December 26


Why Bedrooms Smell Musty In The Morning

By Robin Hatch

December 26, 2019

Homeowners who sleep with their windows closed may wake up to a musty or bad smell in the morning. Multiple things cause this musty and foul smell in the morning. But why do bedrooms smell bad in the morning?

Bedrooms smell bad in the morning due to bad breath, body odor, dust, and infrequent changing of sheets or pillowcases. This leaves a foul odor that remains in the air.

This is common among homeowners who have smaller bedrooms, where the air circulation is poor.

We’re going to break down the many reasons why there is a musty smell in the bedroom and what you can do to prevent the foul smell.

For a full guide on cleaning your bedroom, read here.

Why Bedrooms Smell Bad In The Morning

Mold Or Mildew

One of the main reasons bedrooms may smell bad in the morning is the mold or mildew growing behind your walls.

If you’re someone who spills many drinks, be sure to check in any of the dark places near where you’ve spilled your drinks.

Wet, dark areas are the breeding ground for mold and mildew. We also recommend checking in closets or behind walls if any mold is growing.

This could be caused by pipes leaking, and mold can grow over time.

Bad Breath

If your bedroom is in a smaller room, big enough to fit a queen bed, a dresser, and a nightstand, the CO2 that you breathe will circulate in the room as you’re sleeping.

A combination of the bedroom door being closed and the windows being closed will cause the CO2 (which comes from your breath) to remain in the room longer.

Naturally, our breath overnight is filthy and isn’t pleasant to smell. Circulating this bad breath throughout a bedroom is one cause of the musty smell in the morning.

The foul smell is trapped in the room until the morning when it’s released into the hallway when the door is open.

To release this foul smell, crack a window, or leave a door open so the air can circulate properly throughout the bedroom.

Body Odor

When we sleep, our bodies naturally repair damaged skin and regulate themselves to normality.

What’s leftover from this process is often dead skin cells, natural oils the body secretes, and a light sweat that the body gives off to regulate body temperature.

Person smelling a musty bedroom

The unfortunate results of regulating body temperature and producing sweat are body odor. Body odor is the byproduct of sweat over a long period.

Because our body is sleeping for 6-8 hours, there’s nothing we can do about the body odor smell.

Consistently sweating and building up bacteria will give off a musty smell in the bedroom if nothing is done with the bedroom sheets or mattress.

Dirty Sheets & Pillows

Due to the high volume of sweating, especially during the summer nights with no air conditioning or bundled up in a dozen blankets.

We refer to dirty sheets as bed sheets that haven’t been cleaned in 2 weeks or more.

Cleaning bed sheets is a large part of eliminating lousy odors and musty smells from your bedroom.

Our pillowcase is another catch-all for oils, dead skin, and bedsheets.

Frequently washing the pillowcase and bed sheets together are essential to keeping a room smelling fresh.

Another known source of the musty smell is the mattress. It’s hard to throw away a bed, especially if the person sleeping on it is getting quality sleep.

Mattresses absorb sweat and oils, but unfortunately, you’re unable to wash an entire bed.

If you’ve had your mattress for over five years, it’s safe to assume there are five years’ worth of sweat, oils, and dead skin accumulating on the surface and within the mattress.

If two people are sleeping in the bed, there’s double the amount of sweat, oils, and dead skin on the mattress.

Dirty Floor Or Carpet

If your sheet-cleaning habits are relatively clean, the following item to look at is the carpet. If you don’t have a rug, feel free to skip the next section.

Carpets accumulate dirt, dust, and bacteria from clothes over time. Even a well-kept and clean rug can have some flaws. Often when we vacuum, we miss spots near or under the bed.

The dirty carpet will start to give off an odor, leading to foul smells in the bedroom.

It’s in your best interest to get a new rug every 6-8 years to maintain freshness in the bedroom and fight the musty smell.

Dirty Clothes On The Ground

The next and probably most apparent foul smell is the dirty or sweaty clothes kept in the room.

If you work an outdoor job, there’s a good chance that leaving clothes in a dirty hamper will start to leave a musty smell.

Consistently washing and removing dirty smells from the bedroom will eliminate any build-up of a musty odor, especially if you like to sleep with your door and window closed.

We recommend removing work clothes from the bedroom immediately after work to eliminate musty smells from accumulating.

Food Or Drink Spills

Our last option and another common reason for bedrooms to have musty smells is leftover food and drink.

If you like to eat food in your bedroom, whether it be on the desk or your bed, crumbs, and food smells can start to accumulate.

To eradicate this odor, we recommend checking under your bed and the mattress to see if any food has spilled.

Often the smallest of crumbs will accumulate and give off a foul odor.

We recommend never eating in bed and having a small desk or something to eat if you must eat in the bedroom.

Pets Or Animals

Pets and animals can also be a reason for a musty smell in the bedroom.

If a cat, dog, or even a mouse has gone to the bathroom in your bedroom, you must locate and clean it as soon as possible.

Urine that is leftover time will develop a musty smell that is hard to get rid of, especially if the room’s windows and doors are consistently closed.

Homeowners who allow pets to sleep on their beds remember that the dog or cat may have been rolling around in the dirt, mud, or even poop all day.

They bring that dirtiness to your bed as your body tries to rest and recover.

It may be in your best interest to have the dog sleep on the floor or outside the bedroom while you rest and recover.

How To Eliminate Smells From Your Bedroom

Here is a list of ideas that will help eliminate the dirty bedroom smell you get in the morning.

Open Windows

Fresh air helps bring a fresh aroma into the room.

Rooms that are consistently closed trap and circulate the dirty air in the room.

We recommend cleaning your room and letting the windows open for 10-15 minutes daily to circulate fresh air. This will help eliminate the musty smells and bring fresh air to your bedroom.

Buy Air Fresheners

If musty smells persist and you’ve done all you can to change the sheets, we recommend purchasing an air freshener.

These fresheners are small, cheap, and make the room look like new.

Our pick for air fresheners is Air Wick’s Plugin Scented Oils.

These can be found here on Amazon for a relatively low price.

The Air Wick combination pack has two warmers that plug directly into the wall and the air fresheners.

Gel Beads

Gel beads are a great alternative if you’re looking for a more straightforward solution that doesn’t require power.

This two-pack of gel beads is perfect for eliminating musty smells and leaving your bedroom smelling fresh every morning.

Made by Clear Air, their odor-neutralizing gel beads are great for any room in the house.

Place the container on your nightstand or bureau and let the gel beads illuminate your room with clean air.


If you have a musty smell in your room, the first order of action is to get clean air flowing.

Open a window or a door to see if that fixes the issue.

If the musty smell still prevails, washing the sheets and pillowcases or getting a new mattress would be the next action to remove the scent.

Next, we recommend checking the carpet or rug for any lingering smells.

Ensure no food or drinks are left over underneath or beside the bed.

Last, check for dog residue or bathroom droppings to ensure no smell.

If the smell persists, try sleeping with the animal outside of the bedroom for a few nights and see if it makes a difference.

Bedrooms should be clean, as it’s the place for our bodies to rest, recover, and restore health.

We’ve compiled a complete list of frequently asked bedroom questions for new and experienced homeowners.

Our team of experts answers these questions to help assist you through DIY projects and home repairs.

Robin Hatch

About the author

For over a decade, Robin has been a real estate agent, interior design specialist, and mother. Through her trials and tribulations, she wanted to create the perfect website to help you save money and make your home look beautiful.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}