Why Do My Floorboards Smell Musty? [Reasons & Remedies]

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Windering why do my floorboards smell musty? Well, there are multiple reasons behind your floorboard to emit a musty smell. The presence of mold under the floorboard is one of those; in addition, your room is not getting enough sunlight and ventilation.

Often such smells are quite common in old houses. The moment you lift up your old floorboards, you can smell an intense odor due to the bacteria formed within them.

Generally, the smell shows up when your floorboard is not cleaned for a very long time. The dust gathered on your floorboard is dirt, pollen, insects, and it can be pet hair too. These elements may invite unexpected health problems if there are infants and elderly people at your house.

During such a situation, it is quite obvious for you to get common queries like why do my floorboards smell musty? Reasons behind the musty smell? How to get rid of it and much more that we have discussed in this detailed guide.

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class=”gb-headline gb-headline-8dcd5095 gb-headline-text”>Why Do My Floorboards Smell So Musty?

The presence of mold is one of the main reasons for your floorboard to emit a musty smell. This particular odor is also considered musty.

According to some of the leading floorboard renovation specialists, the presence of water (like pet urine, leakage, or flooding) beneath your floorboard creates moisture. Water moisture aids mold growth on your floor.

The moisture created beneath the floorboard acts as a catalyst for the molds to spread quickly. Pet urine is another reason for the mildews to grow rapidly.

The moisture formation from the leaking pipes or pet urine is also a significant reason for the musty smell to show up from your floorboard.

Lack of adequate sunlight and proper air ventilation is also a significant reason behind the musty odor show up. If you can smell one such odor from your old floor, you should figure out the reasons behind such unpleasant odor arising from your old floorboard in detail.

How To Define A Musty Smell, Does It Mean Mildews?

By going exactly as per the definition of a musty smell is, it is a stale odor that usually comes from suspected damp, moldy elements.

A musty smell is a sign that ensures you that your floorboard is unclean. Now it can be either due to dampness or due to lack of proper ventilation within the rooms for a long time.

If you are smelling any such odor in your rooms, you should inspect it carefully. In maximum cases, it has been seen that lack of proper air circulation leading to dampness is the root cause of a musty smell. Frequently these are the favorable conditions for growing mold.

That is why, if you are getting such a smell in your house, there’s a huge chance that it is caused due to overgrown mildews in your house. Unattended floorboard planks are a suitable breeding ground for molds, which are also known as harmful fungi.

Reasons Behind Floorboards Musty Smell: Detailed Explanation

You can smell an unpleasant odor from your old floorboard due to the lack of proper inflow into a space that is enclosed from all sides.

Apart from that, it is also important for you to know whether mites have thrived in the old floorboard covered on your wooden floor or not. There can be various other reasons too. Let’s explore those in detail:


Overgrown mildews are one of the main reasons for maximum floorboards to give a musty odor. Basically, mildews are a type of fungus which breeds in those areas which are exposed to improper ventilation and moisture.

Usually, these areas are the unused corners of the storeroom, dark corners of your attic, and it can even be your garage which cannot be exposed to sunlight.

During rainy seasons, this mildew grows rapidly in floorboards in the presence of moisture. In fact, the area beneath the floorboards is an ideal spot for molds to propagate steadily.

These molds are responsible for the emission of VOCs, also known as, Volatile Organic Compounds, in your rooms. Honestly, this is a prime reason for a nasty, unpleasant smell to arise from your old floor.


Vermin is the collective name given for the small pests. It could be either rats, mice, flies or lice, bedbugs, or cockroaches. At times, they are difficult to control, as they are small in size.

These obnoxious pests are the prime origin of a musty odor from your old floorboard. That’s when you should call the Local Authority near your house to find a remedy for getting rid of these pests.

These vermin can be dangerous for your house if there are children and elderly people living in the house. You can always expect the local authority to send people who are experts in helping you to get rid of vermin from your old floorboard.


Accumulation of dust is a major factor for an unpleasant smell to arise from your uncleaned floor. Apart from dirt, oil, or other stains on the filthy floorboard are a significant reason for a musty smell to arise from the floorboard.

It is quite difficult for you to remember when you have cleaned the floorboard plank for the last time. The unnoticed dirt accumulated on your floorboard can possibly affect the natural odor of your rooms.

If you forget to lift up the floorboards and clean the dust for too long, the unpleasant odor will affect the natural smell of your house.

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Sometimes, a musty smell may arise from your old floorboard after a flood. Generally, this musty smell occurs when the ground or the floors of your house get saturated as the water table rises. It is the damp soil from where the musty odor evokes.

There is a high chance for the smell to bother the residents of your house when frequent rainwater affects the basic foundation of your house, especially the floors.

That is when you need an expert’s advice to check the flooding beneath the property. If you suspect any such problem due to flooding, you should contact your water supplier to repair those faults.

Once they are detected, you can make appropriate decisions for repairing the damaged areas of the floorboard planks.

Pet Urine

It is a common scenario to happen in your house if there are pets. The pet urine-soaked floorboard can be one of the reasons for a musty smell to pop up all of a sudden. Even if you have hardwood flooring, it is quite obvious for you to get unpleasant smells throughout the rooms.

Inadequate Ventilation

Inadequate ventilation in a room fails the outside air from flowing throughout the rooms. The worst part is, lack of proper ventilation may impact the natural airflow within the rooms.

Now that can be a serious problem if there are elderly people or infants in the room. Breathing in musty air can lead to serious breathing trouble, and those with bronchial problems may have serious breathing problems in your house. You can also expect various ailments leading to dust allergies.

Common Penetrative Damp

The penetrative damp is a common factor for occurring an unhealthy, unpleasant smell in your house. The rising and penetrative damp can be a suitable reason to spread the worn and torn smell of the white primer that has not been changed for a long time.

These damps are a good route for various pests and vermin to rampage your home very often. The musty smell arising from the vermin may cause common ailments like puking, suffocation, claustrophobia, etc.

The worst part is there are maximum chances for the damaged drain pipes to lead rainwater into the rooms. Once the stale rainwater is spread in the room, it becomes next to impossible for the residents to live in the house.

If a popular defect like penetrative damp is overlooked, it may cause dry rot, which is more expensive and harder to eradicate.

Now that you have realized the reasons for your floorboards to smell a dirty odor, it is essential for you to fix those problems. Nowadays, it is easy to run a DIY fix for restoring your old aging floorboards.

However, you can also ask a flooring renovation specialist to do it on your behalf, but a DIY fix is going to be a far more affordable option for you. If you are running a DIY fix, the following guidelines can be quite useful.

Keep Reading: Ways To Get Rid Of Water Stains From Wood Floors

How To Get Rid Of Musty Smelling Floorboards? Few DIY Tips To Follow

If you are headstrong to get rid of the filthy smell of the old floorboards, you should organize a DIY fix. Running a DIY fix to remove the unpleasant smell from your floorboard is no big deal.

The best part is it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to gather the materials needed for removing the filthy smell coming out of your floorboard. These are the daily essentials required in every home.

Cleaning Up The Entire Floorboard Or Plank With A Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the best elements needed for removing the smell from floorboards. The following remedies can be followed for cleaning up the old floorboard with vinegar.

  • It is wise to pour 1 cup of vinegar in a bucket along with 1 gallon of water. Use a mop in the solution, wring it out, and clean the floor with patience. Give some time for the floor to get dry, once that happens you can place it back in its original place.
  • It is advisable to sprinkle a light layer of baking soda over the surface and leave it overnight. When that’s done, sweep it up by using the mop.

Clearing The Mold Away

Sometimes, overgrown mildews may be responsible for a filthy musty smell to arise from old floorboards. Consider the following remedies to clear them from your old floorboard,

  • Lift up and remove the floorboards and inspect the area where mildews have been overgrown. Be cautious while clutching it. It is advisable to wear rubber hand gloves before touching the mildews. Remove those molds grown in it and replace with new ones
  • You can also restore the floorboard by finding the source of the spore created in it. It’s the hole created in the floorboard from where the cool damp air is inflown from outside. Once the source is located, you can enclose it with either a plaster or cut and remove the particular section of the plank by replacing it with a new one.
  • Cleaning the floorboard with warm soapy water is a good DIY remedy to get rid of mildews. It will also help you to get rid of the musty odor arising from the floorboard. After washing it with soapy warm water, keep it under sunlight for the water to dry-up. Then you can place it in the same place.
  • Vinegar is a good solution for removing mildews. Wiping the mold-affected area with vinegar in the floorboard will eliminate the molds. Once that’s done, you will never get the same musty smell again, at least for the next few months.
  • Replace the plank with a new one

Deploy A Dehumidifier

A dehumidifier device is a good option to remove the smelly moldy odor arising from the dirty floorboard planks. This particular device reduces the humidity level relatively within a specific area of your room. Installing one such device is a good option to fight the filthy smell.

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Clearing The Areas Beneath The Floorboard Plank

Often it is quite obvious for us to overlook the dust accumulated in the area beneath the floorboard plank. Getting rid of the dirt accumulated in the area is a good way to clear out the dust. To clear out the dust gathered beneath your floorboard plank, the following DIY fix can be used.

  • Pick up the toolbox, clean it up with a broom and gather the dust in a dustpan and then safely dispose of it in dustbin.
  • Lift the floorboard plank carefully. Watch out for the nails and clean it without leaving a single portion unattended. You might use a vacuum cleaner or any other sweeping material to ensure that the entire board has been cleaned thoroughly. When you are done, restore the floorboard plank to its original position.

Is It True That Musty Smells Can Be Dangerous?

Yes, a musty smell can always be considered dangerous, especially if it is caused due to mold. The common breathing problems arising from it are one of the significant reasons for which it is considered hazardous for the residents of the house.

These moldy floorboards cause significant damage to the house. If the floorboard planks are already damaged, the residents of the house may cause serious accidents.

The worst part is the odor of the mildews is responsible for causing asthma, allergies, nasal stuffiness, and eye irritation. If there are elderly people and infants at home, the musty smell can be sufficiently hazardous for both.

Final Words

Maximum interior renovation experts and flooring restoration service providers always take additional care while floorboard revival.

That’s because the musty smell coming up from a damaged or faulty floorboard restoration is quite important to ensure the longevity of the interior flooring of a house.

If you are finding any such issue related to a musty smell arising from your old floorboard plank, it is important to look into it and find a suitable remedy to get rid of it.

If you are planning a DIY fix to remove the unpleasant musty odor of the floorboards, you can also read the comprehensive guide shared above on your query “why do my floorboards smell musty?”.

It will enrich your basic knowledge of the DIY floorboard musty smell removal process. That way, you can perform the entire process all alone.

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