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Here’s Why Bedrooms Get Musty And Smell Bad In The Morning

For homeowners that sleep with their windows closed, they may wake up to a musty or bad smell in the morning. This musty and bad smell in the morning is caused by multiple things.

Bedrooms have musty smells in the morning due to bad breath, body odor from sweating throughout the night, and infrequent changing of sheets or pillowcases.

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 smell.

Why Do Bedrooms Smell Bad In The Morning?

CO2 & 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 the room as you’re sleeping. A combination of the bedroom door being closed, along with the windows being closed, will cause the CO2 (which comes from your breath) to remain in the room longer.

Naturally, our breath overnight is grungy and isn’t pleasant to the smell. Circulating this bad breath throughout a bedroom is one cause of the musty smell in the morning. The bad smell is trapped in the room until the morning when it’s released into the hallway when the door is open.

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

Natural Body Odor

When we sleep, our bodies naturally repair damaged skin and try to regulate itself back 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 trying to regulate body temperature.

Person smelling a musty bedroom

In the process of your body regulating body temperature and producing sweat, the unfortunate results are body odor. Body odor is the byproduct of sweat over a long period of time. 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 start to give off a musty smell in the bedroom, if nothing is done with the bedroom sheets or mattress.

Dirty Sheets Pillows & Mattress

Due to the high volume of sweating, especially during the summer nights with no air conditioning or bundled up in a dozen blankets, it’s common to have dirty sheets and 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 bad odor and musty smells from your bedroom.

Along with the bedsheets, our pillowcase is another catch-all for oils and dead skin. Frequently washing the pillowcase and bed sheets together are essential to keeping a room smelling fresh.

Another known source for musty smell is the mattress. It’s hard to throw away a mattress, especially if the person or people sleeping on it is getting quality sleep. Mattresses absorb sweat and oils as well, but unfortunately, you’re unable to wash an entire mattress.

If you’ve had your mattress for over 5 years, it’s safe to assume there are 5 years worth of sweat, oils, and dead skin accumulating on the surface and within the mattress. If there are two people sleeping in the bed, there’s double the amount of sweat, oils, and dead skin in the mattress as well.

Dirty Room Or Carpet

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

Carpets accumulate dirt, dust, and bacteria from clothes overtime. Even a well kept and clean rug can have some flaws. Often times when we vacuum, we miss spots near or under the bed. The dirty carpet will start to give off an odor which will lead to bad 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

The next, and probably most obvious smell is the dirty or sweaty clothes that are 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 on your bed, crumbs and food smells can start to accumulate. In order to remove this odor completely, we recommend checking under your bed, as well as the mattress to see if any food as spilled under.

Often times the smallest of crumbs will accumulate and give off a foul odor. We recommend never eating in the 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 the bathroom in your bedroom, it’s important that you 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 bed, remember that the dog or cat may have been rolling around in dirt, mud, or even poop all day long. 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.

Ways To Eliminate Musty Smells

Here is a list of air fresheners that you can use to eliminate the must smells.

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 leave the room smelling good as new.

Our pick for air fresheners is Air Wick’s Plugin Scented Oils. These can be found here on Amazon for a relatively cheap price.

Along with the air fresheners, the Air Wick combination pack comes with 2 warmers that plug directly into the wall.

Gel Beads

If you’re looking for a more simple solution that doesn’t require power, gel beads are a great alternative.

This two-pack of gel beads is perfect to eliminate musty smells and leave your bedroom smelling fresh every morning.

Made by Clear Air, their odor neutralizing gel beads are great for any room in the house. Simply 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, pillowcase, or getting new mattress would be the next action item to remove the smell.

Next, we recommend checking the carpet or rug for any lingering smells. Make sure there’s no food or drinks leftover underneath or next to the bed.

Last, check for any dog residue or bathroom droppings to ensure there’s no smell. If the smell continues to persist, 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.

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