Mold produces gasses called microbial volatile organic compounds (MVOCs). Some are odorless, but some smell like what we usually associate with mold. We call it “musty,” but that’s not real descriptive. In fact, it’s a very difficult odor to describe. So here are the attempts people have made, and you may get at least an inkling of what it smells like.

· The earthy, damp, loamy smell of the forest (but without the continual flow of fresh air in the forest)

· The smell of dirt covered by decaying leaves

· Wet, dirty socks and/or a grungy locker room

· Stale, like old books or any papers improperly stored for a long time

· Old cheese

· Wet dog

One thing is for sure: We cannot infer from those descriptions that the smell is pleasant or even neutral. But that’s not a bad thing. Often, the smell is the only, or the first, sign that our homes have been invaded by mold.

If you really must know first-hand what mold smells like, the next time you do laundry, leave the washed clothes in the washer for a day or so. That’s the smell of mold. You will need to rewash the clothes.


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