How to Get Rid of the Musty Damp Smell

We are easily distracted at work. It may be a simple phone buzz, a drop of a pen, or a feeling of hunger. Distractions are annoying and they reduce productivity which may affect your profit. 

One of the strongest office distractions is odor. Not only it diverts your attention, it can also make you and your employees sick. Staying in a room enveloped with foul odor is not only unpleasant, but it can actually give a person physical symptoms such as headaches and even nausea. 

Odors can come from anything – from an overnight trash to a simple lunch of a coworker. Some smells are even difficult to identify like a musty smell. 

It is important to understand that musty smells are usually from both mold and mildew in the warm and wet area in the office. However, you should know the difference between both to know the exact cause of the smell. 

Mildew is a thin layer of fungi from fruits, vegetables, and plants. Mold, on the other hand, is thicker and penetrates deeper than mildew. If left untreated, it can cause damage as it can infest anything including books, clothes, and drywall.   

Once you determine the areas where mold and mildew is present, you can try using the following methods we compiled to deal with office smells. 

Removal of Damp and Infested Materials

Materials that are contaminated with mold and mildew should be thoroughly cleaned, and at worst cases, thrown away completely. 

There may also be cases where you will be needing professional treatment,  especially if it involves permanent fixtures or important objects that you could not simply discard. 

Address the Source of Moisture

Search for the source of moisture. It could be anything – from poor insulation, to leaking pipes and bad seals. 

In case of leaky pipes, immediately call for a plumber. These leaky pipes should be fixed as soon as possible. The same solution applies to areas where insulation could be improved. 

In case of clogged gutters, have cleaners clean them. It is important to keep clean as possible so it is best if you assign personnel to take charge of maintaining the cleanliness of your gutters. You may hire professional cleaning service providers to provide regular inspection and maintenance. 

If you think you can do the cleaning yourself (applicable for small offices), a good method is to mix one part of boric acid, two parts of white vinegar, and two parts of hydrogen peroxide. Dilute everything in four parts water. This will serve as an effective gutter cleaning solution. 

Improve Ventilation

Having good ventilation could help prevent build up of mold and mildew. 

Ventilating all the rooms and areas in your building on a regular basis could greatly reduce musty smells. It will also discourage the development of mold and mildew.

Open Compartments

Occasionally opening of cupboards and drawers is a good idea. It will ventilate and air them, preventing the development of mold and mildew. It will also allow you to thoroughly inspect them and address issues immediately before it develops into something big. 

From time to time, it is ideal to clean the inside of cupboards, drawers, and other compartments with warm soapy water, or by using vinegar and water. 

If it comes to a point where the smell is too strong, it is best to leave a bowl full of vinegar inside compartments overnight. This move will help neutralize the musty smell effectively. 


While bleach may be known as a regular pantry cleaner, it is an effective cleaning solution for mold and mildew. 

Bleach could clean the mold and mildew build up and also help you remove the nasty musty odor. 

You could use bleach to clean any surfaces which are exposed to dampness and condensation. Wipe it on a regular schedule with the water and bleach cleaning solution. 


Getting an office dehumidifier is a great idea if your workplace is regularly infested with mold and mildew. 

A dehumidifier will help in reduction of condensation levels in your area. It absorbs moisture and decreases humidity levels in the air, while killing mold and other microorganisms that grow, live, and thrive on moisture. 

Air Purifier

Aside from getting a dehumidifier, you may also consider having an air purifier. 

Air purifiers help in the circulation of air through a filtration system, trapping any air-born pollutants. This will result in a reduction of the musty smell in the workplace, and freshen the air greatly. 


Lemons have a pleasant smell that is loved by many. Not only that, lemons are powerful and great in reducing musty room odors. 

To use lemons to freshen up the air, you can boil them with their rinds and leave the mixture in containers. Leave a container in different rooms and areas where you think you need a deodorizer. 

Once the mixture cools down, the fragrance will lose some of its effectiveness. However, you can still use the liquid to spray on different surfaces or areas that are a little smelly. 

Soft Furnishing and Carpets 

Musty odors are common in soft furnishings, rugs and carpets especially if they are placed in a damp environment for a long period of time. An effective solution for this is to use bicarbonate of soda. Sprinkle some bicarbonate of soda before you vacuum soft furnishings, rugs, and carpets. 

In cases where your furniture is reeking of nasty odor, it is best for you to discard them. 

Smell Absorber 

An old and simple solution for musty smells is to place a jar filled with charcoal on the musty area. Leave it overnight and it will be able to absorb the musty smell. 

The stronger the smell, the more often you should repeat this method.  

You may also use cat little or ground coffee if the smell is not too strong. 


Musty smells could be a big disturbance in a workplace, especially if left unattended for a long time. There are many ways of how you can get rid of the musty smells, but first you need to determine its source. Once you know the origin, may it be trash, leftover food, mold, or mildew there is a solution for your problem. 

Removing may be too much of a hassle. For this, you may hire a professional cleaning service provider. They have trained professionals who will supervise and maintain the cleanliness of your place leaving it safe, clean, and a healthy workplace. 

Need some help with cleaning? Contact us.