Armed with more than 400 types of olfactory (scent) receptors, humans can detect a trillion odors; citrus smells familiar to fruit like oranges, woody smells like the smell of a pine forest, and sweet smells such as chocolate and caramel.
Our sense of smell is an important one. It sends signals to our brain as to what is good and what is unpleasant. If it weren’t for the olfactory sense, we would be unable to detect mold, mildew, and bacteria.
Mold and bacteria can be both useful and harmful to you, depending on the type and how it enters your body. Your nose is a prime detector in determining the existence of moldy odors, particularly those that may be harmful to you.
Just think about what you do when foraging in the refrigerator. If it doesn’t smell good, we pitch it in the trash.
Why, then, do we think that bad odors coming from our basement are acceptable?
A big reason is odor conditioning. We get used to perennial musty smell floating around in our basement, and we cease to notice. However, getting used to does not make the smell less dangerous to your health. GreenWorks strongly recommends all its readers to get rid of the musty smell in their house as soon as possible.
And the first step towards freeing your home from unwanted smells is to get to know them.
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” — The Art of War, Sun Tzu
Types of Odors
Odors are derived from three categories:
1. Biological. They include mold, fungus, and bacteria
2. Chemical. These smell consist of those scents given off by different types of chemical compounds and concoctions. Examples include benzene, degreasing fluids found in many home cleaning products, products that are petroleum based or soil gasses that migrate up through the soil under your home.
3. Organic. These are smells that can come from biological organisms such as animals and insects, or be the by-product of a biological organism, such as sewage.
Right now, our concern is musty odors. They are biological and a health risk.
Musty Odors Are a Health Risk
It is important to address biological odors that occur in your home to protect and maintain your health as well as the health of others residing in the home or other shared space.
If left untreated, the mold may become an allergen and irritate the biological systems of many people. When mold spores become airborne and are inhaled, they can cause an allergic reaction in many people or even prove toxic to others, particularly those with a compromised immune system.
Greenworks’ Four+1 Ways to Get Rid of Musty Odors
Biological odors—those from mold and mildew—are caused by a variety of things. Mold is usually the result of moisture in your house which creates an environment perfect for spores to grow.
Locate the Source of Smell
Use your nose and remain vigilant in detecting mold, mildew, and bacteria. Take the effort to find the source of these smells.
Turn on Ventilation
Turn on your HVAC, bring in electric fans, or install ventilation fans to improve air flow in your house. The moving air will take out those musty smells out of the home and subdue mold growth.
Clean Your Room
Sweep up the dust, water, unnecessary furniture, and chattel from the house. Store them somewhere outside the house. Use a floor cleaner and open the windows. The smell will weaken.
Don’t Let Moisture Accumulate
Areas that are prone to moisture build-up should be inspected and sealed, with any moisture or water build up cleaned up immediately upon discovery. Ideally, the source of the water intrusion being corrected.
Call an Expert
Cat litter, newspapers and even charcoal briquettes can be used to eliminate moldy and musty smells in your home. But if those home remedies do not work and if you fail to even locate the source, we would suggest you call an expert.
New Jersey homeowners trust GreenWorks to remove musty smells from their homes because for GreenWorks nothing is more important than the health of your family and your home.
Originally published on December 17, 2014, updated September 25, 2017