House Smells Musty After Vacation? Here’s What Happened

So you’ve been to a week-long getaway only to come home to a bad smell. If your house smells musty after vacation, something is surely going on.

A musty odor can indicate several problems in your home, which will directly impact your indoor air quality. It’s important to inspect and check to see where the smell is coming from.

Below, we discussed the possibilities to help you identify what’s causing the musty scent in your home.

Reasons why a house smells musty after vacation

Your home can develop a myriad of odors at any time. But if there’s a musty whiff after you come home from vacation, the following might be the reasons why:

1. Mold growth

house smells musty after vacation

The leading source of a musty smell indoors is mold growth. This can happen when you leave your home shut and dark for days, which is the case when going on vacations.

On average, it will only take molds 24 to 48 hours to form on a damp surface. When your family is on a vacation, your home becomes the perfect breeding ground for mold spores. It’s because your house will be dark, undisturbed, and likely have trapped moisture somewhere.

The musty smell is due to the gas molds release called microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs). Overall, the only way to get rid of the musty odor permanently is to eliminate the molds.

2. Poor ventilation

Another reason for the musty smell in your house is the lack of air circulation. When go you on a vacation, you shut all windows and doors. You also turn off your HVAC system, which basically eliminates any form of ventilation possible.

Over the days, the smell of your carpet, curtains, floor, kitchen, and other elements will create a musty odor.

The good thing is that this is easy to solve once you get home. Simply open the windows or run your HVAC system to aerate the house.

3. Unemptied bins

Did you leave unemptied bins in the house before going on a vacation? If so, don’t be surprised if your home will have a nasty and musty odor.

Items like meat scrap, fruit peelings, and other perishable matter will decay and release a foul smell. It will also harbor molds and a slew of odor-releasing bacteria. And as the odor lingers inside your house, it will get much worse.

4. Spoiled food in the fridge

If your house doesn’t have signs of molds, it’s best to check if you have spoiled food inside the fridge. Spoiled and expired food items stink and can make your entire house smell foul.

With this, you should empty your fridge of any perishable food items before you head for vacation. This will save your nose from the pungent odor once you arrive home.

Moreover, you shouldn’t store soda cans inside your fridge if you’re going on a vacation. These cans can explode, especially if you leave your fridge running.

5. Dead indoor plants

Indoor plants help improve your indoor air quality only if they are alive.

Forgetting to take your indoor plants out before heading for a vacation will kill it. As the leaves and stems decompose, the dead plant will release various odors. It will also start to form molds, especially if the soil has been waterlogged for too long.

If you’re planning a vacation, it’s best to ask someone to visit your home and water your plants regularly. If you don’t want anyone entering your home, you can take the plants out and that person can water them in your yard.

6. Dirty laundry

Lastly, dirty laundry left in the hamper for days can cause musty odors. This happens because of the bacterial growth on the dirty fabric as well as the poor ventilation of your locked-up home.

Before going on a vacation, it’s best to wash all your laundry. This is also a practical move since you’ll be washing more loads of clothes once you get home from your outing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do my walls smell musty?

A: A musty smell on your walls can indicate hidden water damage. The trapped moisture inside allowed molds to grow, thus the unusual odor. If the musty scent gets stronger by the day, you should consider hiring a mold removal service. These professionals have specialized tools that can detect water damage behind walls without the need to disassemble them.

Q: Why does my house smell like an old house?

A: Your house may smell stale or musty if it has poor ventilation. This causes bodily odors, cooking smells, off-gassing, and other smells to get trapped inside. Take note that an “old house scent” indicates that something is wrong with your home. It’s important to trace the root of the problem. From there, you can take steps to restore the fresh scent of your house.

Q: Does a musty smell always mean mold?

A: A musty smell is a tell-tale sign of molds, but this isn’t the only potential source of the odor. Other things like dirty laundry, unemptied bins, wet fabrics, and your pet can emit the same smell. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to have your home inspected for molds. This way, its presence will be detected and removed early.

Q: Why does my home smell musty during winter?

A: A musty smell during winter is often due to the lack of ventilation. Your doors and windows are often shut tight, which prevents air circulation. However, the musty smell during winter can also indicate that molds are forming in your basement due to accumulated condensation.

Q: Does a musty smell go away on its own?

A: A musty smell won’t go away naturally if it’s caused by molds. You have to remove the molds efficiently to eliminate the odor that comes with them. The same goes for other things that may emit a musty smell in your house.

Final words

If your house smells musty after vacation, you must check for potential sources like dirty laundry, garbage cans, dead plants, and more. You should also rule out the possibility of mold growth.

In case you can’t find where the smell is coming from, you can always hire a professional to inspect your home.