How To Stop Your Garage Smelling Musty Or Moldy

Are you concerned because your garage always smells musty or moldy? Even though there are a lot of cars, lawnmowers, weed whackers, garbage cans, and recycling bins in the garage, this does not necessarily mean it has to smell bad. If you take the time to clean out your garage occasionally, you can keep a lot of these disgusting orders at bay. Unfortunately, if your garage already smells moldy or musty, you may be wondering how you can get rid of these smells.

There are several important steps you need to take if you want to clean out your garage. Take a look at some important points below, and see if you can prevent your garage from getting moldy or musty in the future. A smelly garage can be frustrating, but this isn’t something you need to deal with forever!

Why Does Your Garage Smell Bad?

View of a metal garage door
View of a metal garage door

If you want to get rid of a stinky smell from your garage, the first thing you need to do is figure out where the smell is coming from. Because of all the stuff you have in your garage, it can be difficult to figure out the source of the smell. There are a few common culprits – and some of the most common reasons why garages smell bad include:

  • Your Garbage Can: If your garage smells a bit musty, the first thing you need to think about is your garbage can. Do you keep your garbage can in the garage? If so, be brave, go over to the garbage can, and see if the smell is coming from inside. You might be surprised at what you see. Occasionally, an animal can get inside your garbage can and die in there, leading to a disgusting smell. Or, you may have food waste that has gone especially bad.
  • Your Recycling Bin: This is a similar situation to your garbage can. You need to think carefully about what you put in the recycling bin. If you put a bunch of food waste in the recycling bin, it can spoil inside, leading to a disgusting smell. This is another possible reason why your garage doesn’t smell that great.
  • Gross Fumes: Next, you need to think about disgusting fumes that might be present in the garage as well. There are several common items that people store in the garage that can lead to smelly fumes. You may want to think about cleaning products you have stored in the garage. You should also consider garden chemicals that you might use to keep weeds at bay. If you painted your house recently, paint fumes can also contribute to the problem. Do not forget about the motor oil you use to power your lawnmower.
  • Standing Water: Standing water is one of the most common reasons why your garage might smell bad. If you washed out your garage recently, or if you used the hose, there could be standing water in the garage. This is a serious problem, and you need to find a way to get rid of it. If you have water in the garage, mold and mildew may start to grow. Furthermore, mold and mildew may be coming through the walls of the garage because they are not very thick. Without any insulation to get in the way, it is easy for mold and mildew to grow. Finally, rain water can sometimes come in under the garage door – a weatherproof strip can help in this case. Any of these could be the reason why your garage smells a bit musty.
  • Pet Waste: Think about pet waste as well. If you have dogs or cats at home, you may have kennels and litter boxes outside. You need to change the cat litter regularly, or your garage is going to smell a bit musty. You should also think about kennels, as they can contribute to the smell. Make sure you clean them from time to time.

These are a few of the most common reasons why your garage might smell bad. After you have figured out where the bad smell is coming from, it is time to get to work taking care of this issue.

The Top Ways To Clean Out The Smell In Your Garage

If you want to get rid of the dirty smell in your garage, there are several steps you need to take. These include:

Start With the Garbage Can and Recycling Bin

The first thing you need to do is think about your garbage can and recycling bin. This is one of the most common reasons why garages smell bad, so you need to hose them down from time to time. Ideally, the best time to clean out your garbage can and recycling bin is after it has been taken away. Immediately after the city empties out your garbage can and recycling bin, clean it out.

Take the cans around the side of the house, turn on the hose, and make sure you get rid of everything from the inside. Then, open the tops and leave them outside to dry. You need to make sure you get rid of any standing water in the garbage can or recycling bin. Otherwise, mold starts to grow, making the situation worse.

Get Rid of Spills and Water

Lots of rainwater coming in under a garage door
Lots of rainwater coming in under a garage door

Next, you need to get rid of any spills that might be present. For example, if there are dirty chemicals, motor oil, or cleaning supplies on the ground, make sure you clean up the mess. Hose it down, and make sure you allow the garage to dry.

Then, you need to get rid of any standing water as well. If you have had a hard time getting your garage to dry properly, you may want to get a few fans. Close the doors, turn them on, and allow your garage to dry completely. This is critically important for preventing mold and mildew from growing in the garage.

Finally, if damp is coming in through the walls or under the garage door, this should be resolved too. This may involve using waterproof paint on the walls, or a weatherstrip along the garage door:

A weatherproof strip being installed along the garage door floor line
A weatherproof strip being installed along the garage door floor line

If you think that the cause of the smell is due to the building itself, you may need to call in a contractor for a proper, professional opinion.

Target the Floor Drains

If you have drains in the garage, you need to think about them as well. Take a look at your drain, and see if you are noticing multiple colors. If that is what you see, there is a chance you may have mold and mildew growing underneath the floor drain. You may want to see if you can unscrew the floor drain itself.

Then, make sure you clean the drain thoroughly with strong cleaning products. That way, you can kill anything that might be growing on it. You may want to do the same thing inside the floor drain after you remove the top. Make sure you take your time with these drains, as mold and mildew can spread from this location to the rest of your garage.

Take Bleach to the Garage

If you have a chronic mold and mildew problem in your garage, this can be frustrating. You might be wondering how you can get rid of it. One of the top ways to do so is to use bleach. This is a relatively straightforward process.

Take 1 cup of chlorine bleach, combine it with a gallon of water in a large bucket, and then use the entire solution to mop the floors and the walls of the garage. One of the most common mistakes people make during this process is that they do not think about cleaning the walls with a bleach solution. Because the walls are relatively thin, this is a great way for mold and mildew to get in the garage. Therefore, you need to hit the problem at the source with some bleach.

It is important to think about your safety during the process. You need to give your garage space to ventilate properly. Make sure you leave the garage door open as you clean it with bleach. Furthermore, once you are done with the beach, make sure you rinse the floors and the walls with clean water. Leave the garage door open so it can dry properly. Allow the garage to air dry for 24 hours before you close the garage door again.

Deal with the Pet Supplies

Dirty pet supplies can also contribute to mold and mildew. You need to think about how you can deal with the problem. The first thing you should do is change the litter box if you have not done so. You should also clean out the kennel.

The easiest way to deal with dirty pet supplies is to take care of them the same way you take care of the rest of the living space. Clean the litter box daily, and make sure you change any bedding in the pet kennel weekly, particularly if it is used regularly. Approximately once per month, you should take the kennel outside and clean it with a hose.

If you have a hard time remembering to change the litter box, you may want to get a self-cleaning option. That way, you don’t have to worry about pet waste building up, which can otherwise contribute to mold and mildew in the garage.

These are a few of the best ways you can clean out your garage. After you are finished, it is time to think carefully about how you can prevent this issue from coming back.

How To Keep Your Garage from Smelling Bad in the Future

Storing lots of items on metal shelves in a garage
Storing lots of items on metal shelves in a garage

Now that you have gotten rid of the disgusting fumes in the garage, it is time to think about how you can protect them from coming back. There are a few ways to prevent your garage from getting smelly in the future. These include:

  • Consider How You Store Your Items: The first thing you need to do is to protect the items you store in the garage. For example, if you have a bunch of cleaning products, paint, and motor oil in the garage, you may want to store it in an airtight container. Think about getting a tupperware bin, a drawer, or a large box in which to put them. That way, you don’t have to worry about these products getting damaged, and you can prevent the fumes from permeating through the garage.
  • Improve the Insulation in the Garage: If you want to prevent dirty smells and reduce your utility bills, then you may want to consider improving the insulation in the garage. If you have experience with this, you might be able to do this on your own. If you add some insulation to the walls of the garage, you can prevent extreme temperature changes, and you can prevent water from leaking through the walls into the garage itself.
  • Fix the Bare Floor: A lot of homeowners have a bare garage floor. This means it is easy for the floor to get damp. If you put your boxes on top of a bare floor, it only makes sense that mold and mildew are going to become serious problems. You may want to consider protecting the floor of your garage with a coat of epoxy. As long as you keep it sealed, you should be able to prevent water from coming up through the floor of your garage. This is one of the most important steps you can take if you want to protect your items.
  • Get the Garage on a Regular Cleaning Schedule: Finally, you need to think about how you can get your garage on a regular cleaning schedule. You do not necessarily need to take bleach to your garage once a week, but you may want to do this once a month. You should also make sure you clean up any spills in the garage as quickly as possible. If you can find a way to get your garage on a regular cleaning schedule, you can prevent a lot of these issues from returning.

In the end, there are a lot of steps you can take if you are looking for a way to prevent mold and mildew from accumulating in the garage. Because the garage is a damp place without a lot of protection, this is a common problem people face. If you don’t clean the garage regularly, you’ll find unusual odors from time to time. Put a few of these tips to use if you want to get rid of those dirty smells in your garage.

About Charlie D Paige

Charlie is a massive DIY fan, with dozens of DIY projects under his belt - ranging from tiling to electrics, and concrete pads to walls. Charlie loves tinkering, seeing how things works, the outdoors and playing with power tools... so is it any wonder that he's completed so many DIY jobs over the years?

Charlie loves spreading his hard-won DIY experience with the world via this blog.