How to Remove a Musty Smell From Cellar

Amanda Flanigan

It is not uncommon for cellars, crawl spaces and basements to have a musty aroma. A number of things could cause your cellar to have a musty odor. Stale air and fungus are the two most common causes of a musty cellar. Fortunately, you do not have to live with the musty odor.

Cellars are typically dirty, dusty and musty areas.

There are many ways to get rid of that musty smell and freshen your cellar for good.


Wear rubber gloves when working with bleach to prevent skin irritation.

  1. Examine the cellar for dead animals. Rats, moles and others animals can get trapped in your cellar and die. When their bodies begin to decay, it will fill your cellar and your home with an unpleasant odor. If you find a dead animal in your cellar, properly dispose of its body.

  2. Look for mold and mildew. Mold and mildew is a common problem in cellars. The fungus thrives in areas that are damp, dark and humid; and can give off a musty smell. If you find mold or mildew growing in your cellar remove it by scrubbing the area with a mixture of 1 ounce mild dish-washing liquid, 1 qt. bleach and 3 qt. water.

  3. Sprinkle baking soda. If your cellar has a dirt floor, liberally sprinkle baking soda throughout the floor. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer. It is relatively in expensive and will remove odors without the use of harsh chemicals.

  4. Place mothballs in various areas of your cellar. Alternatively, scatter charcoal briquettes throughout the cellar.

  5. Allow the cellar to air out. Open windows and doors to the cellar to allow fresh air in. Position fans so they suck the old, stale air out and blow fresh air into the cellar.

  6. Fill bowls with vinegar and place in around your cellar. Like baking soda, vinegar is a natural deodorizer and can remove musty odors from your cellar.

  7. Sprinkle commercial yard and concrete deodorizer granules around your cellar. These recyclable and non-toxic granules will eliminate odors both inside and outside your cellar.