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Musty Smell in Crawl Space: Reasons & Solutions

We all have crawl space in our house for plumbing or wiring space. It has little space to crawl over that area instead of standing, but this space needs to be cleaned routinely. Otherwise, it will spread some foul smell in the air.

Today we will talk about the musty smell in your crawl space and will see the reasons & solutions accordingly. You will get all the tips to sort out the problem and know the DIY solutions to follow frequently.

Musty smell in crawl sink

There is a musty smell in your crawl space because of mold, animal droppings, & sewage leaks—these are three main reasons for the musty smell in your crawl space. You can easily remove the smell if you know some home tips. Vinegar & baking soda, and other ingredients will help you.

You must clean your entire house and every crawl space to eliminate any musty or foul smell. Leaving any space for a long time without cleaning will be a significant loss, and you will face a challenge to deep clean that area.

Maybe your crawl space is large enough for kids & pets to go there and leave.

If you have pets who love to go and hide in your crawl space, you must clean that area every week or make a routine.

Sometimes, the rain-dropping water will create a big problem for you that will be another cause of a serious musty smell. Whatever the reasons, you must solve them by cleaning and solving the issues seriously.

Although the first three reasons are very common, rainwater is another common reason. We will cover that and show you why it causes the musty smell in your crawl space and how you can remove that foul smell. The solution will be discussed in the following section.

Mold & Mildew:

If you keep your crawl space or kitchen sink unclean for a long time, the mold and mildew will grow there and spread a musty smell.

It will mostly happen if you forget to clean the crawl space after returning from a long vacation. It’s a good practice to clean these spaces after you get back to your home.

Otherwise, the mold & mildew will grow, becoming sturdy to remove. You must apply washing detergent and other chemical-based cleaners to remove the mold and clean them perfectly.

It’s a good idea not to allow the mold & mildew to grow and become a fixed problem there.

Rodents droppings:

Another reason for the musty smell in your crawl space is rodents & other animals’ droppings.

If you have other pets, they might leave in your crawl space, creating that musty smell. Their droppings will create a foul smell in the air and will become a weird thing to clean.

Sewage Leaks:

Sewage leaks are the most common reason for getting a musty smell from your crawl space. If you have any concerns regarding sewage leaks, you must check all your pipelines and find out if there are any leaks.

Whenever you find such a problem, you must repair that leak or replace that pipe immediately.

Otherwise, the musty smell will create some issues that will be unbearable. If you leave it for a month, you cannot even dare to go there and repair the pipelines. So, check & go for immediate action.

Rain Water:

Another significant reason for having a musty smell from your crawl space is rainwater.

It will be a common reason you should consider rainwater another culprit. Here, the rainwater will be in your crawl space for a long time, allowing the mold and other bacteria to grow.

Do vinegar and baking soda remove crawl space musty odors?

The vinegar & baking soda will remove the crawl space’s musty odors because they have some natural ingredients that will fight against mold & other bacteria.

They will remove that musty smell from your crawl space if you create a good mixture of vinegar, baking soda, and hot water.

Whenever you find a strong, musty smell from your house, you must try vinegar & baking soda.

They are the best home cleaning products that can remove any strong smell and dirt from everywhere. You should spray the mixture over that crawl space and vacuum or use a regular cleaner.

If you follow that way, you will remove the string musty smell from your crawl space. You also have some other options of using different chemicals & cleaning materials to clean your crawl space. Remember, you can apply vinegar & baking soda over anything.

Why is there a musty smell in the crawl space after rain?

There is a musty smell in the crawl space after rain because of growing mold & mildew. Usually, rainwater needs direct sunlight to dry and clean those areas, but the crawl space doesn’t have any access to direct sunlight.

It remains dry & will be a shadowy area for a long time. Rainwater will be there, and it will not find any way to flow and leave; therefore, it will be there & will create a musty smell by helping the existing mold & mildew.

These mold and other bacteria will grow dramatically & become an excellent problem for crawl space and will help to create a musty smell.

If your crawl space already has some mold & bacteria, the rainwater will spread the existing musty smell in the air. That’s another reason you get a musty smell from your crawl space after rain.

How do you get rid of the musty smell in the crawl space?

You can get rid of the musty smell in the crawl space by the following steps.

Check Crack:

Check that there are no cracks or other openings in your crawl area that could allow groundwater to seep in.

Mold and mildew are byproducts of moisture, which can contribute to an unpleasant odor. There may be a significant difference after waterproofing your crawl area.


Ventilate your crawl space. The musty or stale air can be eliminated with proper air circulation.


While inside the crawl space, working to prevent mold and mildew and eliminate the smell, use sprays to temporarily eliminate the odors. This will allow you to continue working. It will make the job easier to bear as a result of this.


Completely cleaning the crawl space should help get rid of the odor that is there right away. The musty odor is caused not only by the growth of mold and mildew but also by the accumulation of dirt and dust.

Install Vapor Barrier:

A vapor barrier should be installed to limit the amount of moisture produced inside the crawl space.

A plastic tarp with a thickness of at least 6 mils is considered a vapor barrier. It is spread out over the ground of the crawl space, where it assists in preventing the crawl space from becoming contaminated with ground moisture.

Installing vapor barriers is a straightforward and uncomplicated process. The growth of mold and mildew can be halted, and the musty odor can be reduced significantly.

How to prevent a musty smell from forming in the crawl space?

The following tips can easily prevent a musty smell from forming in the crawl space. I’ve been following these tips for years and still get benefits and good relief from them.

Drainage System:

A drainage system is necessary for preventing the crawl space from becoming damp and will, as a result, be your buddy in the struggle to eliminate the foul odor.

Through a system of drains, it is utilized to eliminate the water that has accumulated in the crawl area. Landscape grading or pumps may be utilized to transfer the water away from the house and into a place where it cannot cause harm.

Sump Pump:

The water that enters your crawl area is directed to a sump pit, which collects the water. Because the pit will be situated in the lowest area of the house, water will gravitate in its direction due to its lower elevation.

The activation of a sump pump is controlled by a floating switch that is triggered when the sump pit is filled with sufficient water.

The pump will then move the water through a network of pipelines, and it will be ejected outside the home, where it will be able to do damage to the surrounding property.

It is advantageous for the pit to be large enough to house a backup pump since such a pump may be required during blackouts when there is no electricity to run the primary pump.

Final Thoughts

Mold & mildew, rainwater, animal droppings, and other reasons you get a musty smell from your crawl space. You must clean that area regularly & get things clear after a month. Otherwise, the leftover stuff will create that foul smell. Vinegar could be your best solution.