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Did you go on a short holiday only to come back and find your garage stinking? Or does your garage smell musty all the time, anyway. On a more serious note, the bad smell is just a symptom of a deeper problem in your garage. So How Can You Make Your Garage Smell Fresh As New?

There can be many sources of bad smell in your garage. You have to identify the type and the source of the bad odor first. You can only eliminate the bad smell once you know the nature of the bad smell.

How do I get rid of the Smell in my Garage?

There are eight very common types of bad smells in a garage and eight top tips to get rid of them and make your garage smell fresh again:

  1. Musty Smell
  2. Smell of Sweat
  3. Smell of Gas
  4. Chemical Smell
  5. Garbage Smell
  6. Sewer Smell
  7. Smell of Dead Animal
  8. Pet Urine Smell

The ninth tip is a no brainer!

You have to Eliminate Bad Smell from your Garage

In this post I will explain the reason for the bad smell, the steps that you can take to eliminate the bad smell from your garage and the long term solutions on How To Make Your Garage Smell Fresh As New?

How do you get the Musty Smell out of a Garage?

Musty Smell is the most common bad smell in a garage. In fact it is so common that some homeowners just accept it as normal.  

Musty smell in the garage is not normal. The musty smell comes from the mold or the mildew present and thriving in your garage. Poor ventilation and warm temperatures also aid in mold & mildew growth. 

Mold & mildew are fungus that thrive in damp, dark conditions.

Mold grows easily on cardboard & wood but can also be found on paint, wallpaper, drywall, carpet, fabric & upholstery.

The musty smell and the unsightly mold patches are a health risk as well. Mold spores can cause allergic reactions, including sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and skin rash.

When you encounter a musty smell in the garage, look for where the mold is growing. Common suspects are:

  1. Cardboard or wood storage boxes
  2. Sweaty, dirty sports gear
  3. Damp or wet garage walls
  4. Damp floors, leaking water or drain pipes

Cardboard or wood storage boxes

Replace cardboard or wood storage boxes with airtight plastic containers as far as possible. Rubbermaid Clear Cleverstore 30 QT Pack of 6 Stackable Plastic Storage Containers with Durable Latching Lids, Quart-6 Pack from Amazon are an investment well worth making.

Moreover, keep the containers off the floor by using shelving, overhead storage, slatwalls, pegboards etc. Garage floors get wet and damp quite easily. Make sure you know How To Dry Out Garage Floor Quickly After A Leak?.

Sweaty, dirty sports gear

Garage is the most convenient for the storage of sports gear or outdoor activities gear. But are you just dumping the stuff in the garage? This can cause the musty smell as mold & mildew will grow on the sweaty, wet & dirty gear. Worse it will damage your gear too!

I have written several posts on how to store sports & outdoor activity gear in a garage the right way. Check them out by visiting

Damp or wet garage walls

Did you find mold growth where the garage wall meets the floor, especially the wall that is exposed? Most likely you have a seepage problem. You should read my blog post The Best Way of How to Waterproof Your Garage Walls for solutions.

Damp floors, leaking water or drain pipes

Garage floors can be damp either because they are not sealed properly or there is improper drainage. Learn How To Make Sure Of No More Damp Garage Floors or get a Simple and Easy Guide to Best Garage Floor Drain Solutions.

Use Dehumidifiers & Garage Heaters to Keep the Garage Dry

Dehumidifiers and Garage Heating such as Radiant Garage Floor Heating can help avoid this perilous situation. You might want to get a Honeywell 30 Pint Dehumidifier w/ Optional Wi-Fi from Sylvane for your garage.

Honeywell 30 Pint Dehumidifier

These are the ways to eliminate the dampness and the bad musty smell from your garage. Your garage could smell fresh again!

Clean Up the (not so sweet) Smell of Sweat, Regularly

The smell of sweat is not much different from a musty, moldy smell. The reason is bacteria, not sweat by itself.

While sweat itself is virtually odorless, bacteria use it as a breeding ground and multiply rapidly.


If you love physical activity, you have probably got a garage gym, space for yoga or a dance floor. While you are getting your body in shape, you are sweating profusely, especially if your garage is on the warmer side. 

Actually on a hot summer day, you will be sweating, just working on your DIY project. That is if your garage is not climate controlled.

After the workout, you will go and shower and be smelling as fresh as a daisy. But what about the equipment, benches, mats & floor. If you have not cleaned them properly, they will be covered in your sweat. And that will raise a stink, sooner or later!

Useful cleaning advice for your garage gym, yoga corner or dance practice floor:

Even though you’re not sharing a yoga mat or a set of dumbbells with 10 complete strangers, you should still clean all dumbbells, kettlebells, benches, mats, and other equipment after each use.

Source: VeryWellFit

You can use wet wipes (expensive) or just spray an EPA approved disinfectant and wipe clean with a dry, microfiber cloth.

Go beyond the equipment and include items in the vicinity that you or your sweat may have come in contact with. This includes mirrors, floors, hand rails etc.

And do not forget to mop the garage gym floor too! I know you are super tired after the workout. That is where these motorized spinning mops from from Bulb Head come in very handy. Pick the one you like:

Clean up regularly for your garage to smell fresh all the time.

This simple hygiene rule of cleaning up after a workout will eliminate the smell of sweat from your garage while protecting your family & friends from infectious diseases.

What should I do if I Smell Gas in my Garage?

OK it’s a garage, so you can expect to get a whiff of gas smell once in a while. But you must start worrying if it is fairly strong and persistent.

The most likely source is of course your cars. Is the smell coming from the parking area? Is the smell more pronounced when the cars are parked in or all the time?

Gas leak from the car

If the smell is only there when the cars are in the garage, then there is a good chance they are leaking gas. You will likely see a small puddle of fuel under the car when you move it out. 

Oil Leak under the Car

Anyway get down under the car and check the fuel tank and the pipeline leading up to the engine. If you are pretty sure that your car is leaking fuel, call the car service station and have them tow it away for a thorough inspection right away.

Do not start the car!!

Gasoline is flammable & combustible. Leaking gasoline is a safety risk and should be attended to by a professional car mechanic immediately.

Other gas leaks

You may have gas leaks from other equipment too such as lawn mowers, trimmers etc. If you find the point of the leak, repair or replace the leaking seal or hose pipe. Do you store gas in your garage? Maybe the gas container cap or the vent is not properly closed. Check & correct.

Oil Spills

If you happen to spill gasoline, oil or grease on the garage floor, you need to get it off the floor as soon as possible. Sprinkle clay kitty litter over the spill and let it sit for a day. Remove and dispose. Clean up the stain with a water and soap solution using a stiff plastic brush.

Garage Drip Mat

Sometimes the smell may be coming from the garage mat under the car. The mat is there to absorb the leaks & spills. However, it has to be cleaned frequently. 

Sunlight and fresh air always help. So take the oil drip mat out on sunny days and let it have a nice sunbath on the driveway.

You can also sprinkle it with dry baking soda, work it in with a hard bristle brush and vacuum after waiting for a few hours. Baking soda will absorb the gas odor. You can also try spraying it with white distilled vinegar.

Smell of Gasoline in your Garage is smell of potential danger. Handle it with full respect and care.

How do I get rid of a Chemical Smell in my Garage?

You may be storing some chemicals that may be the source of the chemical smell in the garage.


It is quite normal to store unused portions of paint in the garage. The idea is to use it at a later date for another paint project or for touch up. 

However, if the lids are not closed tight the paint smell may permeate the garage. Worse, the cans may have overturned and the paint may have spilled out.

Always make sure that a paint can is shut tight before storage. There will be no unpleasant odors and the paint will not gel.

Lawn & Garden Chemicals

Pesticides & fertilizers used in your garden or backyard are often stored in the garage. Many of these will smell if they are in open bags, tins or bottles.

Store them in airtight plastic containers.

How can I Reduce the Garbage Smell in my Garage?

Do you keep the garbage bins in the garage, as many people do? The bins can start raising a stink in your garage especially in summer.

Kitchen waste decomposes fast as temperatures rise and the smell can become unbearable.

The garbage is also a magnet for all kinds of pests, small & big. Some of them, like flies, can carry diseases too! You have to make sure that the garbage bins in the garage do not stink. You can do this by

  • Giving the bins a good hosing down after the trash day so that no garbage residue is left sticking to the bins
  • Placing old newspapers sprinkled with baking soda powder to absorb the odor.
  • Using sturdy garbage disposable bags that can be closed tight with no possibility of leakage.
  • Use many small garbage bags rather than a few bigger bags so that you can seal the bags sooner.
  • Making your garage climate controlled. Lower temperatures & better ventilation will reduce the rate of waste decay which is the reason garbage smells.

Stay safe and make your garage smell fresh with The Energy Star-rated Coway AP-1512HH Air Purifier from Sylvane.

It is a compact, powerful and efficient air cleaner. This compact air purifier packs a powerful combination of filtration and features, enough to purify large spaces up to 326 square feet with ease.

Why does my Garage Smell of Sewage?

Sewer smell is like garbage smell, only worse! The source has to be a drain pipe which is connected to the main sewer drain. Does your garage drain connect to the sewer drain? Do you have a toilet, mudroom or laundry in the garage?

Water Trap

All drains leading to the sewer drain have a water trap. The water trap functions like a one way valve. Sewage water can flow out to the main sewage drain but the sewage smell can not waft back.

P-Water Trap

However, if the trap is not used frequently, the water can evaporate, essentially opening the trap for sewer gases to waft back into the garage. 

The solution is rather simple. Pour down some fresh water in the drain and the water trap will be restored. Mix some oil with the water. The oil will float on the water and reduce the rate of water evaporation.


It is also possible that the toilet drains in your garage have a leakage. The dirty water will leak around the drain encouraging bacteria to grow and raise a stink. 

Find the seal and fix it with caulk or sealant.


Hope you have been cleaning your grated garage drain regularly. If not it can get blocked by debris. Organic matter will accumulate in the drain and will decay and smell.

How do you get Rid of a Dead Animal Smell?

Do you smell a rat? Most likely a dead rat. All types of pests including mice, squirrels, birds and even reptiles can find a way into your garage. They may get trapped or accidentally die. Soon your garage will have the horrid smell of a decaying dead animal.

There is no easy solution. You have to find the source, dispose off the remains and clean up the spot with soap & water. 

Sometimes your car may have brought in a part of the road kill that you may have driven over. Once again, the only solution is to give the car and the parking area a good wash.

To prevent the pests, rodents and reptiles from entering the garage, make sure the garage door is weatherproofed. Always use a garage door screen, when you keep the garage door open for long.

You can get rid of common pests like flies, mosquitoes, spiders, moths and roaches from your garage. I have a blog post on each of these pests that you can check out at

I recommend the Atomic Zapper from BulbHead. This powerful device is a 2-in-1 ultrasonic pest repeller and bug zapper. It uses ultrasonic soundwaves to drive rodents crazy but doesn’t bother you and your pets. Atomic Zapper™’s blue light technology attracts and zaps flying insects. Order it by clicking on the link below:

How do I get Rid of Pet Urine Smell in my Garage?

Does your furry friend mess up sometimes? On the garage floor? Even a well trained pet may pee on the floor sometimes. Maybe it was a real emergency.

Anyway get to work as soon as you can. Mop up as much as you can using toilet paper. The longer you leave it, the more it will smell and the longer the smell will stay. Pet urine can penetrate into the garage floor and breed bacteria.

Common household detergents and soaps do not work on dog or cat pee. You must use an enzyme-based product that breaks down the bacteria in the urine and can neutralize the odor. You can get these from pet stores.

But the real preventive solution is to keep a wee pad for your pet in the garage and train them to use it.

The center of the Bullseye Pee Pad, from Bulb Head, is concentrated with scented pheromones that attract your pup to pee right in the center.

Bullseye Pee Pads are ultra-absorbent, made with a quilted material that not only absorbs but also holds in liquid. Order them by clicking the link below:

Toss soiled wee pads in the trash for easy clean-up.

Do not Ignore Basic Housekeeping, just because it’s a Garage

You must treat your garage as a part of the living space of your home. So you must apply all the practices of good housekeeping to your garage as well. These are:

  • Declutter
  • Organize
  • Proper Storage
  • Regular Cleaning
  • Use Odor absorbers 
  • Sunlight & Fresh Air
  • Climate Control

Declutter: Do not declutter your home only to clutter up your garage. The less stuff you have in your garage, the easier it will be to organize & store it.

Organize: The concept of organizing can be expressed in the phrase “a place for everything & everything in its place”

Proper Storage: Fortunately there is so much help available to help store stuff in the right way in your garage. There are also a lot of garage storage options. 

You can check online for ideas at Home Depot, CarGuyGarage , GarageSmart or

Amazon Garage Storage Ideas

Regular Cleaning: If you have a cleaning routine, then the job gets done easily. The routine should be specific to the time and activity. 

“This Sunday I am going to wash the entire garage floor” is a routine. “Someday, I will clean up” is not. You get the point!

Odor Absorbers: Air fresheners seem to be the solution in case of bad smell, but in fact they just “mask” the bad smell. 

Odor absorbers, however, will “eliminate” the bad smell in your garage. Baking Soda is very effective. Activated charcoal is good too.

Sunlight & Fresh Air: UV in sunlight will kill mold and a lot of other bacteria. Fresh air improves circulation. Together they are a natural & free way to eliminate the bad smell from your garage.

You need ventilation in a garage, just like you need ventilation in your house. If anything there are more reasons for ventilation in a garage. You need ventilation irrespective of whether the garage is insulated or uninsulated, attached or detached.

Open your garage door, (but keep the garage door screen closed) to let in sunlight & fresh air. Take garage mats etc out for a sunbath when possible.

Climate Control: You will be able to prevent many of the causes of bad smell by having a climate controlled garage. You can control temperature, humidity & air circulation which will eliminate or diffuse many of the bad smells in your garage.

May your Garage Smell Fresh as New, All the Time!

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Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and useful.

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