Asked on Aug 16, 2015

Grout on bathroom tile smells musty

by Stephanie
The grout surrounding the bathroom tile smells musty. Specifically, it is the grout around the tub/shower. I do not see any stains from mold/mildew. The smell permeates the whole house unless I keep the door closed all day. Is there something I can put over it to kill the smell? Would adding a thin layer of new grout help?
  9 answers
  • Mandy Brown Mandy Brown on Aug 16, 2015
    Try making a paste with baking soda and water. Rub it into the grout really well. Take a bit of vinegar on a sponge and squeeze it over the baking soda paste. It will start bubbling, but wait until it stops. After it's finished bubbling, go back over it with warm water to get all the dirt and baking soda out. Not only should it clean the grout, but it should take the odor with it. You also should put a grout sealer on it when you've finished. Most people don't keep a grout sealer on their tiles, but it should be done periodically. They sell it in a spray can now so it's a lot easier to use.
  • Lynda Dexter Lynda Dexter on Aug 16, 2015
    Another thing to try is to mix 50/50 Listerine and water in a spraybottle. mist the area let sit 30 min or more and then wipe clean. It does have to be the alcohol Listerine either the blue or the gold will work.
  • Stephanie Stephanie on Aug 16, 2015
    Thank you for your suggestions! I will try both. I'm hoping they work, as it is getting annoying walking into a musty smelling home!! Thanks again!
  • Kathy Meador Wells Kathy Meador Wells on Aug 16, 2015
    You might have a ventilation problem in your bathroom. The ideas above are great, how ever they are temporary fixes. If you don't have a ventilation problem you might have a leakage problem from pipes. It might just be that the grout is not the right kind of grout for a bathroom and your drywall is bad. Either way you need someone to look at it all to see what the real problem is. Been there done this.
  • Stephanie Stephanie on Aug 16, 2015
    I'm pretty sure I do have a ventilation problem. It was built in 1969, and has the original pink tile! It has a window, but no exhaust fan. Also, I don't know if the drywall behind the tile is correct, as I am not sure they even had drywall for behind showers back then---most people had baths, but not showers. It's a rental, though, so I have to do what I can do, and let the landlord handle the rest.
  • Bananas! Bananas! on Aug 17, 2015
    Agree with @Kathy Meador Wells the smell is horrible and that's cause it's wet rot, pure and simple. It's a smell you won't forget. Sounds like you need to unfortunately remove the tile and redo probably the walls and the tile.....also add ventilation, all that is code now but back then nothing seemed to be to code. Oops, so tell your landlord he needs to change it out or his investment is going to crumble!!!
  • I think the bathroom was not cleaned properly last time you had a water damage at your place. When mold or mildew remediation is not done properly then there are chances that a foul smell would come out after some time. I would suggest you to call in some expert professional to ask for a solution.
  • Deb K Deb K on Oct 12, 2022

    Hi Stephanie, hope this helps you out.

  • Kelley Martin-Adams Kelley Martin-Adams on Feb 25, 2024

    Stephanie, what did you find that worked??

    Doing some research for a house cleaning client of mine...After 10 years in this field, I can't figure out their particular problem from the smell of mildew!! 🤢