How to Eliminate Musty Smells from Your New Apartment

Sometimes, landlords leave an apartment vacant for months before finally finding a tenant. Neglect over time can lead to an unpleasant, stale odor plaguing your newly leased apartment space. Here’s some advice for eradicating that musty stench in your new apartment.


Look at your apartment layout and narrow down the possibilities of where odors could be coming from and why. Check for places in your apartment that you know are high in humidity and low in ventilation.

When it comes to mold and mildew, the bathroom and the kitchen are our usual prime suspects. These are the two locations that readily supply moisture, oxygen, darkness, and warmth. Mold spores need all of this, plus time undisturbed, to grow and spread, making even short-term vacancy the perfect condition for mold growth.


Check the soil of potted plants by lifting them out of the pot. Overwatering can lead to mold growth that can kill your plants and your nose. 

In the bathroom, check corners and the ceiling above the bathtub or shower. Tile grout and bathroom walls are highly susceptible to mold due to constant water exposure. Look thoroughly behind the sink and underneath. Check any cabinets or shelving in the wet area, as composite wood furniture is vulnerable to water damage and warping where mold spores can grow. Be sure to check the toilet while you’re at it.

In the kitchen, check underneath and behind the refrigerator if you can. Food can drop behind or beneath the fridge and spoil, then begin to grow mold. Remove and clean your shelves and bins with a food-safe natural cleaner and leave an open baking soda box inside as an odor absorber. Check around and behind the trash for the same reason. Also, don’t forget the sink.

Our sense of smell isn’t always the best compass for finding mold or mildew, but it is reliable to some extent. Carefully look for brown, white, black, or green discoloration while you search with your nose for the best results.


You can use bleach to kill and remove mildew, but that strong of a cleaning chemical is not usually necessary. If you choose to use bleach, ensure adequate ventilation in your apartment. A fan or an open window is needed when cleaning mold and mildew to prevent breathing in spores or dangerous fumes. Protective equipment like rubber gloves and a face mask can save lives and seriously reduce the gross-out factor when dealing with mildew.

If you’re not fond of bleach or other chemical cleaning agents, you can use distilled white vinegar as an alternative. Fill a spray bottle with vinegar, spray it over the mildewed surface, and thoroughly saturate the discolored area. Let the vinegar have a few hours to do its job, give it a final spray when you’re ready, then wipe the area clean with a hot, wet sponge. For more dire cases, you may have to run this process twice. Afterward, try adding a tablespoon of your favorite essential oil to your eco-friendly cleaning solution as a natural mold spore deterrent.

If you have a respiratory condition, other health concerns, or your issues with mold and mildew are too drastic to take on alone, seek the assistance of a mold removal specialist.

Do you have any secrets for dealing with mold or mildew? Share your tips in the comments!

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