How to Get Rid of Mildew Smell in Bathroom

Mildew is a pretty typical household odor that most of us are deeply familiar with. It’s a musty smell that can develop overnight in musty and damp conditions.

When mildew grows in a bathroom, it can spread the nasty odor onto everything, including your towels.

If your bathroom has a mildew odor, don’t fret. You can get rid of it with some sustained steps.

Let’s explore how you can free your bathroom of the misty mildew odor!

How to Get Rid of Mildew Odor from Your Bathroom

Here are the steps that you need to take to get rid of mildew odor from your bathroom:

1. Locate the Odor-Causing Mildew Growth

Naturally, the first step in getting rid of the odor is to locate its source. Look at every inch of your bathroom to find the mildew growth. Remove any obstacle that might get in your way.

For instance, take down the shower curtains and remove the foot rug. Also, relocate any toiletries that are obstructing your view.

When looking for mildew, make sure to check the usual suspects, such as tub caulking and grout lines. They tend to retain moisture and hence, are active breeding grounds for mildew.

Sniffing around the space will also help you get a better idea of where the odor is the strongest.

If you see a powdery or downy texture developing on any surface in your bathroom, it might be mildew.

The powdery variety of mildew is white when it begins to grow but turns brown, yellow, or black as it multiplies. Meanwhile, downy mildew starts out yellow and turns brown with age.

2. Scrub the Affected Area with a Bleach Solution

Once you have successfully located the mildew growth in your bathroom, make sure to spot-treat the affected areas.

However, if you have searched everywhere but can’t spot any apparent growth, you will need to clean the entire room. Clean every surface, such as walls, counters, mirrors, shower, sink, floor, bathtub, and toilet. It will help you stem the growth in its track.

To clean the bathroom, mix one part of bleach and four parts of water in a large bucket. Dip a sponge in the bleach solution and wring it. Alternatively, use a funnel to transfer the solution into a spray bottle and spray the solution onto the affected areas.

Let the bleach solution sit on the surface for five to ten minutes. Use a clean cloth dipped in warm water to wipe away the bleach solution.

Make sure to use an absorbent cloth or another sponge to remove any bleach residue after cleaning. Otherwise, some surfaces, such as drywall, will absorb the moisture and promote mold and mildew growth.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to wear rubber gloves so that you don’t get any chemical burns from the bleach.

3. Wash Everything Else

When it comes to removing mildew odor, scrubbing your bathroom floors and walls might not be enough.

If you want to truly get rid of the stench, you will have to clean and wash everything. It includes those neglected hand-towels that have been hanging by the bathroom door for a long time now.

You will also benefit from washing the musty bathroom rugs, shower curtains, window curtains, etc.

Don’t forget to clean your foot rug as well. For machine-washable items, soak them in all-fabric bleach for about 30 minutes before putting them in the washing machine.

After rinsing off the bleach solution, run the laundry through the washer just like regular laundry.

Alternatively, you can add one cup of white vinegar to wash the load and remove the mildew stench. Make it a habit to frequently rinse your nonslip mats to get rid of any mildew-attracting buildup on them.

Also, toss your vinyl shower curtain and replace them with a washable cotton, nylon, or help shower curtain.

For throw rugs, you can also wash them with cold water and detergent. Just make sure to measure the quantity of the detergent based on the directions on the bottle.

For any pictures, keepsakes, accessories, and toiletries in your bathroom, clean them with an all-purpose cleaner. It will remove any mildew caused by steam coating your décor, pictures, and toiletries.

4. Address Possible Water Leaks

Water is the ultimate culprit behind mildew and mold growth and that nasty, damp smell in your bathroom. Your bathroom can develop a mildew odor if you have a slow drain leak around a drain or under a sink.

Similarly, mildew can develop near and in toilets with a leak in their wax ring seals. It’s because water will continue to seep out from under the toilet and lead to humidity and dampness.

The only fix to prevent mildew growth and eventual damp smell is to fix the leak promptly. You can do it yourself or hire a professional to do it for you.

Make sure to wipe the area that accumulated water with a high-quality bleach-based cleaner. Follow it up with a dry cloth to ensure the area remains moisture-free.

Bathtubs can also develop mildew if they are not sealed appropriately. If water continues to accumulate between the wall and the tub, it will lead to significant mildew growth.

A bleach solution can get rid of the mildew on top of the caulk. However, if it starts developing underneath the wall, you will need to remove it and recaulk the area.

5. Ventilate Your Bathroom

Most bathrooms end up developing mildew because they are not well-ventilated. The darker, warmer, and damper a room is, the higher are the chances of mildew to thrive in it.

To ensure that mildew doesn’t take root in your bathroom, you must ventilate it properly.

Letting some fresh air in will also get rid of the damp mildew odor. So, open the windows of your bathroom. If your bathroom doesn’t have a window, keep the door cracked open when showering.

You can also install a ceiling or bracket fan in the bathroom to keep the air moving.

An exhaust fan will also cut down the moisture in the room. You also need to let your cabinets air out a little every once in a while.

All of these steps will help you combat moisture accumulation in the bathroom and prevent mildew growth.

6. Invest in an Air Purifier

Mildew and mold don’t just lead to a damp, musty smell. It can also cause nose, throat, lung, and eye irritation. Plus, it can exacerbate respiratory issues in people with existing health conditions, such as asthma.

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The best way to prevent any such allergies and reactions is to invest in a high-quality air purifier.

An air purifier with a high airflow will increase the air circulation in your bathroom. It will effectively help you combat mildew and mold growth.

A premium-quality air purifier can remove mildew from the air, preventing it from forming clusters and thriving. It can also destroy the growth, ensuring that it doesn’t grow on the filters and bleed back into the air.

7. Install a Dehumidifier

You can also invest in a reliable dehumidifier for your bathroom.

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It will keep the humidity levels low. If the humidity is low, mildew will not grow, and you will not have to deal with its musty odor.

To prevent mildew from growing in your bathroom, keep the humidity level between 40% and 50%.

8. Apply a Fresh Coat of Paint

Do you want to keep the musty odor of mildew at bay?

Use mildew-resistant paint. You can look into paints that come with odor-eliminating technology. They can inhibit the growth of mildew and reduce typical indoor odors as well.

However, before coating your bathroom walls with this paint, treat the existing mildew properly.

Check all splash-prone areas, such as the lower corners and parts of your wall and floor, for mildew growth.

After cleaning the space, apply a coat of mildew-resistant primer on your walls and ceiling to avoid flaking in high-moisture spots. Allow the coat of primer to air dry completely.

Then, apply a coat of mildew-resistant paint to get rid of the musty smell in your bathroom.

9. Use an Odor Eliminator or Absorber

Lastly, you can use odor-eliminators or absorbers to get rid of the musty odor of mildew. These include baking soda, kitty litter, or charcoal briquettes. These items will make your bathroom smell fresher.

It’s because they can absorb the musty odor and the moisture in the air.

You can fill a large container about halfway with your chosen odor eliminator to keep mildew at bay.

However, make sure to replace it every month or so for it to remain effective. You can also use natural air fresheners, such as citrus peels or essential oils, to combat the odor.

How to Prevent Mildew Growth and Odor in Your Bathroom

Ideally, the best way to get rid of mildew odor is to prevent the development of mildew.

Here are some ways in which you can keep your bathroom mildew-free:

  • Keep the area as clean and dry as possible. Use vipers after every bath or shower to ensure that water doesn’t pool in the room. Use exhaust vans and open windows to keep the room ventilated.
  • Always put your laundry inside a hamper and wash it every day to prevent mildew growth. The sweat and tiny debris particles in laundry promote mildew development.
  • Dry off before stepping out of the shower. It will keep the floor and bath mat dry.
  • Make sure your towel is dry.
  • Change your shower curtain liners regularly, as mildew tends to thrive on them.
  • Clean your bathroom with a bleach solution regularly to prevent mildew growth.

The Bottom Line

Getting rid of mildew and its persistent odor is an uphill battle that you can win strategically. You have to be consistent in your efforts to combat mildew growth and keep the musty smell at bay.

Make sure to keep your bathroom ventilated. Open a window, crack the door open, and use an exhaust fan.

Address potential water leaks and keep your bathroom dry.

Get rid of any existing mildew growth right away. Use a bleach and water solution to combat and prevent mildew development. Invest in odor absorbers, humidifiers, and air purifiers.

Good luck!

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