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Most basements have an unmistakable odor. Damp air, Mold, mildew and poor ventilation are just some of the factors contributing to this unattractive, yet familiar odor. If you use your basement for storage, this odor can permeate into clothes, books and other items. Instead of living with the smell, why not take steps to prevent or remove it?
In most cases the culprit is dampness plus poor airflow in the basement. Once it's dried out and ventilated your problem should be solved.
If puddles in the basement are the norm after a good rainstorm, you'll want to take steps to prevent this. Seal up cracks in the walls and paint walls and floors with waterproofing. It's probably a good idea to walk the perimeter of your house to check for drainage issues as well. If you see anything that can cause water to enter your basement, make the necessary repairs. You also might want to look into installing a sump pump if you haven't already done so.
Once you've located the source of your moisture problems, open the windows and air out the basement. Bring in fans to help get the air flowing. This would be a good time to invest in a basement dehumidifier as well.
After all the moisture is removed from the air, it's time to work on the odor. Remove any soggy boxes or moldy containers and throw them away. If clothing has taken on the mildewy basement smell, they'll need a good wash and dry. Other items that accumulated an odor will need to be taken outside and aired out in the sun for a day or two. If mold and mildew are evident, either throw the items away or give them a good scrubbing with bleach and water. A cup of bleach to a gallon of water should be enough in this case.
Remove any window treatments and give them a good cleaning as well. Curtains can be tossed into the washing machine, while blinds can be given a good hosing in the backyard.
With everything removed, it's time to contemplate the rest of the basement. What is the condition of the floor? If there are rugs, these may need to be removed and discarded, or at least given a good washing. It's up to you to decide if it's worthwhile to save them or not. Cement floors should be given a good washing with your bleach solution. If you feel it necessary, clean the walls as well. If the smell has permeated into outdated wood paneling, you may want to consider removing it.
The key to an odor-free basement is to keep it dry and airy. Keep a dehumidifier going constantly and open the windows as often as possible. If water comes into the basement, locate and deal with the problem immediately. Soon, basement odors will no longer be an issue.
Can you tell me where I can buy this room shocker? thanks
All the suggestions above are great. However, I did all those things and still had an odor problem the odors come from mold and mildew. After spending a small fortune in speaking to many experts, I came to find out that Sometimes the mold and mildew is embedded into the wood beams or the walls of the basement. Then after all that my 20-year-old sister-in-law recommended A product called Room Shocker that she used to eliminate pet odors, in her apartment. To think I could've saved myself all that time and money. It completely eradicated the problem. This product releases a vapor that penetrates all porous materials and kills mold and bacteria, and by doing so illuminates the odor. I highly recommend it. It'll save you a lot of grief in time not mention money.