampness in basements, walls, or carpets can lead to mold and mildew growth, which emits a musty smell.

Poor Ventilation

Limited airflow can trap odors from cooking, pets, smoke, and everyday living.

Fabrics can absorb smells over time, especially in homes that have seen years of use.

Dust and Dirt Accumulation

Dust can settle in every nook and cranny, contributing to a stale odor.

Rodents and insects can leave behind waste and nesting materials that create unpleasant smells.

Old Building Materials

Over time, organic materials like wood, fabric, and even dust break down, releasing volatile organic compounds.

Older homes might have materials like wood and insulation that degrade and emit odors as they age.

Pets and Previous Occupants

Pet dander, cooking smells, and other residues have accumulated over the years.

Understanding these causes can help you target the sources effectively and eliminate the smell for good.

Ways to Get Rid of Old House Smell

You can take several steps to rid your house of musty smells, ranging from deep cleaning to improving ventilation.

Here are six easy ways to make your old house smell fresh again.

Deep Cleaning Your House

A thorough cleaning is the first and most important step. It involves more than just regular dusting and vacuuming. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Clean Carpets and Upholstery: Use a steam cleaner to clean carpets and upholstery. If the smell persists, consider hiring a professional cleaner or replacing them.
  • Wash Walls and Ceilings: Dirt and grime can build up on walls and ceilings, especially in kitchens and bathrooms. Use a mixture of vinegar and water or a mild detergent.
  • Scrub Floors: Clean all hard floors, paying special attention to corners and under furniture. Mop with a disinfectant solution.
  • Clean Drapes and Blinds: These can hold onto odors. Wash or dry clean drapes, and wipe down blinds with a damp cloth.
  • Declutter: Remove any unnecessary items that can trap odors. It’s not only helps with the smell but also makes your home look more spacious and organized.
6 Ways To Get Rid Of That Old House Smell

Repainting Your House

A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for eliminating odors and giving your home a new, clean feel. Use a high-quality primer and paint, and consider choosing colors that brighten up your space.

  • Use Odor-Blocking Primer: This can seal bad smells from walls and prevent them from seeping through the new paint.
  • Choose Low-VOC Paints: These are better for indoor air quality and reduce the presence of chemical odors.
  • Select Light and Neutral Colors: Bright and neutral colors can make a room feel more open and inviting. They also reflect more light, enhancing the overall ambiance of the space. Light colors are also less likely to show dirt and wear, maintaining a fresher appearance over time.

Re-carpeting Your House

Old carpets can harbor dirt, dust, and odors. If cleaning doesn’t work, replacing the carpet might be necessary.

  • Remove Old Carpet: Take up the old carpet and padding, and inspect the subfloor for any signs of mold or mildew. Clean and treat the subfloor if needed.
  • Inspect and Prepare the Subfloor: Once the old carpet is removed, check the subfloor for damage, mold, or mildew. Clean thoroughly and treat any issues with appropriate cleaners or sealants. This step is important to ensure a solid foundation for your new carpet.
  • Install New Carpet: Choose carpets made from materials that resist moisture and odors.

Removing Fousty Furniture from Your House

Old furniture can be a significant source of musty odors. Evaluate your furniture and decide if it’s worth cleaning or replacing.

  • Deep Clean Upholstery: If the furniture is worth keeping, use a steam cleaner or hire a professional to clean it.
  • Replace What You Can: Sometimes, replacing old furniture is the best option. Look for pieces that are easy to clean and maintain.

Airing Your House Out

Proper ventilation is essential for maintaining a fresh-smelling home. Regularly airing out your house can help disperse stale air and bring in fresh air.

  • Open Windows: Letting in the fresh air can significantly reduce lingering odors. Open windows and doors for several hours, especially on nice days.
  • Use Fans: Ceiling fans and portable fans can help circulate air throughout your home.
  • Dehumidifiers: These can reduce moisture levels in the air, particularly in basements and other damp areas.

Installing New Ventilation

If your home suffers from poor ventilation, consider upgrading your ventilation system.

  • Install Exhaust Fans: In kitchens and bathrooms, exhaust fans can help remove moisture and odors.
  • HVAC Maintenance: Regular maintenance of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can ensure it’s working efficiently to circulate and filter air.
  • Air Purifiers: These can help remove airborne particles and odors, making the air in your home fresher.

Do You Need Professional Cleaners to Get Rid of Old House Smell?

In some cases, your efforts might not be enough to eliminate the old house smell completely. 

Professional cleaners can be a valuable resource in such situations. They have the expertise and equipment to deep clean hard-to-reach areas and effectively treat persistent odors.

Professional Carpet Cleaners

Regular vacuuming and steam cleaning might not be enough. Professional carpet cleaners use special equipment and techniques to get deep into the carpet’s fibers, removing dirt, dust, and odors that regular cleaning cannot.

Specialized Odor Removal Services

Professionals use methods like ozone treatments and thermal fogging. These techniques neutralize odors at a molecular level, meaning they don’t just cover up smells—they eliminate them.

Mold Remediation Experts

If mold is causing the smell, professional mold remediation experts can help. They make sure the mold is completely removed and treated so it doesn’t come back, ensuring the air in your home is clean and fresh.

Whether you’re dealing with a house that needs to be fixed or simply want to improve its appeal before selling, professional assistance can make a significant difference.


Getting rid of old house smell is essential for making your home a more pleasant place to live and for increasing its appeal to potential buyers. 

By understanding the causes of musty odors and taking steps such as deep cleaning, repainting, re-carpeting, removing musty furniture, improving ventilation, and possibly hiring professional cleaners, you can transform your home into a fresh and inviting space.

At Cream City Home Buyers, we understand that dealing with a problem property can be challenging. 

If you’re stressing about the costs of selling your house and want to sell your house in Fox Point, we offer specialized services to make the process smooth and efficient. Additionally, we buy houses in New Berlin, providing a convenient solution for homeowners looking to sell quickly and without hassle.

With our support, you can overcome property challenges and look forward to a brighter future.

Visit our blog for more tips and insights on managing problem properties, and contact us today to learn how we can assist you in selling your home for the best price and through the simplest process. 

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