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Why Does My Room Smell Like Mildew?

Why does my room smell like mildew? Dorms can smell like mildew for a number of reasons.

room smells like mildew

We’ve not only taken a look at why this is below, but we’ve also run through everything you can do to combat it. Solutions to get rid of any other odors you might be dealing with are discussed as well.

Why Do Dorms Smell Like Mildew?

Mildew is a fungus that grows in humid environments. Your dorm may be very humid. This wouldn’t be surprising if there is a lack of ventilation.

Mildew is easy to spot as it’s dark in color. If you see it on the walls, you might be tempted to paint over it. This won’t get rid of it, however.

The fungi could also be growing because of a leaky pipe. It could be dampening certain parts of your wall and it’s bad for your furniture.

How Do You Make a Room Less Humid?

The fungal stench should leave if you get rid of any excess moisture. Here’s how you can do it:

Buy a Dehumidifier

Purchase a dehumidifier. It can be pricey, so split the bill with your roommate.

The device would suck up all the excess moisture in the air. It would also make the space cooler.

Open Your Windows

Something as basic as opening your window would help deal with humidity. Air would be allowed to enter and escape.

Avoid Hot Showers

If you live in a suite, there would be a bathroom attached.  Don’t take hot showers. Steam would collect.

Fix Your Exhaust Fans

Make sure the exhaust fans in your dorm are working well. There may be dust and debris blocking them. Ventilation would be restricted.

Stay Cool

Stay cool. Any sweat evaporating would add to the humidity.

Be Wary of House Plants

House plants would make your dorm feel fresher. However, they also produce their fair share of moisture.

Why Do College Dorms Smell Bad?

Dealing with humidity can help tackle mildew. However, this isn’t the only reason why a dorm can smell.


Pests may be leaving behind a stench. This would especially be bad if you have mice. You don’t have to get rid of the pests yourself. Inform campus housing; they would do the job for you.

Old Wood

How old is the furniture in your room? Old wood gives off a funky smell.

Unclean Bathrooms

You may be lucky and have a bathroom attached to your dorm. If it’s not well taken care of, however, there would be a strong sulfur stench coming from the pipes.


Body odor, dead skin cells, and oils get trapped in any fabric that you’ve used. Make sure to regularly wash them. Know that some fabrics absorb more odors than others.

The best fabrics to wear are natural fibers. They’re light, so they wouldn’t trap as many scents. What’s great is that they’re also comfortable.

Rotten Food

Always eat in the dining hall. Crumbs and food particles could get all over the place if you eat in your room. They can go bad and smell.

Eating in your room even if you clean up any crumbs might not be a good idea. The aroma of your food may be strong and could attract ants. Dorms don’t have the best ventilation, so the odors would get trapped as well.


Being a college student means that you have a hectic schedule. You probably don’t have enough time to clean your room. Dust would get collected over time. There would be a “mushroom-like” smell in the air.

If there is good ventilation, you won’t have to clean as much. Dirt and debris would automatically exit through the vents.

Is there an AC in your room? You would have hit the jackpot, as many of them come with air filters.

Here’s a tip:

When dusting, go from top to the bottom. This would prevent any dirt from spreading out.

Also read:

How Can You Make a Dorm Smell Good?

Burn Incense

Burning incense is a fire hazard. However, if you’re allowed to have incense, get some. It would do an excellent job of masking odors. A bonus is that burning incense has a calming effect. This is why it’s used in aromatherapy.

Melt Wax

You won’t be allowed to use candles in your room. Maybe you can guess why. A wax burner would be the next best alternative.

Wax can be bought in various scents and types. As it burns, an aroma would be released. Go for a wax type that would be calming.

Essential Oil Diffuser

An essential oil diffuser is something campus housing won’t have a problem with. It doesn’t have an open flame or heating element.

You can place essential oils in it, and the scent would waft around.

The diffusers also look good. You can keep them on your desk.

Air Freshener

Does your dorm smell bad? An air freshener would mask odors in an instant. Be mindful of how much you spray, though. Air fresheners can be strong.

Scented Trash Bags

Do you find that you don’t have time to regularly take the trash out? Purchase scented trash bags. They’re freely available and don’t cost much.

Spray Perfume

Perfume would work just as well as air fresheners. You might prefer spraying perfume instead, as the scent won’t be as strong. Your clothes would also smell great.


Having many plants in a tiny space would result in high humidity levels. Some plants have fragrant flowers. Purchase a few of them. The odors would be masked, and the space would look homely.

Can You Change Your College Dorm?

The odors in your room may be too strong to fix with the above suggestions. The only thing left to do is to request a room change. If you just moved in, it should be easy for your RA to swap you with someone else.

Is there a lot of mold and mildew in your dorm? Not only would you be dealing with funky smells, but your respiratory health would also be affected. Moreover, inhaling certain types of molds can cause neurological problems.

Inform campus housing if you are dealing with mold. You would at least be temporarily shifted until the mildew is eradicated.

Remember how we mentioned that this could be because of a pipe leak? It might be in your roof. Inform campus housing, as there is a chance that your roof could collapse.

You can also move if you’re dealing with pests. Cockroaches are more common than mice. An ant infestation would be classed as pests as well.

You’ll be dealing with a mildew stench if there is a lot of moisture in the air. The humidity may be due to a lack of ventilation. An easy fix would be to open your windows. Another thing that could help is making sure your exhaust fans are working. There could be dust trapped in them which is why air can’t enter or escape.

There are many things you could do to handle the odors in your room. The best would be to purchase a dehumidifier. It would make the space cooler, so you don’t have to blast your AC either. If you can, get hold of an essential oil diffuser. The scents from the oils can be calming.