How to Identify Mold Through Scent

A woman looks at mold.

Knowing how to identify mold can help one control it at an early stage. The growth of mold affects the health of people as well as the maintenance of a house. Identifying mold through scent is the first step in detecting and fighting off the mold. However, smell cannot be used as the only way of detecting molds. There are some types of molds which do not have any odor. Such molds can be identified only through visible signs or mold test kits.

Step 1 - Check for Reactions on Entering the Room

The nose will identify the mold before anything else. If there’s mold inside the house, you may experience sneezing or nose irritation on entering the room.

Step 2 - Check for Musty, Earthy Smells

If the house has some unpleasant smells which never seem to go away, there is a possibility that there is mold. It is difficult to recognize the smell of mold for those who haven’t experienced it before, but once familiar, it is difficult to forget this smell. Molds give a musty, earthy odor. It smells similar to the smell which one experiences while walking through a dense forest. Mold odor is quite unpleasant. It is similar to the smell of rotten wood or paper. Some say the smell of mold is similar to cedar while others compare it to the smell of wet socks. Mold gives off the smell of there being something moist in the room.

Step 3 - Recognize the Smell

When there is mold growth inside the house, there is a continuous smell which doesn’t fade even after opening all the windows and ventilating the rooms. People easily get used to the smell of mold. When suspecting mold at home, it is better to first go outdoors, take in some fresh air to clear your nostrils, and then come back to the room and experience the smell. If there is some musty smell at home, start looking for the areas which have mold growth.

Step 4 - Follow the Nose and Spot the Location

Follow your nose to detect the areas where mold has grown. Once the smell is detected, go in the direction where the smell is increasing. Stop at the place where the smell is the most intense. Mold is somewhere around the area where the intense smell is felt. Look around for any visible signs of mold. Molds emerge as spotted areas and may vary in colors. Mold generally appears black, white, grey-brown, grey-green, orange, purple, pink, or greenish black. You may need to use a flashlight to see in darkened corners and behind furniture.

Some forms of molds are not easily visible and hence it is advisable to use a flashlight to inspect areas that may be very dark. The areas which are a must to inspect for mold are moist and damp areas since mold generally grows with moisture. Check water pipes, sinks, supply valves, the carpet, floors and other areas with water leakages. Check for a musty smell in the attic, furniture, and also boxes or bags containing old newspapers and clothes. If they give out a musty smell, have a thorough check to see if they have any mold growth.