Will A Dehumidifier Get Rid Of Musty Smells?

You may have noticed a musty odor rush toward you when you step into the basement or return home after a few days away.

Because musty odors are common in humid environments and dehumidifiers are great at combating humidity issues, many people wonder if a dehumidifier can get rid of musty smells.

A dehumidifier can help with musty smells by inhibiting the growth of mold and bacteria and preventing them from lingering in the air. However, you have to address the root causes of musty smell if you want to get rid of it completely. 

In this post, we will start by analyzing the causes of musty smells and then discuss why a dehumidifier can help and how to remove them with a dehumidifier. A wealth of useful information is waiting to be discovered, so let’s get started!

Causes of  musty smell at home

causes of musty smell

The musty smell is often found in poor-ventilated and humid places. There are many things that contribute to the odor you inhale

Mold and mildew

Mold and mildew can produce components that have strong odors. These components will linger in the humid air and cling to furniture, appliances, and other surfaces once they enter the air.

If a place lacks ventilation, the odor can get even worse since these microorganisms will multiply rapidly in such an environment.

Mold and mildew are the main culprits behind musty smells in the house. Whenever you notice the musty smell, there is a high likelihood that these creatures are wreaking havoc nearby. 

Odor caused by pets

Your lovely friends may also be the source of musty odors. This is due to yeast overgrowth, which can cause ear problems and stinky skin.

Consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to have the yeast treated.

Cigarette and cigar smoke

If any of your family members smokes in the house, a musty odor may develop over time. Nicotine’s scent can cling to surfaces such as carpets and walls, causing the odor to linger for decades.

Why will a dehumidifier help with musty smells?

Mold, as previously stated, is the primary cause of musty odors. Because a dehumidifier can control mold growth, it can definitely help with musty odors.

Mold requires water to survive and thrive. Condensation forms on windows and other surfaces when the air is humid, providing water for mold to grow. Furthermore, some molds can directly absorb moisture from the air.

Running a dehumidifier can remove excess moisture from the air and reduce the likelihood of condensation, which means the mold will not proliferate as quickly as it did previously.

Meanwhile, the musty odor can linger in the humid air for longer. The smell will be less noticeable as the air is dried.

However, dehumidifiers can’t kill mold. After turning on a dehumidifier, the mold patches will not disappear on their own. Mold spores can go from active to dormant due to a lack of water, but they will not die and will begin to thrive once the machine is turned on.

To get rid of musty odors, you should address the underlying cause rather than the symptoms, which a dehumidifier can alleviate.

How to mitigate musty smells with a dehumidifier?

how to remove musty smell with dehumidifier

Even if you use a dehumidifier, it is possible that the musty odor will persist. The dehumidifier’s performance is affected by how you use it.

Pick a proper dehumidifier for your room

Dehumidifier capacity is an important metric you should keep an eye on. If the room is large or the climate is very humid, you should purchase a model that has a larger capacity.

Otherwise, the machine will keep running at maximum power, but the humidity level can’t reach the target you expect. When the moisture level can’t be reduced, the musty smell will not dissipate accordingly.

Find the right placement for your dehumidifier 

To get the most out of your dehumidifier, you should place it close to the humidity source. Basements and crawl spaces, for example, are the wettest places in many homes, with water seeping in through cracks in the walls.

In this case, you can place it near the walls but still ensure adequate airflow. It slows the spread of mold and effectively eliminates the musty odor.

Run your device continuously

After you turn off the dehumidifier for a while, the humidity will rise. To treat the musty odor, run it for one or two weeks and then run it on a regular basis to keep the mold and smell at bay.

Clean the air filter regularly

The air filter in the dehumidifier doesn’t aim at capturing mold spores or mildew spores. However, it can filter out the dust and dirt which can also contribute to the musty odor. Beyond that, clogged filter can cause the machine to freeze up, which can affect the performance further. 

Other ways to remove musty smells at home

To get rid of the musty smell, you should not only use a dehumidifier but also take other measures. 

Find the root cause and fix it

This is the most important thing to do when you want to deal with the musty smell. Otherwise, the moisture will keep adding to the room. The root causes are frequently leaking pipes or damaged insulation.

Increase the ventilation 

Ventilation is a method of bringing in fresh air while removing pollutants and odors from the air. If opening windows isn’t enough, consider installing some exhaust fans.

Use an air purifier 

Air purifiers can remove the airborne contaminants that can pose health risks to you. When there is less mold spores in the air, fewer odors will present in. 

Use cleanser to kill and remove the mold

To remove mold from walls or other surfaces, use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or another cleanser. If not, the mold will remain even if the air is dry.


Since a dehumidifier can remove the excess moisture and control the mold growth, it can help with musty smells in the room. However, as it can’t fix the root cause of extra moisture, it can’t get rid of musty odors completely. 

Fixing the root cause and running a dehumidifier at the same time can effectively remove the musty smell from your home.

About The Author

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Liz Yang is the founder of Airsmartly. She has been working at home for a few years and realizes that the performance of the HVAC system plays such an important role in our life. She has tested dozens of products in person, like humidifiers, air purifiers, dehumidifiers, and ACs, and wants to share tips about using or troubleshooting these products with you. Her uncle is an HVAC expert with over 30 years of experience in the field, and often offers assistance when she is unsure how to handle a situation. He is also in charge of reviewing the articles on this site.

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