Asked on Jan 20, 2015

Musty/closed up smell in newly purchased home

i just bought a home that had been mostly vacant except part time weekends for the past 10 years and the home smells musty. It is kinda hard to open all windows and doors as we live in a cold climate. I don't want to just mask it but would like to have ideas of how to get rid of smell. I cleaned the carpets and am now painting. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. The main room and den both have this original tongue and groove paneling. The rest of home is drywall. Also what should I use on the paneling to clean it?
  18 answers
  • Lucy Nunn Lucy Nunn on Jan 20, 2015
    That's going to be a beautiful room when you get window treatments up! I talked to a cabinet guy who said that the only thing he would ever use on his wood cabinets is Murphy's Oil Soap. I've been using it ever since on all my wood products. If it leaves the wood dull, I go over it with a lemon oil soaked rag. Unless there's actual mildew or mold, I think your painting and new fabric will get rid of the smell and getting the windows open asap. I personally don't like those smelly sprays, but there are some unscented (ahem) ones that supposedly just kill germs. ??
  • Lela Lela on Jan 20, 2015
    Charlynne .... "Damp Rid" might help. It's designed to absorb moisture, but it helps with the musty smell in our basement. You can find it at Walmart or home improvement stores and it comes in different forms. Good Luck !
  • Vicki Vicki on Jan 20, 2015
    Lela has the same solution I was going to recommend. We use it in our second home up north because we close it up for several months at a time. We place damp rid in every room and sometimes several in one room (depending on the size). We also hang them in our closets and it does help a lot.
  • LJ Elliott LJ Elliott on Jan 20, 2015
    It could also be your fireplace... If it's a woodburner.have someone clean your pipes, and clean the inside, out really well, small scraper works well on inside walls..sometimes it's easy to forget they put off a odor if not used often.
  • Erin Erin on Jan 20, 2015
    We bought a large room air purifier and let it run for about a week straight, it helped a lot with the musty smell.
  • Cynthia Cook Cynthia Cook on Jan 20, 2015
    Did a building inspector check for leaks? Ours was coming from a water leak, outside gutters needed to be adjusted.
  • Cynthia Cook Cynthia Cook on Jan 20, 2015
    Also, you said you 'cleaned' the carpet...might be coming off that too...check under carpet for moisture...I had same issues in a home I bought..carpet was damp from leak.
  • Ilona Elliott Ilona Elliott on Jan 20, 2015
    If the house is on a crawl space and there is no visqueen plastic sheeting on the ground mildew odors will come right out of the ground. Something like 60 % of indoor air comes up through the floor, so mildew, moisture, mold below the floors could be a culprit. If there is a basement that is damp a de-humidifier would help.
  • Michael lacey Michael lacey on Jan 21, 2015
    Hi, I think some damp here, Made worse by home shut up for long periods. Get someone to check base of walls with a meter. Also below froorboards. This prob. may right it's self when you can throw oper windows in the Summer. More ventilation under the floor required.
  • OnBlissStreet OnBlissStreet on Jan 21, 2015
    A really great way to freshen up your whole home is to put about 10 drops of essential oil onto your furnace filter. The scent goes through your entire home.
  • Charlynne Wondra Charlynne Wondra on Jan 21, 2015
    Thanks everyone. I'm gonna try a few of these recommendations. I also think the living in it will help. Thanks for all the advise!!
  • Terrie Neudorf Terrie Neudorf on Jan 21, 2015
    Most hardware stores sell an air sponge that you can put in the room . Buy the look of this room I would use 2 . To clean walls I use hot water a small amount of dish soap and about a 1/2 cup of vinegar in a mop pail size bucket . I would also check all the around the room base of the walls to make sure nothing is wet . If you are painting the wood walls then use a stain blockprimer after cleaning . I did this in the old farm house we just bought and there is no smell at all now . Wish you the best . I love the look of your home .
  • CK CK on Jan 21, 2015
    Hey I'm in North Dakota so understand your cold climate woes ;-) We too moved into a house in the winter. There are some great ideas posted by others to help rid the house of a musty smell. But here's what I've been doing years to get rid of the 'gamey-ness' that comes with long winter, closed up house smells: On a sunny day when it's not too cold (guess that's relative but for me I'd do this even if it was around 10 degrees) I would shut off the furnace for about 10 minutes and throw open several windows. This'll clean out the air quality really fast! Of course your mildew smell might coming from somewhere that requires more attention. But using this 'air freshner' in our cold climate does wonders :-)
  • Ruth wallace Ruth wallace on Jan 21, 2015
    I use Murphy's oil wood cleaner, it will clean and freshen .
  • Bonnie Bonnie on Jan 21, 2015
    Areas to check for mold/mildew: carpet padding, fireplace chimney, airducts, under sink and drain areas; do you have a basement? Once you have established there is not a major source for the odors, moving air will help. You can turn your thermostat fan to the "on" position to run the fan throughout the house. Using an air purifier/ionizer is the best way to go if it's in your budget. They are amazing machines. Our company uses them for removing smoke odors. To clean wood, a good rubdown with Liquid Gold will revive your walls. Then buff to a sheen with a dry, soft cloth.
  • Teena Mevec Teena Mevec on Jan 21, 2015
    Clean carpets, change all air filters, spray Odo Ban If you can't purchase at Sam's club you can purchase on Amazon. The original scent is the best and it doesn't mask the odor. It is environmentally safe. It is a mildew stat and odor killer. Good stuff. I have used for years cleaning apartments and I use in my Bissell Carpet cleaner when cleaning rugs, I use to kill that nasty smell towels get in the summer, I add it right to my wash. I have allergies and anything toxix or chemically smelling takes my breath away...this stuff is great.
  • Valerie Meador Valerie Meador on Jan 21, 2015
    I use Odor Ban for all my hard to rid odors. I learned of this when I worked in a nursing home I buy it at Home Depot and Sams You can add it to mop water , scrubbing water. washing clothes, etc many uses. Valerie from Texas
  • MBLori MBLori on Jan 21, 2015
    Damp rid is a kinda small product for such a big space. I'm concerned that damp means water....find the source...sniff around. Don't just mask it.