How to Get Rid of Old House Smell in 5 Simple Steps

With vintage styles making a comeback in home interiors in 2022, older homes are more appealing than ever to buyers looking for unique features. One prominent feature of older homes that will never become a trend is the ever-present and all too common old house smell. If a musty stench has potential buyers wrinkling their noses when they step through the door then you need to know how to get rid of that old house smell and fast.

What Causes Old House Smell?

What Causes Old House Smell?

Older homes have older duct work which often means less ventilation than new homes built today. Combine that fact with many older homes having smaller and less windows and you have less sunshine in the home as well. When you take in account less ventilation leading to higher humidity problems and darker rooms then you have the perfect scenario for mold to make its way into your home.

When you’re smelling old house smell what you may be smelling isn’t necessarily a visible mold problem but the presence of MVOC’s in your air or on furniture and walls. MVOC’s are Mold Volatile Organic Compounds, chemicals that play a part in the mold life cycle that can thankfully evaporate, but, when present in large enough amounts, make your house smell musty and old.

Other factors that can contribute to your home smelling old are indoor pets and lingering tobacco smoke. If you have had pets and smoke in an older home then the old house smell is compounded, but thankfully there are steps you can take to clear the air.

Remove Old House Smell With Fresh Air

If your home tends towards humidity then helping bring in fresh air with a dehumidifier will help. Removing excess moisture from the air will help to dry things out and help clear out any mold chemicals that contribute to smells.

Humidity tends to linger in moisture-loving places like bathrooms, basements and crawl spaces so don’t forget those spots when positioning a dehumidifier. Allow plenty of airflow around all sides of the machine so it can do its job properly and help dry up the air.

Here in Utah we don’t have to worry about much humidity outdoors so open those windows and air out the house, letting in as much fresh air as possible. Check your faucets and home for any potential water leaks. Even the smallest leak can build up humidity and lead to musty smells in your home, so getting to the root of the problem will help clear the old house smell the fastest.

Remove Old House Smell With Sunshine

A lady opening window curtains to let sunshine in

Sunshine is such a powerful cleanser that it’s used in water disinfecting systems in homes and pools and it can do the same work on cleansing your home. Throw open the blinds and let the sunshine and it’s UV rays do its disinfecting work on your old house.

Remove Old House Smell in your Ducts

Did you know that mold can actually grow in your air ducts and furnace? That’s a terrifying thought and can lead to a musty smell circulating through your home. If you suspect that you have a dirty HVAC system then consider calling in the professionals to do a deep duct and system clean, removing any potential mold in those hard-to-access areas.

Remove Old House Smell in Furniture

Remove Old House Smell in Furniture: Taking old couch outside in the sun.

Unfortunately your furniture could be contributing to your old house smell issues. A couch and any upholstered furniture can be trapping in moisture and putting out musty smells. Reducing the humidity in your home will help address the problem, but professionally deep cleaning your furniture will be needed to address any mold problems that you can’t visibly see.

Putting your furniture outside in the sun while you air out the house is also a good step in disinfecting your musty couch.

Remove Old House Smell from your Walls

Don’t forget to give your walls a good cleaning when tackling old house smells. To get a disinfected clean finish in your home then use a strong cleanser on the walls and baseboards of your home. Search for a good homemade cleanser or pick up a disinfecting brand at the store. Mold chemicals can live on wall surfaces so attack the smell by cleaning the walls before listing your home.

Remove Old House Smell with Neutralizers

Using neutralizers to address smelly problems

If you’ve taken all these steps and you want to keep the stink away then use neutralizers to continue to address any smelly problems that come up. Leaving an absorber in an open container throughout your house can help absorb any smells. Neutralizers include baking soda, white vinegar and even cat litter. Dryer sheets in cabinets and closets can also help with any issues.

For a stronger response you can purchase bags of activated charcoal or other neutralizers that can be found in the cleaning section of your nearest store.

Old House Smell Still Causing Problems?

All this effort and still have a stink? Worried that some sunshine and fresh air won’t tackle the old house smell? If you have an underlying mold issue that keeps your house smelling musty then it can be hard to sell. Buyers are not usually willing to take a chance on a moldy property since mold poses so many potential problems for health and home.

Gary with Gary Buys Houses isn’t worried about your musty smell, he is willing to buy houses as-is, no expensive mold remediation, lengthy cleanup or chemicals needed on your end. If you have an old house that has that old house smell and you lack the time and funds or energy to deal with the problem then contact Gary today. He’ll give you an honest cash-offer quote on your home so you can sell without all the hassle.


I was a part owner in an electrical contracting firm in the late 1990’s and started to get interested in real estate around 2001. My business partner and I bought our first rental property in 2002. From there we did several real estate transactions until we decided to close the electrical business and part ways. In 2009 I started Gary Buys Houses which is owned by my wife, Eileen, and I. I felt like I could offer one on one personal service to people that wanted to sell their house quickly or not worry about repairs and such. Today, I have built a reputation of being fair and honest with people no matter their situation, so the business continues to help people and be successful. I have been married for 34 years, and have one son, two step sons and 4 grandchildren. I like to travel and spend time in Southern Utah exploring.

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