One of the most common odor problems people encounter in their house or apartment is the musty smell in the bathroom that is really hard to get rid of. The damp environment and non-circulating air is perfect to promote mold growth that is not only an aesthetical issue but also a health concern, so it needs to be treated asap. Here I share what factors I check when I experience that my bathroom smells like mildew and give tips on how to prevent it.
Why does my bathroom smell musty – Top causes of mildew-like odors
The problem we face when noticing mold smell in the bathroom is complex and there can be several reasons behind it. Sometimes, fungal growth is clearly noticeable: you see black spots on the ceiling or pinkish, yellowish areas on the shower curtain, but sometimes the source of musty odors stays hidden. Here I list the main reasons behind the stagnant smell in the bathroom so it becomes easier to localize where that mildew-like odor is coming from.
Growth of fungus
When fungus starts growing on your bathroom surfaces, the result would be musty smells. Mold grows well in dark and watery surfaces, including the tiled, fiberglass or wooden surfaces. Therefore, if you notice black spots on the ceiling, in the shower grout, mold on the shower curtain, musty-smelling drains or a sour smell in your bathroom, then fungus has started growing.
That said, it’s the leading cause of the musty smell coming from your bathroom. Grown mold can be quickly cleaned through DIY tricks, but if it has covered an area larger than a square foot, you might need a professional to clean it off.
Dampness attracts mold spores present in the air that flows through the bathroom to settle on surfaces and grow. Excess moisture also indicates poor bathroom drainage.
If most surfaces in your bathroom are ever wet, it means that water doesn’t flow out efficiently, and you might need to have the bathroom checked for leakages, defective mortar or cracked walls.
If your bathroom doesn’t have proper ventilation, mold is likely to grow, leading to musty smells. Bathrooms are continually moist, and if air doesn’t flow undisturbed, the moist/humid environment formed could attract growth and thrive of mold.
The easy way to tell if your bathroom has mold formation is by checking whether there are brown, black or white spots on the walls or of there is a musty smell. Ventilation is a key thing to pay attention to especially if your bathroom doesn’t have a window.
Dirty surfaces and drains
One key catalyst for mildew to grow fast and densely around the bathroom is dirty surfaces and drains. If you leave basements, closets, dresser drawers, towels and bathmats dirty, you might quickly start noticing mold growth.
That is because dirt and dust particles are the food mildew needs to grow soon after the temperature and moisture hit the proper levels. Keeping the surfaces around the bathroom clean is the first step to prevent bathroom smells.
If you can’t find the source of mildew odor in your bathroom, you should check the drains too: dirt sometimes stays hidden behind the stoppers and pop-ups!
How To Get Rid Of Musty Smell In Bathroom
After discovering mold around your bathroom, the immediate best step is getting it cleaned since those black spots cause not only musty smells but can cause health problems too. If the situation is not too developed, the issue can be easily addressable by yourself and wouldn’t require complex tools. However, some mold formation problems would need a professional to resolve.
Wash off the surfaces
The quick way to clean off musty stench and achieve that fresh-smelling bathroom is by cleaning surfaces where the mildew has formed. Start by wiping off the black spots from the bathroom walls and removing mold from the tile grouts, wash off the hand-towels, bathroom rags, window and shower curtains, and every other part of the bathroom that’s mildew infested.
Consider getting the work done in an eco-friendly way. Cleaning the bathroom with vinegar and baking soda is a safe and effective way to get rid of dirt and odors. Another natural cleaner is Sodium Tetraborate (Borax) which is a powdery white substance derived from boron.
- pure powdered Sodium Borate with no additives or preservatives
- all-natural multipurpose cleanser that you can use to make a cleaning spray, to unclog drains, remove mold, refresh your gargabe disposal and even as fabric softener
- safe, contains no harsh and has no heavy smells; non-irritating on skin
It is very alkaline with a pH level of 9.3, therefore applying it on moldy areas makes the environment not suitable for more mold growth.
Get water issues addressed and drains cleaned
One instance a bathroom smells musty is when you have leaks or clogged drains. The solution for such problems is simple: get the leak repaired, clean and deodorize the drains!
A dripping faucet, leaking shower or toilet can be fixed by yourself too if the issue is not too serious, but the best is to get a plumber because sometimes the leakage is hidden behind the walls. When the repair is done, make sure to fully clean all holes and cracks, let them dry out and properly seal them so mildew can’t start growing again.
- fast-acting mold stain remover spray, instantly targets deeply embedded stains that linger between bathroom tiles, in grout lines, under the sink, and on shower doors
- no scrubbing needed, ready-to-use powerful formula
- removes unwanted odors too to keep your home free of musty, damp smells
If it is a smelly sink drain or stinky shower drain that is causing the mildew-like odor, deep clean it! You can use the above-mentioned natural cleaning solutions mixed with hot water, or if you need more power, get a bleach-based mold remover spray but make sure to use it with caution since such products can contain harsh chemicals.
Applying Fresh Paint Coat
Another strongly recommended way to treat musty smells and prevent further formation of mildew is re-painting the walls and ceiling. A properly applied bathroom paint that prevents mold can effectively inhibit mold growth to lower issues with indoor smells and keep your bathroom smell fresher and cleaner.
Experts recommend that you first treat the affected areas before you apply the paint. For the best results, you can even apply a mildew-resistant primer on your walls and ceiling to prevent issues with peeling in case of excess moisture formation.
Try odor eliminators
If you regularly ventilate your bathroom and clean the mildew but still the musty odor doesn’t fade away, consider using smell eliminators. Lots of odor-absorbing products are offered to help you keep your bathroom smelling fresh that are cheap, easily portable and doesn’t even need electricity to work!
- stop odor and damp by absorbing excess moisture, convenient natural odor eliminator for daily use to maintain a fresh environment
- safe and natural, can be used around kids and pets too
- multi-sized bags, fit all spaces such as closet, drawers, gym bags, shoe wardrobe, bathroom and even fridge
Among the products,- you can try to eliminate bathroom smells are kitty litter, charcoal briquettes, and again, baking soda and vinegar. Keeping these products in your bathroom ensures all the musty smell is absorbed and the air circulating around your bathroom is fresh and clean. Ohh yes, and my favorites; plants! Bathroom plants will not only help absorb odors, but also control humidity!
Use dehumfidifier and air purifier
To keep your bathroom mold-free in the long run, the best solution will be to install high-performance dehumidifier and air purifier! Such devices require a little bit more investment but will minimize the risk of mold growth and like this, the risk of mold-related health issues too.
If your bathroom feels extremely humid, it’s recommended to purchase a high-power dehumidifier to take moisture out of the air and help keep the indoor air dry. If you don’t experience high-level humidity but still there is a stagnant smell, a bathroom air purifier might solve the issue! It will boost airflow helping to get rid of bacteria and mold particles circulating around leaving your bathroom smelling fresh and clean.
Inspired? Pin it!
"Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase, I'll make a small commission at no extra cost to you."