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Removing Musty Odors from Wood Furniture

Old wood furniture or pieces that may have been in storage can develop a musty smell. This is a guide about removing musty odors from wood furniture.

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March 31, 2010 Flag
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My wooden cupboard with dividers for trays and cookie sheets smells bad. It is a combination of rancid odor and mustiness. The odor has permeated the wooden serving trays.

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So far I have used soapy water and Lysol inside of the cabinet. We washed the wooden trays and set them out in the sunshine. We are considering rubbing them with fresh lemon juice to remove odor.
What would you suggest?

By John from Phoenix, AZ

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April 1, 20100 found this helpful
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Spray them with pine oil and water. Mix 1/4 cup in a spray bottle with water (Windex) or get one from Dollar store for a dollar. I use it all the time in kitchen, good luck.

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April 3, 20100 found this helpful
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The lemon juice won't hurt but I suggest spraying a test spot with Easy Off oven cleaner. Wait a few minutes and if you see a cleaner spot when you wipe it off you will know that your wood has absorbed grease from your years of cooking.

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April 3, 20100 found this helpful
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I would try white vinegar and water solution, perhaps mix in a few drops of dish soap. Give it a good cleaning. Then I would place white vinegar in a bowl or if the drawers are small a votive holder and leave it in overnight. (Close up the drawers when you do this.)

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July 14, 20101 found this helpful
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You might want to try this. Go to your nearest pet store and buy a package of activated charcoal (used in aquariums). Place an opened package in your cupboard overnight or longer, with the doors closed. The charcoal should absorb the odors.

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June 22, 2004 Flag
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I bought a cabinet, that is old, for my bathroom and there is a musty odor inside. I have tried baking soda and vinegar and it didn't work. Please help.

Robinson in NC

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June 23, 20040 found this helpful
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I have had luck with charcoal briquets in the back corners of a musty shelf, DO NOT use the self lighting charcoal

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October 1, 20040 found this helpful
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I have a great old wooden hutch/cabinet that was musty. I tried baking soda in a pan, then a baking soda/water paste scrub, then ground coffee and nothing worked. THEN, AHA! I sprayed the entire inside surface with cedar oil and no more musty smell! The cedar smell faded but the musty odor did NOT come back.

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April 17, 20060 found this helpful
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I found that if you put a container of Damp-Rid in your cabinet and empty often, then refill as needed with the granules, it will take out the musty smell. Try putting a clean cloth with vanilla (real extract) and it should also help. Also there is a carpet/freshener that is a powder vanilla scent that works great on carpet, could sprinkle that inside, it is made by Glade Carpet & Room deodorizer.

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June 24, 20040 found this helpful

You could stuff it full of crumpled clean old newspaper for a while. I would spray OUT on the Paper. I get this in jugs at WalMart in the pet department. It smell like vanilla extract.

I think I read somewhere that using cottonballs or wads of paper towels with vanilla extract on them would fix something like this too.

Yep, see Related Links, vanilla balls & newspaper for odor removal.

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August 3, 2011 Flag
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I am going to a little place in the country (nothing fancy, so no point in talking to the management) for a much-needed, once-a-year holiday at the end of this week. The only bedroom furniture is a very old, wooden (maybe pine, not sure) dresser. The drawers are always terribly musty-smelling; it's suffocating!

I always end up having to leave them ajar, trying to air them out (it doesn't work!), and I hate putting my clothes in there. Please help! Does anyone know how to definitely get those drawers un-mustified so I can actually use them, this year? Thanks very much in advance.

By Anna

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August 4, 20111 found this helpful

Bring along some of those products used for cancer patients to remove odors and spray drawers so room smells OK, but keep your clothes in your suitcase, just ask for a suitcase stand or set up on top of dresser. If I'm on retreat the look of the room is not the most important thing on my list. just "vegging" out. Oh yes, be sure to open the windows wide to air out the room, too. Fresh air does wonders for the soul, too.

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August 4, 20110 found this helpful

What if, weather permiting, you set the drawers outside to air out for the night when you first get there, then sprinkle them with your favorite powder, or use a dryer sheet like Pinska suggested.

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August 4, 20110 found this helpful

Charcoal, dryer sheets, baking soda, and good old free sunlight work. But like the other poster, just don't put your clothes in there. Best of luck to you on your trip!

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August 7, 20110 found this helpful

I like to buy decorative lavendar soap at stores like Marshalls or Ross and put these in my drawers to make them smell nice. You could also try febreeze in the drawers and let them dry for a few hours before putting your clothes in them. Febreeze in good for carpets, upholstery and bedding you could probably use it just fine in a dresser drawer too.

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August 6, 2013 Flag
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I have a china cabinet that smells like something died in it. What can I use to get the odor out of the wood, without damaging the wood?

By Trish

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August 7, 20130 found this helpful

Sam's Club sells a product called "OdoBan" ... this will work great to remove the odor. I had an chest that wreaked of cigarette smoke and I used it straight out of the bottle to the wood and had no damage what so ever. I've recommended the to several friends and they've all sent "thank you"s.

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November 29, 2010 Flag
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How do I get the musty odor out of an antique dresser?

By Jodi from Bay City, MI

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November 30, 20100 found this helpful

Just a starting point, but try wadding up and loosely packing black and white newspaper pages in all of the drawers and cubby holes for several days. (Don't use glossy paper pages or colored print pages.) Don't know what it is, but often this basic black on white newsprint can help absorb odors.

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