Posted on: January 27, 2009 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 3

Mildew odor is usually associated with basements or long-unopened cabinets, but they are not limited to those places-they can be anywhere, and cause those unwanted odors to come wafting in. Why? Because mildew odors come from mildew or mold growth, which love growing anywhere that is dark and moist enough to have them.

Mildew odor does not just indicate mildew growth: It may also mean that a serious cleaning is needed. Don’t forget that mildew can trigger allergies and make you or your kids very sick. Get to the bottom of mildew growth and eliminate them and their accompanying mildew odor completely using these tips.

Closed Areas

Closets and storage areas are one of the places you’re likely to encounter mildew odor. The lack of air circulation, sun exposure and trapped moisture makes it a heaven for mildew growth.

The solution? Open up everything you can and clear everything out! Mildew has likely landed on everything stocked inside the closed area and flourishing since. Get rid or donate the things that you no longer need. Wash and clean the items that can be cleaned, and have them aerated and sun-dried for two days.

Use a wash made from a quarter bleach to the amount of water you’re using with a few drops of ordinary detergent to help wash off. Use a scrub to scrub the closed area’s floor and walls. Pay particular attention to the corners. Let it stand for five minutes and give a rinse of cold water to get rid of the bleach entirely. Dry with a clean rag and let it completely air-dry by keeping the doors or windows open, or by training a fan directly inside the closed area.

You can put charcoal briquettes or a box of baking in the closed area after you’re done to absorb any other smell that will arise in the future. Installing a dehumidifier or an electric air vent fan will discourage moisture from collecting in that area and encourage the air to move around. As a final touch, use an air freshener spray or Fabreeze to bring back a fresh smell in to the closed area that previously smelled like mildew. You can also use small gel packs that absorb moisture in these closed areas.


You may run into mildew odors with clothes that have been stored away for a long period of time. Here’s what you do with them: Hang them out to dry outdoors all day and bring them back in. Wash your clothes as you normally would, although using detergent products aimed for mildewy clothes will help a lot. Hang them out to dry in the sun again.

Delicate clothing or fabric that’s been stored away shouldn’t just be thrown in the laundry. Having these delicate fabric cleaned by a professional is still the best way to go.

After laundering your clothes, pack them back in new boxes with dryer sheets in between the folded clothes. Replacing these dryer sheets regularly will keep the fabrics fresh and dry and discourage mildew from popping up again.

Air Ducts

Air ducts are also prone to having mildew because of moisture getting trapped and the lack of exposure to light. Having a forced air heating and cooling system can also encourage mildew to grow aggressively. If you have a mildew smell all around the house with seemingly no source, your air ducts may be a culprit. Having molds or mildew can cause allergy and asthma attacks, so have them checked.

Cleaning out air ducts are best left to the professionals. Make sure you hire a reputable company to do the work for you. Check their reputation online and ask for references if you can.


Roofs bear the brunt of the force of nature, and mildew growth are one of the problems that may arise following this fact. Mildew on your rooftops and shingles can make your roof look dirty and even shorten the lifespan of your roof. Not only that, but a heavy mildew growth may cause mildew odor to gradually seep inside your house.

To get rid of mildew, you should first spray the plants immediately surrounding your area with water to prevent damage from the cleaning products you are about to use. Get a hand spray and fill a fourth of bleach and the rest with water. Directly spray the solution on the mildew. Let it sit for 15 minutes and hose it off with water. Be very careful when working on the roof, as wet mildew can get very slippery.

Another way to clean mildew off your roof is to use copper sulfate solution. Spray your plants again with water for protection. Mix copper sulfate to water in the ratio of 12 dry ounces to a gallon of water. Apply the solution directly on the mildew and once it’s dried and turned brown, brush or scrub off. Rinse with clean water.

Once you’ve gotten rid of the mildew from your rooftop, it’s time for some preventive measures. First, get rid of the overhanging tree branches or debris that may have collected on your rooftop, which encourage mildew to grow. Second, you gave the option to install zinc strips under the shingles in the edge of your rooftop to discourage mildew growth. Third, you can install asphalt roofing shingles with a copper additive that when mixed with rainwater actually prevents the growth of mildew. Lastly, you can also buy commercial products that you can simply spray on your roof once a year to prevent mildew growth.

Carpets and Floors

Carpets that have not been cleaned properly can lead to moisture being trapped inside the carpets, which can result in mildew. Short of taking them to cleaners, here’s something you can do yourself. It can also be effective for mildew growing under your wallpapers.

Make a bleach solution made from one part bleach to ten parts water for mild mildew growth or one part bleach to four parts water for more intense mildew growth. Use tap water to wash down your walls or the carpet. Get a hot water carpet cleaner and put the bleach solution in the reservoir, adding a few drops of liquid dish soap. Let it stand for 15 minutes and rinse again using mop boards. Dry with clean rags, and let dry, either by hanging the carpets out, or in the case of wallpaper, open up windows and doors to let the air in. Use a fan to accelerate the drying process.

If your wallpaper is found in a closed area, using a dehumidifier will help prevent mildew from coming back.

In some cases of mildew growing in carpets, there’s a likelihood that the mildew has progressed into your floor again. You can try the same approach you did with your carpet, or use a latex seal to seal the mildew and the mildew odor out completely.

Sink Drain

Sink drains are also one of the spots where mildew can grow in abundance. The collection of scum and bacteria can also encourage further mildew growth, and make the odor worse. Simply pour down some baking soda (with the help of a funnel) down the drain, followed by white vinegar. The mixture should foam and kill the mildew. Leave on overnight and rinse away by pouring hot water down the drain. Commercial drain cleaners are also effective in getting rid of that mildew smell.

To prevent mildew from building up in your sink drains, try to use the drains as often as possible.

Couches and Mattresses

Couches and mattresses can be notoriously stubborn when it comes to mildew smells. If you’re really bent on using them instead of buying a new one, what you can do is have them sun-dried for a whole week. Use a carpet beater to get out as much of the dirt as you can

Next, try using Fabreeze Anti-Mildew, OxyClean or bleach and then rub them on the upholstery using a dryer sheet. Enzyme cleaning products can also help. However, keep in mind that if the mildew has seeped into the mattress or couches completely, there’s nothing much you can do about it but to re-upholster. Mildew and mold can be toxic when inhaled, so finding alternatives for couches such as blankets and big pillows, or mattresses will probably be the best.

Getting rid of mildew may prove a bit difficult, but not impossible. When the homemade solutions don’t work, there are many commercial products that specifically target mildew and mildew smell. Getting rid of mildew smell won’t just leave your house smell cleaner, but it will be good for your health as well. Good luck. If you enjoyed this article might as well read how to get rid mildew.

3 People reacted on this

  1. Child has pair of Justin Gypsy Boots. They are mildewed, can’t see it, but can smell it. What can I do. We have tried febreze and other stuff. It smells from the outside of the boot.

  2. Try Baking Soda: To Helen sprinkle Baking Soda inside boots shake it to the toes and then add as needed to rest of insole, repeat a couple of days in a row this may help since B Soda is a PH neutralizing product. Don’t forget the inside tops of the toe and bridge of foot area of the boot…when done if you can fit a dryer sheet into each boot while wearing you may find a significant improvement. Repeat as needed…feet are the one best friend we all have that can be stinkers (literaly & figuratively!)
    To Sharon, admittedly I’m not familiar with a Gypsy Boot, but if it’s a rather non-porous material (rubber, leather etc) and since you’re certain the smell is external, I’d first wash the outside of the boot with white vinegar, let it attack the mildew itself, then wipe dry. Follow this by making a paste of Baking soda & water (3parts soda to 1 part water) scrub with a damp sponge or soft damp cloth and finally I’d coat the boot with any product that would protect it down the road whether silicone shoe spray, good shoe/boot polish or if push comes to shove petroleum jelly can do in a pinch.
    Hope this helps ladies.

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