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How to Get Rid of Old House Smell – 12 Easy Methods

couple in a smelly house

We’ve all been there: You walk into a home, and a certain smell overwhelms your nose. It’s not necessarily pungent or rancid; it’s just old. But if it’s your job to get rid of that smell, it can be frustrating to deal with.

The good news is that with these 12 tips and tricks, you can get rid of that old house smell, no matter what’s causing it.

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The 12 Simple Ways to Get Rid of Old House Smell

1. Find the Cause

The fellow looking under the bed
Photo Credit: WeAre, Shutterstock
Effectiveness: High
Difficulty: Challenging

While this is the most challenging part of getting rid of old house smell, it’s also the most important. It doesn’t matter what you do if you’re addressing the wrong area or don’t fix the cause of the problem.

Look for areas where moisture can work its way into the home, and check the carpets, walls, furniture, etc. Follow your nose, and you should be able to find the cause of the old house smell!

2. Lower the Humidity

humidifier near armchair
Photo Credit: Pixel Shot, Shutterstock
Effectiveness: High
Difficulty: Moderate

Excessive humidity makes everything smell damp, and before long, that damp smell will start to make your home smell old. Older homes hold moisture incredibly well, so you might need to invest in a dehumidifier or something similar to drop the humidity level in the house.

But even with a dehumidifier, you should still try to find and address the root cause of the higher humidity levels if you can.

3. Air It Out

woman standing by window and opening curtains
Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock
Effectiveness: Moderate
Difficulty: Easy

If the smell doesn’t have anywhere to go, you can’t expect it to get any better! Open up the windows, get a few fans going, and get that smell out of the house! This is especially true if you already found the cause of the smell and rectified it. Once you push the smell out of your home, it won’t come back.

4. Bring in the Light

Opening curtains in the morning enjoying sunlight
Image Credit: Fizkes, Shutterstock
Effectiveness: Moderate
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

Sometimes all you need to do to kill off the bad bacteria creating a bad smell is a bit of sunlight. Artificial light is far less effective at this, and sometimes it’s not effective at all.

Open up the windows to let in natural light. Sometimes this is easy, but other times, the home doesn’t allow natural light to reach certain areas.

5. Eliminate Mold

spraying molds on the wall
Image Credit: Dmitriy Utlanov, Shutterstock
Effectiveness: High
Difficulty: Challenging

If you find mold in your home, you need to treat the entire affected area right away. The mold will not only create an unpleasant smell but also plenty of health issues.

Treat all the mold the first time and the root cause; otherwise, it’ll just come back and spread, and you’ll have a reoccurring issue.

6. Clean the Furniture

Cleaner Vacuuming a Sofa Chair
Image Credit: Jesus Arias, Pexels
Effectiveness: Moderate
Difficulty: Moderate

Sometimes the old house smell coming from your home isn’t from the home itself but from the furniture inside. Getting smells out of upholstered furniture can be a challenge, but it’s possible with enough time, effort, and tools.

7. Eliminate Leaks

close-up of water leaking from the white sink pipe
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock
Effectiveness: High
Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging

If your home has a leak somewhere, it’ll create damp conditions, which will create a damp smell and even lead to mold growth. If you know about any leaks in your home or with the plumbing, it’s likely the cause of the old house smell. Fix the leaks and air it out, and the problem should go away.

8. Clean the Carpets

female worker cleaning carpet
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock
Effectiveness: Moderate
Difficulty: Moderate

Old smells seep into things, and a porous carpet is the perfect place for those smells to settle in. If the carpets in the home have an old house smell, you don’t need to rush out and replace them, but you should invest in a high-quality steam cleaning.

The sooner you complete the cleaning, the more likely you’ll be able to get the smell out with the first treatment.

9. Wash the Walls and Ceiling

Wall Cleaning
Image Credit: Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels
Effectiveness: Low
Difficulty: Low

Old house smell can seep right into the walls and ceilings around you. Start scrubbing the walls, but keep the material of the wall in mind when cleaning. A small amount of water on drywall is fine, but too much can ruin it.

10. Change Air Filters and Clean Vents

Replacing the filter in the central ventilation system
Image Credit: VidEst, Shutterstock
Effectiveness: Moderate
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate

When was the last time that you checked the air filter and cleaned out the vents in your home? If it’s been a while, that might be where the old house smell is coming from. If there’s a good amount of dirt or debris on the filter or in the vents, the HVAC system is cycling it throughout the house.

This pushes the unpleasant scent into every room, and it can even lead to health problems.

11. Use an Odor Neutralizer

Woman spraying air freshener at home
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock
Effectiveness: Moderate
Difficulty: Easy

Sometimes the best thing that you can do is get an odor neutralizer. Look for something that actively eliminates odors instead of just covering them up.

While it won’t help for too long if you don’t address the cause of the problem, it can help you eliminate the smell for good afterward.

12. Clean the HVAC System Itself

HVAC System Cleaning
Image Credit: Chad Robertson Media, Shutterstock
Effectiveness: Moderate
Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging

The inside of your home’s HVAC system has many different components. Over time, there will be dirt, debris, and moisture build-up, and the HVAC system will push that throughout the home with warm or cold air.

Cleaning the HVAC system isn’t quite as easy as swapping out the filter or cleaning the vents, but it’s just as important.

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Nobody wants to deal with an old house smell, and if it’s inside your home, any potential guests won’t want to deal with it either. But now that you know a few different ways that you can remove that smell from your home, all that’s left is for you to put in the necessary work to get rid of it for good!

See Also: How to Make Your Room Smell Good Naturally (26 Easy Methods)

Featured Image Credit:, Shutterstock


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