No one likes to have that damp basement smell in their house. It’s objectionable and usually means there’s a problem under the foundation with water. Eliminating the problem is a different matter, but there are steps you can take to get rid of the damp basement smell once the source has been remedied.
Step 1 - Clear Water Away from the Home
Clogged gutters and downspouts can contribute to the damp basement smell because they can cause standing water around the home. They need to be cleaned out at least once a year to prevent this. You may also consider putting extenders on your downspouts to conduct water farther away from the house if you have an issue with water leaking into your basement from the ground outside.
Step 2 - Clean the Basement
Clean out the basement and throw away all items that can help contribute to the odors you're trying to fight. This will include newspapers, cardboard, and upholstered furniture. When there’s excess moisture in the air, mold and mildew can quickly grow paper items or fabrics, so be sure to check anything that may be accumulating spores and get it out of the house. This will also help you rid your basement of any unwanted junk.
Then, by giving the basement a complete cleaning using soap, water, and bleach on the surfaces, you’ll take away the possibility of mold and mildew growing anywhere else, and your basement will smell a great deal better.
Step 3 - Absorb Odors
Cleaning can sometimes only do so much, so to stop the damp basement smell from lingering, you want to be able to remove the odors from the air as well. Fortunately, there are several simple methods you can use to achieve this.
First, take a few old coffee cans and place some charcoal briquettes in them. Charcoal is famous for its absorbent qualities, and it will soak up the damp basement smell very quickly to leave the air much cleaner. It will also take in some of the extra moisture in the air to aid with the source of the smell. You’ll need to replace the briquettes monthly.
Cat litter also absorbs smells very well. Put down a tray of clean cat litter in the basement to pull the smell from the air, replacing it every two weeks or as needed. If you have a cat in the home, be sure to keep it out of the basement and away from this tray or it won't be a very effective odor solution.
One more item that does an excellent job of removing odors is baking soda—that’s why many people keep it in their refrigerators. Open a box of baking soda and leave it in the basement for fresher smelling air. Depending on the size of your basement, you may need to open more than one box. Replace these every three months.
Step 4 - Keep it Fresh
If you have eliminated the damp basement smell, you don’t want it to return. Your odor eliminators will continue to help, but there are other measures you can take. Good ventilation is one solution; if you have windows in the basement, open them on dry days to allow air to flow in and out. This can also help with excess humidity in general.
A dehumidifier's express purpose is to remove moisture from the air. Having one running in the basement will keep the air drier and will help prevent any mold or mildew from growing. Cutting back on humidity and any mold and mildew growth will help keep the air cleaner. An ionizer, on the other hand, releases ions that take out bad smells in the air and leave it smelling pleasant. Invest in one for the basement to keep it smelling good. Like a dehumidifier, it’s cheap to run and worth it for a more permanent odor solution.