Bad Smell? Odor-Absorbing Paint is Only Part of the Answer

Rental houses can develop a bad smell for many different reasons. Over time, fabrics, carpets, and walls can start to give off odors you may not like. These odors may even persist through changing tenants and multiple cleanings. Still, before you assume that odor-absorbing paint is the answer, it is a good idea to first try to identify and correct the original cause of any unpleasant odors. If you don’t, your efforts could be wasted and your rental house right back to smelling bad as soon as the paint is paint being poured out of a can

Cause of Smell

So what exactly causes a rental house to smell bad? Depending on the situation, the smell could be coming from one or a combination of sources. Among the most common causes of bad smells are things like cigarette smoke, pet odors, and mold and mildew. But if your rental property is only subtly musty – commonly known as “old house” smell – it might be far more challenging to identify and correct the cause of the smell.

Mold Volatile Organic Compounds

Some houses smell musty due to mold volatile organic compounds (MVOCs), which are not the same as toxic or other strains of mold. Chemicals released by the MVOCs are not dangerous, but they can create a musty smell that never seems to go away. Leasing a property with a persistent musty smell, however minimal, will always be more challenging than a rental house that smells fresh and clean. For this reason, it is important to try to locate and eliminate the source of the mold before attempting to simply cover it up.paint roller


One of the best places to start when trying to get rid of musty odors is with a thorough cleaning. Checking for evidence of mold or mildew is an important place to start since mold growths are the most likely source of the bad smell. If you do find mold, take care to remove it completely to prevent it from coming back. It is also important to check your rental house for water leaks, condensation, or other environmental factors that encourage mold to grow and have the problems professionally repaired. If there is a lot of humidity in the house, consider installing a dehumidifier to keep moisture levels under control. Making sure the entire house is in good repair and at standard humidity levels could help make any annoying musty smells go away.

Carpets, Walls, Furniture

Other potential sources of musty smells include carpets, walls, and furniture. Remove anything with visible signs of water damage from the house and have the carpets professionally cleaned and thoroughly dried, but remember sometimes you just need to replace older flooring. Upholstered furniture items should also be professionally cleaned and checked carefully for signs of mold or mildew growth. Clean out the inside of the refrigerator and freezer, as well as inside the cabinets beneath sinks and faucets. If you haven’t had your HVAC system and air ducts cleaned in a while, it’s a good idea to bring in a professional to remove any odor-causing buildup. Finally, wipe down walls with a cleaning solution of vinegar or ammonia to eliminate odors clinging to the paint.

Odor-Absorbing Paint

If the paint is old or cleaning it simply doesn’t help eliminate the musty smell, it might be time to try odor-absorbing paint. While this type of paint does cover and absorb unpleasant odors, it should only be used after trying all other cleaning methods. Once you are sure that your rental house is clean and dry, painting with an odor-absorbing paint may be one last thing you need to create fresher indoor air quality. For more information about the best practices of property maintenance and cleaning, contact your local Real Property Management office today.

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