waterproofing basement

How to Get Rid of Damp Basement Smell?

The unique and unmistakable basement smell instantly hints at one thing – damp. The pungent musty smell can make a basement unbearable. 

Basements are the ideal environment for damp, pungent musty smells caused by mildews and mould. This is because their temperatures are much cooler than the rest of the house, and cool air cannot retain enough moisture as the warmer air at the upper levels of the house. Such specifically moist cold surfaces are the perfect breeding ground for mould.

floor damp proof materials

How do you remove a damp smell in a basement?

To remove the musty odour from a basement, you must eliminate the excessive moisture from that help thriving of mildew and mould growing in the cracks of the concrete walls in incomplete basements and inside unfinished drywall. 

Let’s see step by step process to tackle the problem of musty smell from the basement. 

Find the Source of damp

You must find the weak spot in your house basement that allows the water to build up across the house. These problems with your gutter system or leaking downpipes mean water is pooling around the house and is not going to the drains. Here are some areas to check the leaks and cracks that could smell in the basement:

  • Basement exterior entrances
  • Basement windows
  • Exterior doors from the above floor
  • Kitchen and bathroom plumbing 
  • Windows from the above floor

You might also want to look if there are any changes at the ground level around the property. If the water is present there, it could be discharged towards the home where it has flowed away once. 

waterproofing basement

Remove Mould Growth

The cause of the damp smell comes from things lying in the basement that have mould growth them or wet such as furniture, newspapers, or fabrics are the first things to check as these can retain water and emit odour. 

If you see any signs of mildew and mould growth, you must get rid of such items. You must start as soon as possible. Use warm soapy water along bleach or vinegar to tackle mould and dampness to kill the spores. If the mould has penetrated the wood deeply, use sandpaper for sanding it off and clear dust using vacuum filters. 

Get Rid of Darkness and Stagnant Air

If a basement lacks sunlight and windows, property owners should consider using a dehumidifier to control the level of moisture. Keep the windows open. It should be opened during cool and dry weather so that sunshine and fresh air can permeate through the internal walls. The moisture from the air in cold, wet, or warm temperatures helps in the mildew growth, making it not favourable to open the windows in rainy, cold, or hot weather. 

Run a Dehumidifier

Running an electric dehumidifier continuously is another effective way to get rid of the excess moisture from the air and stop damp. Empty it when it’s full as it will help in the atmosphere control. Besides, you can use desiccant packs to trap the particles present in the air that are the source of musty odour. In addition, they are useful to place in corners and out-of-reach places where moisture is condensing. It should be replaced frequently. 

dehumidifier preventing damp and decreasing humidity

Damp Smell Absorbing Agents

You can do away with the cause of the damp, but the musty smell may stay. Fortunately, there are some clever yet simple ways to absorb the pungent odour. The most common way is to add some activated charcoal in the coffee jars. Charcoal is ideal for absorbing moisture and odd smells, and it will help purify the air in the basement. But, unfortunately, it usually takes one week for the charcoal to absorb everything. 

Moreover, cat litter is another cheap way to solve the issue. Fill a plate of cat litter and replace it every two weeks. Lastly, baking soda is also good to get rid of the smell. Open a box and leave it free in the basement. Again, replace this common household item every three months. 

Window Fan for Basement airflow

Install a window fan to the basement that helps to improve the ventilation and reduces the moisture in your basement while you are cleaning. However, it should not be used all year round. Instead, you must use it once occasionally on dry, cool days to refresh your basement air. 

It is advised not to open the basement windows when the outside weather is cold, rainy, or hot as it allows moisture to get in and condense the basement air on furnaces, pipes, and walls which rots and results in mould growth. 

Prevent Repeat Problems

After you have cleaned, dried, and freed your basement of all the musty smell, the key is to maintain it that way. Several things must be done here. First, it would be best if you got the following things done, such as:

  • Repair all the cracks and leaks that you may find in the basement walls, floors, or joints
  • Prevent the outdoor water from pooling around your building’s foundation or flooding groundwater
  • Consider re-installing a sump pump or drainage system to prevent groundwater from damaging your building’s foundation
  • Remove all the potted plants placed in the basement as it will only add to excessive moisture and fungus
  • Install plastic vapour barriers from seeping through your floors, walls, and ceilings
  • Clean your air conditioning ducts in the basement

However, one of the best options to have an odour-free basement is getting a damp proof specialist to look out for the damp causes and recommend measures to prevent the repeat issues permanently. For example, it might involve basement tanking and waterproofing, which stops the absorption of water by the brickwork. The experts can also help to install membranes on the walls to direct the moisture. 

basement waterproofing slurry on wall

Takeaway for removing damp smells in basements

With the tips mentioned above, you can remove the damp smell in a basement in no time. However, it is essential to watch for cracks and leaks, control the humidity. By taking actions to prevent the damp problem from coming back, you can enjoy a fresh and odour free home basement.

Don’t hesitate to contact our damp experts at Advanced Damp if you have damp in your basement. They will take care of everything from locating the damp source to stopping it to getting rid of the musty, damp smell. Besides, they will also help you prevent damp spreading to other parts of your home. So give us a call now!

Get Involved

Share on social media:

Share on facebook
Share on twitter

Related Posts

Need advice on Damp?

Talk to one of our experts:

Contact us Now



0800 861 1952


Quick Form

Fill in the form below and we will be in touch soon

Find us on Facebook

Advanced Damp

We are your local team of damp professionals, working across the South East of England. We have been providing damp treatments to residential and commercial homes for the past 30 years. All our services come free with a 20 year property maintenance guarantee. Get in touch with our damp specialists today for help and advice

Call Us Now