What Causes Musty Smell In The Bedroom & What To Do To Stop It

When you are ready to go to bed or just relax in your room, the last thing you want is to be hit by foul odors. If your bedroom smells musty, there are several things that can cause this to happen. Thankfully, there are also several things you can do to make the smell go away. This guide will help you identify the source of odors and provides tips to stop them.

Why does my bedroom smell musty?

Once a musty, mildewy, stinky odor has been recognized, unfortunately, they won’t resolve themselves on their own in most cases. To fix such issues, first, let’s discuss where the smells can originate from.

Mold or mildew growth

The most unequivocal explanation for the musty smell in the bedroom is of course visible mildew or mold. Fungus growth happens because of certain conditions. That means extra moisture in the air and poor ventilation allow mold spores to settle on various surfaces where they can start to grow and cause gray, black, greenish, or pinkish-yellowish spots depending on the type of the mold.

black mold growing around bedroom window

Mold growth in your home can lead to health problems. Touching or inhaling mold or mold spores may cause allergic reactions, irritations, or asthma attacks. Therefore, such problems need to be addressed immediately.


If your bedroom smells bad after rain or you suscept plumbing system errors, you need to check your roof and walls for leaks. Leaks don’t necessarily cause noticeable wet spots on the ceilings or walls but can lead to mold and mildew build-up in your attic or crawl space and behind the walls.

water leak on the ceiling

Eventually, this can cause damage to the structural materials of your home, and in addition to an unpleasant smell, you will also need to make significant repairs. Since such culprits often stay hidden, it is recommended to get your home checked by a professional technician from time to time but immediately when you notice any sign of leaking or even suspicious smells.


If you have a lot of moisture in your bedroom’s air, everything that is made from soft materials will begin to absorb water and retain the dampness: clothing that sits in a drawer or closet for a long time will smell like mildew, bedclothes, pillows, duvets, and mattresses will begin to have an odor and even your curtains and carpeting will stink because dampness is setting into the fabrics.

condensation on the window due to humidity

Excess moisture in the air doesn’t only make the items in your bedroom damp and musty, but after time, mildew or mold spots can appear on them and mold may start growing on the walls, ceiling, and around the windows. Therefore, all of these areas must be checked to find the cause when your bedroom smells like mildew and humidity needs to be controlled to prevent this from happening.

Poor ventilation

If there is a sour smell in your bedroom, but there is no visible mold or sign of leaking, the reason for stagnant air is probably poor ventilation. Stale air is usually due to the buildup of harmful pollutants mixed with carbon dioxide caused by breathing at night and is the worst in basement rooms or where there is no window.

basement bedroom

Lack of fresh air should be a concern not only because of musty smells, but it also affects the quality of sleep and may pose potential health risks such as fatigue, headaches, coughing, and allergy.

How to get rid of the musty smell in the bedroom?

Finding where the smell is coming from is only half of the problem. The next thing that you will have to do is to remove anything that may be causing the smell, or make necessary cleaning and/or repairs. In this section, we’ll discuss several methods on how to get rid of bedroom odors and keep it smelling fresh.

Give your bedroom a deep clean

No air freshening technique or product can fully eliminate odors if you don’t get rid that debris and spills that may stink. In short, a clean room is generally a pleasant-smelling room, so the first thing you need to do is a very thorough cleaning.

clean and fresh modern bedroom

On top of your weekly cleaning tasks, you want to wash your walls, windows, and curtains too. Changing your bedding should be done weekly, and at least once every season, refresh your pillows and duvets as well as deodorize your mattress. Not only will this make everything fresh, but it will also give you a chance to see if there are any problems in these areas, such as leaks, damages, or visible mildew and mold stains.

Refresh your carpets

Carpeting is still a popular floor covering option in bedrooms, but you have to pay extra attention to its cleaning to prevent it from stinking. Besides regular vacuuming, frequent deodorizing is the way to keep your carpet fresh and smelling.

modern bedroom with light colored carpet

To eliminate the musty smell from carpets and rugs, use baking soda. It is a fantastic odor absorber and can refresh the carpeting without using any toxic chemicals. Just simply sprinkle it on, let it sit for about 15 minutes, and then vacuum the carpet!

Author’s Tip: Learn how to make a DIY carpet freshener spray!

Reduce humidity

There is nothing that promotes mold growth better than excess moisture in the air, so if your room is humid, invest in a dehumidifier. Such a machine extracts the water from the air and is a must for those who live in a humid climate.

Gocheer Dehumidifier

Gocheer Dehumidifier

  • high-efficiency dehumidifier to quickly and effectively remove up to 1000ml of moisture from air per day
  • easy operation without loud or annoying noise
  • lightweight and portable, suitable for different rooms

A dehumidifier helps reduce musty odors, paintwork, or wallpaper damages as well as prevent the potential growth of mildew and mold on beddings, carpets, curtains, and soft furniture. For the best results, constantly monitor the humidity level in your home and run this machine until the air reaches the ideal moisture level.

Get an air purifier

Stale air can be easily freshened by using a purifier. Such devices have advanced filtration systems that will remove unseen dirt particles, bacteria, and pollutants including mold spores from the air that can contribute to the smell.

LEVOIT Air Purifier

LEVOIT Air Purifier

  • pre-filter and high-efficiency activated carbon filter to capture 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 microns in size, such as dust, smoke, pollen, odor
  • high-performance system, 360° air intake, cleans spaces up to 547 ft² in 30 minutes, 219 ft² in 12 minutes
  • QuietKEAP Technology, low noise levels to a near-silent 24dB ensuring the Core 300 won’t get in the way of a good night’s rest

Stagnant air is not only unpleasant to smell but also unhealthy to breathe; people who suffer from allergies or have respiratory issues can benefit a lot from using an air purifier. A small, quiet device can run even at night, and like this prevents those unpleasant morning smell in the bedroom.

Use air fresheners

You can also use air fresheners or home-scenting products to achieve a nice smell in your bedroom. This can be a scented candle, an essential oil diffuser, a room mist, or a plug-in air freshener, it depends on your personal preferences. Choose scents that help relax, such as sandalwood, bergamot, or lavender that promoting better sleep.

scented candle on bedside table

However, keep in mind that such products don’t remove, only mask the smell, and covering an odor with another scent will just appear more unpleasant to our senses, so first, always find where the moldy odor is coming from.

Add live plants to the room

A great way to combat odors and improve your home’s air quality is to add some greenery. Bedroom plants give your room a nice appearance, absorb excess moisture from the air, filter airborne bacteria and pollutants, and by releasing oxygen, they naturally purify the air.

green snake plant next to bed

There are many simple things that you can do when your bedroom smells musty. The most important thing to remember, however, is that you have to find the source so that once you have cleaned and refreshed, your sleeping area will stay smelling great.

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