How To Get Rid Of Musty Smell in Hotel Room?

Sometimes you check into a nice hotel, get a beautiful room, and everything seems great.

But then you realize the room has an unpleasant, musty smell that you can’t figure out where it’s coming from. 

So how do you get rid of that musty, gross smell in your hotel room?

There are quite a few ways to freshen up your hotel room, from opening the window and letting in fresh air to air fresheners and home remedies. You can try to solve the problem on your own, ask for additional cleaning of the room, or even ask for a completely new room for your stay.

Best Ways to Get Rid of that Musty Smell

If you walk into your hotel room and it smells bad, you may want to just consider asking for another room. Sometimes you can’t fix or cover up the smells that have been absorbed into the carpet or are coming through the vents. 

If there aren’t any other rooms or you don’t want to change rooms, ask for some extra cleaning. Make sure the linens are changed and the carpet gets cleaned well and see if that changes the smell of the room. 

Also, check that there aren’t wet towels laying in the bathroom and ask for a fresh comforter!

You can also open the window (if physically possible) to let in some fresh air. The bad smell could be coming from outside and opening the window will either let you know where it’s coming from or get the stale air out of the room. 

If your first few options don’t work, you can always try to freshen up the room yourself. If you know what you’re doing, making your hotel room smell pleasant and fresh is a pretty easy process. 

Air fresheners are one of the easiest and fastest remedies to a musty smell in your room. You can buy an aerosol can and spray it around the room to mask the smell, use a plug-in, or even hang car scents around the room. 

You could also take some perfume or air freshener and spray it onto cotton balls. These can be placed strategically around the room and inside drawers to help freshen up the area. 

If you plan ahead, bring some dryer sheets with you on your trip. You can spread them around your room to help alleviate the musty smell, though this is a slower method than aerosol air fresheners.

A humidifier or air purifier can help get rid of odors if you travel with one. It’ll remove dust and impurities from the air, but it will also help get rid of bad smells. 

De-odorizers are another way to help rid the room of bad smells. Vinegar, baking soda, or a deodorant powder can be placed around the room to soak up the odor. 

All of these small tricks can help get rid of musty smells, but if it persists you should consider changing rooms or hotels. 

What causes a musty smell in a hotel room?

Bad odors in hotel rooms can be caused by a wide range of things. 

Some hotels don’t have great ventilation in their rooms and have sealed windows.

Odors can linger much longer in stale, non-moving air and build up to that bad smell you notice when you walk in.

Try running the air conditioning or leaving your door open to get some circulation.

The air conditioner could also be the cause of the smell.

Mold buildup in the unit can lead to a musty smell.

Make sure it’s blowing air and then lean in to smell it. If the smell is stronger, the AC unit could be what is causing the smell. 

The carpet holds odors incredibly well, no matter how often it gets cleaned.

The normal traffic through a hotel room can lead to the carpet being the culprit behind the musty smell in your hotel room. 

The musty smell is an indicator of possible mold or mildew in the room.

This can be caused by the room not being rented out recently and humidity building up in the room. 

Can a musty hotel room make you sick?

It is possible to get sick in a musty hotel room.

The bad smells are usually an indicator of mold or mildew and could point to something in the room being a breeding ground for bacteria. 

Stale air or air contaminated with mold can make people sick in general, but if you’re sensitive to air quality this can be even worse for you. 

Coughing, sneezing, sore throat, congestion, dizziness, and headaches are all possible symptoms you may end up experiencing. Staying in a room with mold or mildew can lead to respiratory infections as well. 

Always bring along antibacterial wipes and wipe down the surfaces in your hotel room.

Just because it’s been cleaned by the staff doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of bacteria left on things like the bathroom counters, TV remote, or phone. 

Is it safe to stay in a hotel now (post-pandemic)?

For the most part, it’s perfectly safe to stay in a hotel. The one upside to the pandemic is that hotels have upped their game with cleaning and sanitizing policies before guest check-in. 

You may not get daily housekeeping, but the rooms are cleaned much more thoroughly before you check-in than they were before. 

If you’re vaccinated and don’t spend much time in lobby areas, your risk of infection is low. Your room is separated from the other rooms and there isn’t much ventilation between rooms to carry viruses and bacteria. 

If you’re concerned about getting sick while at your hotel, continue to wear a mask while indoors and not in your room, and avoid areas like the pool, hot tub, or breakfast bar. 


You can bring along air fresheners or deodorizers to help get rid of a musty smell in your hotel room. If the smell persists, open the windows to let in some fresh air, request additional cleaning, and change out the linens and towels. 

If you don’t feel comfortable staying in your room, you can always request a new room or change hotels.