What Causes Musty Living Room Smells And How To Stop Them

Have you ever walked into your living room, taken a deep breath, and realized things smell rough? Weird, funky, and musty odors can make it hard to enjoy your home. Fortunately, this problem is easy to solve. All you have to do is figure out the cause of why your living room smells musty and follow this guide to fix it so it will be welcoming for you and for your guests too.

What Can Cause a Musty Smell In the Living Room?

Typically, smells in the living room are caused by simple issues such as inadequate ventilation, dirty carpets, curtains, and furnishing or water leaks. Let’s dive into how to identify the source of odors!

Poor Ventilation

Did you know that indoor air can be more polluted than outdoor air? Studies have found that modern homes tend to trap a lot of air, so pollutants and toxins can build up and may cause odors.

modern living room with big windows

In many cases, a musty-smelling living room is just a poorly ventilated living room; this usually happens when the room has only fixed windows that can not be opened. Seeing whether ventilation is the problem is easy to test. Try burning scented candles for a little, blowing them out, and checking back in a few hours later. If you can still smell the fragrance strongly, it means your indoor air is barely moving so you should think about improving the ventilation.

Moldy Walls and Carpets

Another culprit to keep an eye out for is mold and mildew. Mold can flourish in a variety of damp environments. It can be behind your drywall, on your carpet, or even under your sofa.

Mold causes a broad range of unpleasant smells. Some species smell sharp and sour while others smell rotten or sweet. In addition to horrible smells, it also causes discoloration. You probably have mold if you’ve noticed black, brown, green, gray, or pink splotches appearing. Some species of mold look like tiny specks while others may create rings or blotches.

Should you notice such smells or signs, address the issue immediately since the presence of mold affects not only indoor air quality but also your health.

Water Leaks

Water leaks are one of the leading causes of musty smells. In addition to helping mold and mildew growth, stagnant water can rot wood, harbor stinky bacteria, or attract pests.

Water leaks often happen behind the walls or on top of the ceiling where you can’t see them. If possible, check your attic during a rainstorm to see if water is getting in. You can also look in corners, around windowsills, and under doors.

Ancient Odors

If your room smells musty but no mold is present, the issue might just be general old smells. Things like pets, food, cigarette smoke, and everyday dirt all create tiny odorous particles that can get trapped in your upholstery, walls, and floors. Especially in older homes with a lot of soft furnishings, this can lead to musty smells in the living room.

classical living room with carpets sofas and many pillows

What Should You Do If Your Living Room Smells Musty?

If your living room is smelling rough, there’s no need to stress. Once you address the musty smell sources, a few simple fixes can have it smell great in no time at all.

Get Fresh Air Flowing by Improving Your Ventilation

Start by getting better airflow. You can allow air to circulate by opening windows or turning on a fan. However, if you still have stagnant air, you might need to find some other ways to bring in fresh air. In some cases, it can be necessary to adjust your HVAC system to boost air circulation.

Find Ways to Lower Humidity

Decreasing humidity won’t stop the growth of mold and mildew immediately, but it will keep more from growing. It is useful to place a hygrometer in your living room so you can constantly measure the humidity level in the air which ideally should be between 40-60%.

To lower humidity, you first need to stop the source of any leaks and remove any moisture accumulating in obvious spots. Next, add some simple dehumidifiers to fix the damp smell. The cheapest option is passive dehumidifiers that just absorb moisture from the ambient air. If you really want to lower humidity, get a humidifier with a motor and a built-in air filtration device.

Deep Clean Your Upholstery and Carpets

If you have rugs, upholstery, or carpets, cleaning them thoroughly is a great way to refresh your living room. Try a deep clean with the proper cleaning solution and steam cleaner for your fabric type. This can both kill mold and remove dust or other unpleasant carpet smells.

Purify Your Air With Houseplants

Houseplants are an ideal way to make the air smell fresher in homes with a lot of old, set-in smells. They absorb organic compounds from the air and produce oxygen.

air purifying plants in the living room

When looking for houseplants to clean the air, try broad-leaved varieties like Sansevieria and fiddle-leaf fig. You can also try fragrant plants, like rosemary or scented geranium, to add pleasant smells to the air.

Tackle Stinky Walls With Paint or Renovations

The drywall or plaster in your living room can trap a surprisingly high amount of odors. Fixing this issue can require some renovations. The easiest option is to clean the walls and apply odor-trapping primers.

If there was mold in the walls, the best is to mount new drywall. Although bleach-containing solutions can bring a temporary solution, if you don’t replace every part of the wall that was affected, you are risking facing more serious mold growth in the future that may have a huge impact on your health and also damage the structure of your property.

Give Air Fresheners a Try

Air fresheners tend to get a bad rep for covering up bad smells with weird, artificial scents. However, the reality is that it can be very helpful to use some if you are struggling with unpleasant smells in your home.

scented candles on living room table

The right air freshener can take your room from foul-smelling to nicely fragranced. Try options like a reed diffuser with essential oils, quality scented candles, or fresh flowers to keep your living room smelling fresh.

Final Thoughts

When wondering “how to stop my living room from smelling of mold” as you can see there are many ways to get rid of foul odors. It’s all about finding causes of musty smells and figuring out ways to neutralize them. It can take a little trial and error to find the right solution for your unique situation. I suggest always starting with identifying the source so you can address the problem properly. In most cases, easy fixes such as a deep cleaning will help. If your living room smells musty still, you can progress to more complex solutions like painting or renovations

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