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10 Ways To Get Rid of That Old House Smell in Texas

Eliminating the lingering old house smell and welcoming fresh air can be a real challenge for Texas homeowners. The reasons behind these odors can vary, ranging from poor ventilation and air quality to mold growth and dampness. 

Given Texas’ diverse climate, which can be both a blessing and a curse, homeowners play a crucial role in ensuring their homes smell as fresh as possible, especially when preparing for a potential sale.

This guide provides effective solutions for eliminating the old house smell from your Texas property, giving you confidence that a fresh-smelling home is within your reach.

Identifying the Sources of Old House Smell in Texas

The first step in eliminating the old house smell and getting some fresh air flowing is to identify the source of the scent. You can’t go for deep cleaning until you know what you’re dealing with.

The common causes of musty odor lingering inside a home are mold growth, dampness, and poor ventilation. Houses with good airflow rarely smell weird.

woman smelling old house smell

Houses in Texas have to face high humidity levels and varying climate conditions throughout the year.

Areas like Houston and Galveston (The Gulf Coast regions) have high humidity levels year-round, with summer being hot and humid.

Austin and San Antonio (Central Texas) have varying humidity levels, especially after rain.

Comparatively, El Paso (Western Texas) has lower humidity levels. However, poor ventilation and the desert dryness in such locations can still cause houses to have a musty odor and low fresh air.

Assess the Home’s Ventilation

Look at the HVAC systems, air ducts, and exhaust fans. Are they functioning properly?  

The role of efficient HVAC systems in maintaining indoor air quality in Texas cannot be overstated. Given the varying climates, from humid to airy, including snow during winter in certain areas, homeowners must ensure their HVAC systems are up to the task. 

The HVAC system should be optimized to handle the type of weather your home experiences yearly to combat unwanted house smells.

Check for Dampness

Mold loves damp areas. You should inspect areas prone to dampness. Such locations include basements, bathrooms, and crawl spaces.

Austin, San Antonio, and other Central Texas areas risk flash flooding due to thunderstorms and hilly terrain. As a homeowner in such areas, you must ensure your basements don’t remain damp after a flood.

Another factor is the dust levels due to Texas’s booming industrial sector. Don’t let dust pile up in basements and corners.

Consider the Home’s Age

Old house smell can also be due to the house’s age. Outdated materials, old wooden structures, and tile are perfect surfaces for hidden mold spots (along with other mold-volatile organic compounds used in traditional Texan homes).

While owning a historical home in Texas might be something to be proud of (and might fetch a good price from the right buyer), such homes mean old structures that might be rife with mold, dust buildups, and other issues that cause the old house smell.

Evaluate Cleaning and Maintenance Routine

If you are still trying to get rid of the musty smell, consider your deep cleaning and maintenance routine. Are you using the right cleaning products? Is the issue so severe that you need to hire professional help?

Pets Odors

Carpets, upholstery, and wooden floors can absorb the pungent smell of pet excrement.

It is essential to understand that pet odors can be a significant contributor to the old house smell. This realization can prompt homeowners to take specific actions, such as cleaning pet bedding and getting carpets cleaned more frequently.

Innovative Methods to Remove Old House Smells

removing a source of old house smell

Here are some ways to eliminate lingering odors and freshen indoor air quality in an old house.

Utilize Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal neutralizes odors in Texas humidity. To counter bad smells, you can place pouches of activated charcoal in drawers, cabinets, and other areas.

Employ Air Purifiers

You should invest in air cleaners with HEPA filters to help increase levels of fresh air inside your home.

Such filters not only catch mold-building spores but are also great at capturing common Texas allergens.

Enhance Airflow with HVAC Maintenance

An efficient HVAC system can improve overall air quality in a Texan home. Also, due to Texas’s varying heat and humidity levels, you need a reliable HVAC system to deal with said levels.

Ensure you clean and change the filters when recommended to keep the air quality fresh.

Leverage Essential Oils

Essential oils have natural antimicrobial properties that can help counter mold spores and play a role in countering allergies.

Sticking to the Texan vibe, consider opting for lavender, eucalyptus, and cedarwood essential oils.

Addressing Pet Odors

Don’t let soiled pet clothes or bedding remain unclean for days. Clean such cloth as soon as possible, as carpets and furniture can absorb odors. 

Tobacco Smoke

Smoking inside your living space can be relaxing. However, the unpleasant odor of tobacco smoke can linger long after. That’s why you should try to have a designated smoking area outside your home.

To eliminate unpleasant odors from cigarette smoke, consider sprinkling baking soda on rugs, carpets, etc. Allow the baking soda to sit for a few hours, then vacuum. 

Repainting Your House

A fresh coat of paint can help seal odors and give your home a fresh-smelling scent. 

When selecting paint, opt for low-VOC paints. These paints contain fewer Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) than traditional coatings.

Odor-killing primers are also available. These don’t smell strong and are water-based. They help with permanently sealing odors indoors. 

For the exterior, go for acrylic latex paints, which offer more coverage and are durable against varying weather.

Re-carpeting Your House

Sometimes, more than baking soda and essential oils can be necessary to eliminate bad smells. Your only choice is to replace the old carpets to eliminate musty odors.

You should opt for moisture and odor-resistant materials when installing new carpets and rugs. The last thing you want is mildew growth on carpets.

Also, ensure the area is properly cleaned before installation, and the subfloor is dry. Replacing carpets in areas with excess moisture will aid the mold life cycle, and we don’t want that.

Depending on your budget, you might want to consider waterproof engineered hardwood or carpet tiles.

Updating Furniture in Your House

Do you love grandma’s couch enough to let it stink up your house? If not, getting rid of it might be a good idea. If you do want to keep it, hire a professional upholstery cleaning company to help eliminate odors.

When updating furniture, choose materials that are less likely to absorb foul odors. These materials include microfiber, bamboo, linen, cotton, and merino wool.

Airing Your House Out

Airing your house out is another budget-friendly way to eliminate old, musty odors. Keep the windows and doors open, and turn on ceiling fans for thorough ventilation.

It’s recommended that Texans air out their homes for at least 15 minutes every morning, especially during the summer. Again, open the windows. 

Now, doing so won’t be possible for everyone during winter. However, an effective HVAC system can help with ventilation during winter months.

Professional Cleaning for Old House Smells in Texas

cleaning the source of old house smell

Even though there are ways to combat pungent smells and create an inviting atmosphere inside your home, there can be instances where professional cleaning is required.

Large mold and mildew deposits require professional assistance. The same goes for dust buildup and moisture seeping into the floorboards, crawl space, and more.

Not addressing mold due to humidity and dust buildup commonly causes a lousy smell in houses.

Benefits of Professional Services

Professionals know how to clean a house deep to counter the source of foul odors. They are also trained to fix and maintain HVAC systems, air conditioners, etc.

They are trained to handle hard-to-reach areas and possible hazardous materials that cause bad smells. They can help adequately clean hard surfaces, wood floors, furniture, and more without increasing the risk of mold and mildew growth after cleaning.

Texas offers several professional restoration and HVAC services. Most focus on helping families recover from mold—and odor-causing water damage.

Some services include TopFloor, Elements of Restoration, RestoPros, and All Nation Restoration. Because emergencies can happen during the day or night, most services have an under-24-hour response rate. 


Musty smells can take away from the aesthetic beauty of your home. It doesn’t matter how beautiful you made a house’s exterior and interior look; the old house smell is the only thing people will remember. And that’s a big no if you’re looking to sell to potential buyers.

A lot can be done to improve indoor air quality, from baking soda to activated charcoal to ensuring proper ventilation via HVAC systems and air purifiers.

Of course, depending on the situation, you can opt for professional cleaning services to make a house smell good.

If you are struggling to eliminate odors in your old house, get in touch with A-List Properties today to inquire about a cash offer on your home. It’s a quick and convenient way to get out of a problem house while still getting top dollar.

Sell My House Fast Texas | We Buy Houses Texas

Zach Shelley

Zach Shelley is a seasoned real estate investor with a diverse network spanning across the nation. As the founder of his own real estate venture, Zach is committed to offering innovative solutions to homeowners facing various real estate challenges.. Through his dedication and strategic approach, Zach continues to make a significant impact in the real estate industry, providing homeowners with alternative pathways to navigate their property transactions.

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