38 Home Remedies to Remove Mildew Smell

Home remedies to remove mildew smell

Mildew is a fungus similar to mold tends to leave unpleasant odor wherever it is formed. The causes behind the smell may be anything from poor ventilation, excess moisture, humidity, to excessive warm conditions. There are several places where mildew can grow and thrive such as basements, bathrooms, in the corners, books, cars, storage sheds, air ducts, etc. Getting rid of this musty smell is not a tough or impossible task, you just need to have few things to remove it effectively. If you are wondering how to get rid of mildew smell from car, walls, carpets, books or laundry, we’ve got you covered. Our home remedies to remove mildew smell are effective and all natural. Try before buying any costly chemical based products from the market.

How to get rid of mildew smellHow to get rid of mildew smell

1. Scrub The Affected Area

The best way to get rid of all unpleasant smells from your house is to give every affected area a good scrubbing time with an effective cleaning agent. To make a cleaning scrub yourself, you will need: 2 parts of vinegar (preferably white), 2 parts hydrogen peroxide, 1 part of boric acid and 4 parts of water. Use this solution to scrub the affected areas to get rid of the smell altogether.

Note: Do not use too much of the solution as it may increase the moisture levels.

2. Grapefruit Seed Extract Spray

To get rid of mildew, add 20 drops of grapefruit seed extract to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle. Spray the infested area thoroughly with this solution and allow it to air dry.

3. Tea Tree Oil Solution

This is one of the easiest solution that you can prepare for the nasty smell. Add 1 tsp of tea tree oil to 1 cup of water and spray the mix over the affected area. Let it dry on its own. The smell will fade away within a few days.

4. Vodka

Vodka can be used to eliminate the foul odor of mildew from almost everywhere. Just take any inexpensive vodka and transfer it into a spray bottle. Spray the infested area with this and leave it for 15 minutes. Use an old toothbrush to scrub it later on.

Remove mildew smell from clothes

Before you use any of the method, make sure to check your washing machine as it can be one of the sources of mildew. Wash it properly and also make sure that clothes are dried out in the sun. Check out these easy and effective methods to remove mildew smell from clothes.

5. Borax

This is the best method to remove mildew smell from clothes. Take 1/2 cup of borax and add it to a cup of hot water. Mix it well until the borax is dissolved and add the mixture in your washing machine (after you have filled it with water and clothes). Run your washer as long as you can, with the longest and hottest cycle your clothes could handle.

6. Vinegar

Another wonderful ingredient to remove the odor from clothes is vinegar. First of all, mix a cup of vinegar to hot water in your washing machine loaded with the clothes experiencing the smell. Run it without the detergent. After some time, add detergent to the same load and run the washer again. Dry the clothes properly afterwards.

Note: you can add another cup of vinegar at the time of rinsing, this would remove the smell completely.

7. Baking Soda

This is also one of the easiest and effective method to remove the unpleasant odor of mildew from clothes. All you need is baking soda when you wash the clothes. Add a cup of baking soda to your load in the washing machine and run it with the longest and hottest cycle possible. Dry your clothes out in the sun to completely remove of the smell from your clothes.

Note: You can also mix vinegar and baking soda and then wash the clothes as usual.

8. Heavy Detergent

Sometimes simple detergents are not enough to remove the mildew odor from the clothes. If your fabric is not delicate and the instruction label does not have any warning mentioned, you can use heavy detergents to wash those clothes.

Note: Look for detergents suitable for construction workers, mechanics and hunters if the smell of the clothes is really strong.

9. Disinfectant Concentrate

This method is for clothes and fabric such as towels, which are not delicate. For this method, fill the washing machine with water and add ¾ cup of disinfectant concentrate to it. Put your clothes in the machine and soak them for 5-10 minutes. The concentrated solution will kill the bacteria causing this smell. Run the machine for 5 minutes. Then, add detergent to the same and wash the clothes as usual.

10. Ammonia

To remove mildew smell from towels, use ammonia. First of all, fill your machine with boiling water and then, add some laundry detergent. Wash your towels and add ½-1 cup of ammonia while rinsing. Let the machine wash the load and let them dry in the dryer or sunlight. The smell will be soon vanished.

Remove mildew smell from walls

11. Temperature Control

As mildew requires warm temperature and humidity to thrive, it is essential to control the temperature of the basements so that these fungi are unable to grow. If someone is living in the basement, just ask them to keep it dry.

12. Humidity Control

Another factor that needs to be checked is the level of humidity. These organisms grow rapidly in humid environment. Use proper dehumidifier to keep humidity in check. You can also use AC to control humidity in your basements.

13. Ventilation Control

Proper ventilation will also do the job for you. Make sure that your basement has lots of windows and proper sunlight also reaches. Turn on the exhaust fan frequently so that foul odor is removed. Using oscillating fan will also help remove the mildew smell to a large extent as when the air is concentrated at one place without moving, the stale quality of air causes mustiness and becomes smelly.

14. Waterproof The Basement

Water is one of the main causes of this problem. As these organisms grow in wet areas, a small leak can cause enormous damage and it should be checked. Waterproofing will thus help eliminate mildew smell from your basement completely.

15. Clean Dryer Vent

This is another area that should be checked in your home. Moisture builds up in blocked vents and serves as a perfect environment for mildew to thrive. Make sure that all your vents are clean and are not blocked by rodents, nests etc. To get rid of the musty smell, clean all the vents in the basement timely.

16. Baking Soda

To remove mildew smell from basement and home, just fill some old bowls and containers with baking soda and place them in the corners of your basement and at the smell-prone areas for up-to three months to completely get rid of it.

17. Vinegar Bowls

Just like baking soda bowls you can use bowls or containers filled with vinegar as well. Use the strongest vinegar or white vinegar available to do the work. The smell of vinegar may be strong on the first day but it is guaranteed that after one or two days, there will be no musty smell in the basement.

18. Kitty Litter

Place kitty litter in a few bowls or containers and place them at several places in the basement. Replace them after some days. This will help eliminate the unpleasant smell widely.

Note: You can also use this method anywhere, even in vacant, closed houses.

19. Bleach Solution

This is another mildew smell removal method from the basement. Prepare a solution by mixing half cup of bleach and a gallon of hot water. Transfer the content into a spray bottle and spray it in the places such as floors, balcony, laundry areas, etc. of your basement to get rid of the unpleasant mildew smell.

Note: Never use bleach in conjunction with any other product.

Remove Mildew Smell From Carpet

20. Vacuum The Area

As soon as you smell the odor in your house, start with vacuuming your carpets. Due to the dust and dirt hidden in the carpets, they are more prone to mildew. If possible, try to use large and powerful vacuum instead of a small hand-held one so that it cleans up the dirt more effectively.

21. Vinegar, Water And Baking Soda

To remove the unpleasant smell from carpet, mix 1 cup of vinegar with 2 cups of warm water after the vacuum. Transfer the content into a spray bottle and spray the affected area. On this, sprinkle some baking soda and let it dry. Keep it for a few hours and vacuum clean afterwards.

Note: Don’t use too much of vinegar on carpet as it has a strong smell which would stay longer on the wet carpet.

22. Mild Shampoo

This is another method to remove mildew smell from carpet. First of all, scrub the spot of mildew and vacuum it properly. Next, take a sponge and apply any good mild shampoo or carpet shampoo on it. Rub this onto the carpet on the affected area. Keep this for at least 20-30 minutes. Use vacuum later on to clean the dried carpet. Repeat if the smell still exists.

Remove Mildew Smell From Car

23. Vacuum Cleaner, Air Freshener And Baking Soda

  • To remove mildew smell from car, first of all, find the source of the smell. It may come from the AC, its filter, seat or any other material.
  • To start, remove all the removable items such as mats, covers,etc., from your car and place them in sunlight. It helps remove the foul odor from everything.
  • Secondly, open all the car doors and scrub the mildew spots. You can use hair dryer for spot drying.
  • Next, spread some baking soda over the surface to prevent further growth of mildew and its odor. You can also keep bowls of baking soda in the places where you cannot spread the powder.
  • Keep this overnight and vacuum clean the next day. Lastly, use an air freshener to treat yourself to a pleasant smell.

24. Homemade Anti-Mildew Spray

To remove the mildew smell from car prepare an anti-mildew spray by mixing 4 tsp of apple cider vinegar, 4 tsp of tea tree or grape seed oil, 1/2 tsp of dish detergent and 3 cups of water. Transfer the mix in a spray bottle and spray the affected areas in your vehicle. Let it dry and evaporate completely. There will be no trace of any foul odor after this.

Note: Make sure that the windows are slightly open to ensure faster drying.

25. Dry Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds can also be used for the purpose of removing bad odor. Fill several containers with dry coffee grounds and place them under the front seats with lids off in your car for 6-7 days, until the odor is removed. You can replace the bowls with fresh ones if necessary.

Note: This method can be used to remove the smell from basements, shelves and other places of too.

26. Shampoo And Sunlight

This is the easiest method to remove unpleasant smell from your automobile. First of all, take out the removable such as mats, covers, etc., from your car and wash them with a mild shampoo. This will not only remove the odor but will eliminate the mildew as well. After washing these items, keep them out in the sunlight. The UV rays will remove any leftover smell.


1. Open the doors of your vehicle and keep the vehicle out in sunlight once in 15 days to prevent the growth of mildew.

2. If you do not want to use shampoo, you can use car cleaners to wash the car.

27. Air Drying- Mechanical And Chemical

As mentioned earlier, mildew thrives in wet and humid environment, therefore it is important to keep the automobile clean and dry so that the fungus does not find the suitable environment to multiply.

  • Mechanical Air Drying: For this, you can use the AC of your car for air circulation or heat your vehicle for some time. Open the doors and windows to expel the moisture-laden air to get rid of the mildew completely.
  • Chemical Air Drying: Place products such as moisture absorbing silica gel, anhydrous calcium sulfate and alumina in your car so that they can absorb every trace of moisture and make it mildew free. Use cloth bags for the chemicals or you can place the open containers on the floor. Just make sure that the windows are sealed enough to not let in the moisture from outside.

28. White Vinegar And Borax Powder

You can prepare another mildew spray by mixing 2 tbsp of borax, ¼ cup of vinegar and 2 cups of warm water. This solution when sprayed on infested area will not only kill the mildew but will remove the smell too.

Note: Shake the mixture well before use.

Remove Mildew Smell From Books

29. Newspaper

To remove the mildew smell from books, just take out the books and place newspapers between the pages. Try to use new newspapers so that the ink is not transferred to the books. Cover the outside of the book with newspaper and keep it in a plastic wrap or container. Also replace the newspaper every 3 days. The book will be free from the odor in some days.

Note: Do not place the newspapers for prolonged hours as they can cause damage to your books due to the presence of acidity.

30. Fabric Softener Sheet

These sheets are used to absorb odor from fabrics and can help in removing the odor from the books too. To do so, cut the sheets according to the size of the book and place them between the pages (You don’t need to keep it between every page, keep 1 between every 15-20 pages). After this, keep the book in a zip lock bag for few days and watch the smell go.

31. Essential Oil

Essential oil smells great and therefore is helpful in removing the unpleasant, musty odor from the books. For this, you will need cotton, small re-sealable bags and any essential oil. Take few drops of essential oil and put it on some pieces of cotton. Pack these cottons in re-sealable bags and place them in your books for few days. Your books will smell good in few days.

32. Fragrant Drawer Liner

Just like newspaper and fabric softener, you can use drawer liner for removing smell from books. Just cut 2-3 pieces according to the size of the book and place them in the book. Now, keep the book in a zipper bag for few days and the smell will fade away. Replace the sheets with new ones if necessary.

33. Zeolite

It is a non-toxic, naturally occurring rock and has odor absorbing abilities. Just take some pieces of zeolite and place them in the book for few days. If the odor of zeolite is lost then place that piece in direct sunlight or at highest temperature of your oven for 20 -30 minutes. The odor absorbing capabilities will be restored and you can reuse the piece.

34. Activated Charcoal

Charcoal is another wonderful thing that helps remove the mildew smell not just from books but from the other items too as it will absorb the moisture and the foul smell. It will take around 5-6 days but will surely do the work. Place the pieces of charcoal in the bookshelves and in between the books. You can wrap it in cheesecloth and place it in between the pages of a book experiencing the mildew smell.

Note: You can place this anywhere in your home, basement, car, etc., to eliminate the pungent smell.

35. Denatured Alcohol

Denatured alcohol can also be used to kill mildew smell from books. Take a piece of clean cloth and damp it with the alcohol. Apply it over the pages and cover of the book that are affected with the smell.


1. Check the effect of the alcohol on the corner of the book for deterioration before applying it to the whole book.

2. This method can be used for both paperback and hardcover books.

36. Cornstarch

To remove mildew smell from a damp book, place a lot of cornstarch between the pages and put the book in a zip-lock bag for 5-6 hours. Remove the cornstarch with a soft toothbrush after that. Repeat if moisture is still there.

Note: You can repeat the same procedure with baking soda as well to get rid of the foul odor.

37. Air And Sunlight

If your book is wet or damp, first of all, use fan or hair dryers to remove the excess moisture. Once the book no longer has dampness, keep the book out in sunlight for about an hour. The UV rays from sun will not only kill the mildew but will remove the unpleasant odor too.

Note: Don’t keep the book out in sunlight for long duration as it may damage the colors.

38. Hydrogen Peroxide

To prevent the growth of mildew on books, firstly, take a soft toothbrush and brush the pages of the book gently to remove any mildew. Next, damp a piece of cloth with hydrogen peroxide and apply it over the pages gently. Let the peroxide evaporate on its own to remove the smell.


1. Leave washing machine doors open after every use and let them dry.

2. If you live in sunny areas, always dry your clothes in the sun to kill the germs and bacteria.

3. For books, use proper storage container.

4. Keep books, mats of car and carpet out in sunlight if any hint of smell is there.

5. Call a professional if the growth of mildew is extensive.

6. Properly air out closed areas and cupboards from time to time.

7. To eliminate the smell instantly, use room sprays and use scented candles.


1. Avoid prolonged direct sunlight exposure.

2. Avoid bleach on books. It may damage it.

3. Don’t use chemical based products (which contains chlorine) on delicate carpets and fabrics. It may discolor them.

4. Don’t put wet clothes in cupboards.


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