7 Tips to Get Rid of Old Home Smell

7 Tips to Get Rid of Old Home Smell

Ever walked into a house and got hit by one distinct old house smell? You know the one that is a bit musty, stale, and definitely not what you’d describe as fresh and inviting.  Are you struggling to find ways how to get rid of old home smells? Well, it is not much of a work to get rid of the old house odors.

Old house odors can put a damper on a housewarming party or even make it hard to relax and enjoy your own home. But fear not! These smells are not permanent and when you get rid of it’s root causes, you’ll be able to give a complete olfactory reset to your house.

So, whether you’re a new homeowner dealing with lingering odors from previous occupants or you’ve been living in your house for years and the smell just seems to stick around then this guide is for you.  Get ready to say goodbye to musty smells and hello to a fresh and inviting home!

What Causes Old Home Smell?

There can be many causes of why your house is smelling stale and old. Even if you take good care of your home after a certain period of time it will smell and anyone can tell that it is old. The smell will not only make your house unwelcoming but also it will become a house to diseases. To get rid of these smells you need to figure out the root cause and some common causes are,

  • Stagnant Air
  • Trapped Moisture
  • Occupant Habits
  • Dirt Accumulation
  • Appliances

These are the most common reasons why your house must be smelling old. Many people like to stay indoors and keep the windows closed with closed curtains and this results in stagnant air. The stagnant air traps the odor and seeps into the walls and flooring which causes the odor. That is why our elders advise us to open the windows and let the air in.

Also while cleaning the ceiling and walls make sure your ventilation airways are not clogged with dust accumulation. Also, air is not the only reason; moisture is another hiccup that can cause moist stench. Wood can trap moisture and every house has a lot of wood thus moisture can not only damage your house but also cause a bad stench and can scare away your guests.

Moisture can be caused by leaking pipes, condensation, rainwater accumulation, etc. These can be fixed but what about the odor of legacy? Most of the time the stench is a result of long-term habitat in the house. Smoke from cigarettes, pet dander, or even strong cooking smells can cling to carpets, furniture, and walls, creating an unpleasant old-house smell.

An untidy house is also a big issue when it comes to removing odors from an old house. Long-term accumulation of dust and debris within carpets, upholstery, and even your HVAC system can harbor some strong smell. Also, don’t forget that even appliances have a strong smell and with continuous usage it releases more odor.

Refrigerators that haven’t been cleaned regularly can develop a funky smell.  Dirty trash compactors can also contribute to unpleasant odors wafting through your home. Though these all are an integral part of your home so you don’t have to eliminate them we are going to solve these issues with some effective tips.

Top 7 Effective Tips to Eliminate Old Home Smell

We’ve identified the enemies lurking behind that pesky old house smell. Now all we need to do is to eliminate them with the following effective tips. These tips ensure that you house regains it’s welcoming environment and a space of relaxation without any diseases.

1. Ventilation is Key

Who doesn’t want to breathe fresh air the same goes for your house. You need to help your house breathe by letting in fresh air and sunlight. How? Follow through,

  • Open those windows: Throw open the windows and doors whenever possible that too on sunny days. This creates cross-ventilation which allows stale air to escape and fresh air to circulate.
  • Embrace the sunshine: Sunlight is a natural disinfectant. Open your curtains and let the sunshine in. UV rays can help kill bacteria and eliminate lingering odors.
  • Think fans: Ceiling fans can help circulate air within your home, particularly in areas with poor natural ventilation.

2. Remove the Dirt and Dust

Dirt, dust, and grime are like tiny odor magnets that trap unwanted smells. Regular cleaning and deep cleaning are the ways to tackle this issue. Here’s your deep-clean checklist,

  • Deep clean your carpets with a professional carpet cleaner or rent a powerful steam cleaner. Sprinkle baking soda on carpets before cleaning to absorb lingering odors.
  • Upholstery can trap dust and odors too. Vacuum furniture thoroughly, paying attention to crevices and cushions. Consider professional cleaning for heavily soiled furniture.
  • Walls can harbor dust and even absorb odors over time. Wipe down walls with a damp cloth and a solution of mild detergent and water.
  • Don’t neglect areas like baseboards, vents, and behind appliances. These hidden spots can be prime real estate for dust and grime buildup, contributing to old house smell.

3. Use Baking Soda

Baking soda is a common household item that is used by every mother to get rid of pungent smells. It is a common product that can be found in most of the households.

  • Sprinkle baking soda on carpets before vacuuming. Leave it for 30 minutes to absorb odors, then vacuum thoroughly.
  • Place an open box of baking soda in your refrigerator to neutralize food odors. Replace it every few months.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on upholstery, leave it for 30 minutes, then vacuum it up. This can help remove pet dander and other allergens along with odors.

4. Disinfection with White Vinegar

White vinegar is a natural disinfectant and deodorizer is a popular household tool. Vinegar has antibacterial properties that’s why it is mostly used in household sanitizers. 

  • Clean countertops, cabinets, and appliances with a solution of white vinegar and water. This disinfects surfaces and cuts through grease while leaving a fresh scent.
  • Use white vinegar diluted with water to tackle grime in your bathroom. It’s effective on shower doors, sinks, and toilets, leaving them sparkling clean and odor-free.
  • For stubborn odors, place bowls filled with white vinegar in problem areas like musty closets or near trash cans. The vinegar will absorb the odors naturally.

5. HVAC Cleaning

Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system plays a crucial role in air quality. It is a major ventilation system and its filter accumulates dirt and dust which traps odor-causing bacteria. Here’s how to keep it clean, 

  • Replace your air filters regularly according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Clogged filters trap dust and allergens, which can recirculate throughout your home, contributing to old house smell.
  • Dust and debris can accumulate in your air vents. Have your air ducts professionally cleaned to remove built-up dust and improve airflow.

6. Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a highly porous material that traps odors. Here’s how to use it,

  • Place bowls filled with activated charcoal in odor-prone areas like bathrooms, pet areas, or near trash cans. The charcoal will absorb unpleasant smells.
  • Consider using activated charcoal pouches that you can hang in closets, cars, or even your refrigerator to combat lingering odors.

7. Natural Odor Eliminators

Natural essential oils can provide a pleasant fragrance while helping to eliminate odors. You can use diffusers and room fresheners with essential oils to keep your space clean and fresh. For a natural air freshener, simmer a pot of water with sliced lemons, oranges, or grapefruits on the stovetop. The citrus scent will help neutralize unwanted odors.

**When using essential oils, always dilute them with a carrier oil like jojoba or almond oil before applying them topically or diffusing them.

Pro Tip: Address Musty Smells On Priority

Musty smells should be treated separately because they can actually harm your health. Musty smells need to be addressed on high priority because they are caused by odor-causing bacteria. Most of the time molds also cause musty smells and if these odors are inhaled it can severely harm the health of yourself and your loved ones. 

  • Check for leaky pipes, faulty faucets, or condensation on windows. Address any moisture issues promptly to prevent mold and mildew growth.
  • If you find mold or mildew, don’t ignore it! Use appropriate cleaning solutions or seek professional help for safe removal. Mold and mildew can pose health risks, so it’s important to handle them properly.
  • Invest in a dehumidifier to control moisture levels in your home. This can help prevent musty odors from returning, especially in humid climates.

Prevention is Key

Maintaining a fresh-smelling home is crucial for creating an inviting and comfortable living environment. Prevention is the most effective way to ensure that your home remains free from unpleasant odors. 

Regular maintenance is essential to prevent the buildup of odors in your home. By staying proactive, you can avoid the challenges of removing odors from an old house later. Here are some practical steps to maintain a fresh-smelling home:

Regular Cleaning

  • Dust and vacuum your home regularly. Dust accumulates quickly and can trap unpleasant smells. Pay special attention to carpets, upholstery, and curtains, as these can harbor dust and allergens.
  • Clean hard surfaces with a damp cloth to remove dust and dirt.
  • Schedule deep cleaning sessions for carpets, rugs, and upholstery. Professional cleaning can be particularly effective in how to get rid of old house odors.

**Don’t forget hidden areas like baseboards, behind appliances, and air vents.

Air Quality Management

  • Ensure your home is well-ventilated. Open windows and doors regularly to let fresh air circulate.
  • Use ceiling fans to enhance air circulation, especially in areas with poor natural ventilation.
  • Change air filters in your HVAC system regularly. Clean filters improve air quality and help in how to make an old house smell better by reducing the recirculation of dust and allergens.

Moisture Control

  • Moisture is a major cause of musty odors. Fix any leaks promptly and ensure proper drainage around your home.
  • Use a dehumidifier in damp areas like basements to control humidity levels.
  • Regularly check for signs of mold and mildew. If found, clean with appropriate solutions or seek professional help. Mold can pose serious health risks.

Household Tips

  • Keep refrigerators, trash compactors, and other appliances clean. Regular cleaning prevents the buildup of food particles and grime that can cause odors.
  • Use natural odor absorbers like baking soda and activated charcoal. Place them in strategic areas like the refrigerator, closets, and near trash cans to neutralize odors.
  • Utilize essential oils for a pleasant fragrance. Diffuse essential oils like lavender or lemon for a natural and fresh scent.

Consistent Effort Pays Off

Maintaining a fresh-smelling home requires consistent effort, but the rewards are well worth it. By following these simple steps you can ensure that your home remains inviting and pleasant.

  • Regular dusting and vacuuming.
  • Changing air filters to maintain HVAC system performance.
  • Keeping trash cans clean and emptied regularly.


Eliminating old home smell and keeping your house fresh is entirely possible with consistent effort. By understanding how to get rid of old home smell and applying the tips shared, you can ensure a welcoming environment. Regular cleaning, proper ventilation, and moisture control are key. 

These steps help in removing odors from an old house and making your space inviting. Remember, knowing how to get rid of old house odors and how to make an old house smell better involves ongoing maintenance. Implement these strategies, and enjoy a fresh, pleasant home every day. Share your tips and success stories in the comments!


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