Does My House Really Smell Like That? Five Ways to Mask the Must

updated Jul 17, 2020
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(Image credit: Stephanie Strickland)

If you’re like me or the millions of travelers this holiday season, you likely walked into your home after several days away and became acutely aware that *gasp* your house has a smell! It’s a smell that is probably constant, yet you’ve grown so accustomed to living with it that you hardly ever notice. It might not necessarily be a bad smell, and in fact some homes are downright pleasant on the nose. In my case, however, I had to face the fact that my house smelled…well…old.

The fiancé confirmed my epiphany when he came home a couple of days later. Moments after crossing the threshold, he stopped and said “we need to do something about that old-house smell”.

It’s unlikely that we will ever be rid of the mustiness that tends to be characteristic of older homes, but we’ve come up with five ways to “mask the must” when we’re feeling particularly self-conscious about it.

  1. Air It Out: The simplest and cheapest solution is to open our windows and let the outside in! For those of you living in moderate climates with a lack of extreme temperatures (such as the Bay Area), this an option basically year-round. For the rest of you, keep reading.

  2. Cleaning: Sometimes our home just needs a little scrub. Here is a list of our favorite natural & eco-friendly cleaners. Vinegar is especially good at banishing that musty smell.

  3. Cooking: Few things make a home smell more glorious than the aromas of the kitchen. Morning coffee, sautéed garlic, or freshly-baked cookies are a few of my favorites. For the not-so-culinarily-inclined, there’s always boiling delicious-smelling things in water (via One More Moore).

  4. Candles: The variety of scented candles and the places that sell them are endless. Did you know that in addition to being pretty-smelling, some of these scents have an added therapeutic benefit? Just make sure to blow them out before going to bed!

  5. Air Fresheners: From plug-ins to potpourri, there’s something for everyone out there. If you’re feeling crafty, check out these favorite DIY recipes.

Thankfully I’ve been home long enough to not notice the mustiness anymore, so I’ll likely forget about all of these these until shame (or guests on the horizon) spur me to action.

Now it’s your turn: what are your best tips for masking the must?