How to get rid of mildew smell from the bathroom

Are you dealing with mildew smell in your bathroom? Due to high moisture content, bathrooms are one of the top places affected by mold and mildew.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t make the musty smell easier to stomach. It can be pretty uncomfortable, not to mention embarrassing when hosting.

So, how can you remove the mildew smell from your bathroom? Like with any other foul odor, there are many solutions for getting rid of the musty smell.

They include regular household cleaners, commercial odor removers, natural odor eliminators, and air purifiers. Here’s a detailed look at various solutions for getting rid of the mildew smell in your bathroom.

What causes mildew smell in the bathroom?

Before looking at how to get rid of mildew smell, it is essential to understand its causes. After all, looking closely at the source is a good idea when it comes to eliminating the foul odors.

Mildew smell comes from the growth of mold and mildew in your bathroom. There are several factors that make your bathroom a favorable environment for the growth of mold and mildew. They include:

  • High levels of moisture and humidity
  • Poor air circulation
  • Dark environment

In the bathroom, mold and mildew commonly grow in areas such as under the sink, around exhaust fans, and on doors leading to shower and bath fixtures. Other areas include wooden surfaces, wallpaper, fabrics, and carpets, among others.

However, it is also possible for mold and mildew to grow in hidden spaces that are pretty hard to find. This explains why you can smell mold in the bathroom but can’t see it sometimes. Some of the hidden spaces where mold grows include inside the walls, wooden surfaces, and floors.

It is also possible that the musty smell could be coming from the bathroom drains. These drains contain trapped water that provides a conducive environment for mold and mildew growth. This is why sometimes a bathroom smells musty if it stays unused for some time.

bathroom drain
Image: Facebook/CharbonnierPlumbing

Mold and mildew could also be growing in other rooms, with the musty smell ending up in your bathroom due to airborne spores. Examples include basements under your bathroom or nearby rooms with high amounts of humidity.

To eliminate the musty smell in your bathroom, you must find and eradicate the source. This is the growing mold and mildew.

How to get rid of mildew odor in your bathroom

These are some of the top methods for eliminating the musty smell in your bathroom.

1. Thoroughly clean your bathroom

One of the simplest ways to get rid of mildew smell is to clean your bathroom. As simple as that!

Start by identifying areas where mold is growing, then proceed to the cleaning process. A simple cleaning solution made up of one cup of bleach mixed into a gallon of water will do the job.

Spray the bleach solution to the moldy surfaces and give it a few minutes to set in. Scrub the surfaces with a brush (hard surfaces) or a sponge/cloth (soft, delicate surfaces). Afterward, rinse the cleaned surfaces with water and let them dry.

2. Use of commercial products

Another way to eliminate a musty smell in your bathroom is by using commercial products.

These can include either mold-killing products that permanently eliminate the smell source or odor eliminators that counteract the musty smells. There are also products that do both – kill mold and mildew while neutralizing the odor.

Some of the top products you can consider include

    • RMR-141 Disinfectant and Cleaner – A household disinfectant product that kills bacteria, viruses, and fungicides, including mold and mildew. It is a multipurpose cleaning solution used on nearly every surface – both hard or soft. Aside from killing mold and mildew spores, it also helps to eliminate musty smells in your house.
    • Microban 24 Hour Bathroom Cleaner – a household cleaning and sanitization product designed for use in bathrooms. You can use it to clean bathroom surfaces such as sinks, bathtubs, showers, toilets, counters, tiles, and floors. It keeps your surfaces clean while killing and preventing the growth of mold and mildew.
    • Zep Musty Odor eliminator – this is a commercial odor eliminator that neutralizes the musky smell in your bathroom. It comes with a scent that masks the musty smell from the mildew spores. However, it does not kill them and is thus best used as a temporary solution or together with other mold-killing products.
    • Concrobium Mold Control – another commercial product that targets and permanently eliminates musty smell at the source. It is ideal when dealing with soft surfaces (fabrics, wallpapers, among others) as you can spray the solution on the affected area and leave it to dry – no need for scrubbing.

There are several more mold and mildew killing/musty smell eliminators on the market. When choosing the product to use, be sure to look out for ones that offer mold-killing properties. If not, use musty smell eliminators with other products that kill mold. Products that prevent the regrowth of mold and mildew are also a great idea.

3. Use natural odor solutions

Don’t want to use commercial musty smell eliminators? It is possible to get rid of bathroom odors naturally using organic solutions.

Just like with the commercial products, these natural solutions can kill the mold and mildew, counteract/eliminate the smell, or offer a combination of both benefits.

Some of the top natural musty smell solutions include:


White vinegar is an acidic agent with both antibacterial and antifungal properties. It can kill many organisms such as fungi, mold, and mildew.

You can use the vinegar by spraying it directly to the affected surface and leaving it for about an hour for it to act. You can then rinse or wipe down the surface with clean water and leave it to air dry.

Baking soda

baking soda

Baking soda is another top natural mold and mildew control agent. It can kill the mold and mildew when applied directly (either as a paste or a water mixture spray) to the affected areas.

Baking soda can also absorb the moisture that attracts mold and mildew, thus interrupting and preventing their growth. It is also a good smell absorbent that can help to eliminate the musty smell from your bathroom.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide contains antibacterial, anti-viral, and antifungal properties and is thus a good mold control agent.

To eliminate the musty smell in your bathroom, spray one-part hydrogen peroxide mixed with one-part water to the affected areas. Let it sit for about 10 minutes, then scrub/wipe and rinse the surface.

FAQs about mildew smell in the bathroom

Are you looking for more information on mold and mildew control in your bathroom or other areas of the house? Below are some questions and their answers.

1. Is musty smell dangerous?

Mold and mildew smells are not considered fatal, but they can cause a range of health problems.

Exposure can cause throat irritation, nasal stuffiness, skin, and eye irritation, coughing, sneezing, and more. People with allergies can experience severe cases of these symptoms, which can become fatal in rare situations.

2. Will the musty smell go away after some time?

The musty smell in the bathroom can go away – but not on its own. The smell indicates the growth of mold and mildew, and the only way to remove it permanently is to kill it at the source.

If left unattended, the growth will only continue, putting your health and that of your family at more risk. Uncontained mold and mildew growth can also damage your bathroom fixtures, walls, and floors.

Final thoughts

If you are smelling a musty odor coming from your bathroom, you have a reason to be concerned. A sign of mold and mildew growth, the smell is uncomfortable, and prolonged exposure can cause some health problems. Fortunately, it is possible to eliminate it using the solutions listed above.

However, one thing to note about musty is that it can only be eradicated if you kill the mold/mildew causing it. And even then, there is still a chance of regrowth. Nonetheless, consistent control combined with regular cleaning of your bathroom will keep the mildew smell at bay.