Cleaning Odors from Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets can harbor odors either from their contents or from cooking. This is a guide about cleaning odors from kitchen cabinets.
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1 found this helpful
September 20, 2010 Flag

Our house has oak cabinets in the kitchen. It is not particle board. There is a strange smell like "old" wood if that makes sense, coming from all the cabinets. It doesn't smell like mildew and I've checked the flooring below and it's fine, no signs of water damage. Any ideas to clean this or get rid of the smell?

By Anna from WI

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful
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I think I know what you mean. I bought a sideboard at an auction sale that had an "old" smell. I used dishes of baking soda, coffee grounds, and put in eucalyptus. I wasn't really happy with any of those, but they all helped. Additionally, I would try activated charcoal, and maybe washing out the inside with baking soda and water, or perhaps vinegar and water. (Don't mix the two.) Eventually, I re-sold the sideboard, so it became some one else's problem.

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September 22, 20100 found this helpful
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Try siting a few dishes of vinegar in the cabinets, or, polish them inside and out with a very good lemon furniture polish or oil.

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September 23, 20100 found this helpful
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I had the same problem and I sprinkled baking soda on the floor of the cabinets and left it there for a month or more. You can wipe it out and add more if you still notice the smell. After that treatment if you still have a smell, paint or varnish the interior of the cabinet.

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July 31, 20130 found this helpful
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We bought a home built in 1978 and had the same problem. Since there were many cabinets the cost of replacement was out of the question. I used a 10% bleach to 80% water spray to clean them out. After letting them dry thoroughly (overnight) I painted them with a high gloss paint no primer needed. I recommend using two coats. The cabinets smell fresh and look nice inside.

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0 found this helpful
September 26, 2014 Flag

I moved into an old house and I washed my cabinets out and lined the shelf and add the dishes. When I get out a bowl or cup it smells like old wood. I can't stand to drink from a cup. What can I do? Thank you.

By Darla

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September 27, 20140 found this helpful
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Try putting down stick on laminate tiles. I used the cheap ones with a glossy finish. They might block the smell from coming through and they're very easy to clean.

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September 27, 20140 found this helpful
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There's something you can get at Staples called "Air Sponge." It's just a canister. You remove the lid and put it in the cabinet and it helps remove the odor. You might try it. I like the idea of the laminate tiles, but they might not work unless you deodorize a bit first. Good luck.

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September 29, 20140 found this helpful

Did you try putting a container of baking soda in the cabinets? If you can, maybe you can wash inside cabinets with a baking soda and water solution to see if that helps. Good luck.

Terri

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September 29, 20140 found this helpful

I have not tried this, but I've heard that bowls of charcoal briquettes (unused) helps eliminate odors. It's worth a try.

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1 found this helpful
June 11, 2004 Flag

We had a can of crab meat (2lbs)explode in our kitchen cabinet, shooting something akin to wasabe mash potatoes throughout cabinet. The smell is unbelievable!



I was wondering if this is health hazard, and how to remove smell? cleaned as best we could with bleach, but it got into joints of cabinet.

Any ideas?

Thank,

jbm

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June 12, 20040 found this helpful
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WOW what a mess. First try and get the the crab out of the nooks and crannies with a tooth brush, dipped in baking soda, I would have sujested white vinegar, but not sure you should mix it with any bleach products. if you have other canned food items in the cabinet, check any paper labels as it might have been caught in the misfire. That could be causing your smell. if the cabinet is empty set a bowl of white vinegar in the cabinet over night. Good Luck!

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June 14, 20040 found this helpful

White vinegar (clear) and salt helps cut the fish smell

I would then use water and baking soda to rinse it good and air dry.

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June 15, 20040 found this helpful

Also check to make sure you wiped it off of anything else that was in the cabinet.

We live in Alaska and use fish a lot and many times we will suddenly have a rotten fish smell in the kitchen. I have to do a thorough cleaning job with Clorox Clean-up or bleach and usually it is because something that had fish in it, like a baking dish that was sat on the counter next to the sink got fish juice around the edge of the sink or on the countertop in an area that doesn't get wiped on a daily basis, etc. Or just from opening the package of fish, fish oil or fish juice can spray up on the cabinet, etc. and leave an odor.

You may also want to try lemon juice.

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May 25, 20070 found this helpful

help: I need some advice about getting the rotten fish juice out of my car seat as soon as possible. I can hardly stand to drive my car.

thanks

toby from nova scotia

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0 found this helpful
October 13, 2011 Flag

How do you get rid of rat odor or the smell of the poop that has been removed? The smell is where my cooking pans and cake dishes are stored and in the drawers. I have tried all the different refreshing sprays. I have even used bleach in the drawers, under the last drawer, and even on the shelves that are connected to the drawers. I wash the shelves, walls, and drawers. Nothing is helping. Someone help please?

By Georgett

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October 14, 20110 found this helpful
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Take the drawer out of the cabinet and sit it outside in the sun. I had to do this with some wood working boards and it works. Murphy's oil soap may take care of the other smell.

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October 14, 20110 found this helpful

Also try sitting a cup of vinger in there to set for a few days.

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October 16, 20110 found this helpful

Setting a tub of charcoal helps, as well as sitting a bowl of ammonia (the lemon scented kind works well), but make sure that children and pets don't have access to it, and keep the windows open while the ammonia is out.

Hope you find something that works!

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0 found this helpful
June 17, 2005 Flag

There was a really bad odor from my kitchen and I couldn't find out where it was from. Until one day, I found out that I had some rotten onion inside the cupboard, under the stove.

The rotten onion was pretty disgusting, some liquid came out and it had a very intense odor. I immediately cleaned that up, wiped the inside of the cupboard with different types of detergent and cleaning fluid. I thought it was cleaned, but the smell stays.

I think some of the liquid from those rotten onions seeped through the wood, and that's why the smell stays.

Please give me some advice on how to get rid of that odor. Every time I opened the door of that cupboard, I felt that I was going to throw-up.

Single Guy

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June 17, 20050 found this helpful
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Try using some vinegar to wash it with, leaving some in the wood (not wiping it totally dry). If that doesnt' work, try sealing the wood with varnish, top and bottom side.

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June 19, 20050 found this helpful
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You need to get an oxygen based cleaner. It's natural & it will kill any odor, even in wood.

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June 17, 20050 found this helpful

You could try putting a few charcoal briquets on the spot that smells, I know this works in a refrigerator freezer, our electricty went off and I had some meat to go go bad and someone told me about the charcoal, maybe this will work for you. I would like to know if it works for you.

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January 26, 2016 Flag

I bought a brand new RV this summer and I noticed a weird smell in the cabinets. I thought it would go away, but it stayed. When I closed up the RV for the winter I brought some food home and put it away in my kitchen. Now my kitchen cupboard smells the same as the RV even though I threw out the food and used vinegar, baking soda, and Mr. Clean. The smell is still there. Help!

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January 19, 2013 Flag

For about 2 weeks now I have had this horrible smell on the outside of my kitchen cabinet and on the tile floor right next to it. It is almost like something spilled on the counter and dripped on the cabinet and onto the floor. I tried vinegar, soda, Clorox wipes and nothing worked so far. Any ideas?

By mottomb

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September 5, 2010 Flag

May of this year, we moved into a house that had had only one other family living there. My problem is that my kitchen cabinets have an odd smell. I thought it would go away once my stuff was in there, but it hasn't. Any ideas on how to get rid of the smell? I tried washing out with vinegar, but that didn't work.

By Raelene from Clarksville, TN

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September 5, 2010 Flag

I've been in my home for almost two years. The house is about 13 years old. But there is a unpleasant odor when I open my kitchen cabinets. I have the same type of cabinets in my bathrooms, but they don't smell. Just the ones in the kitchen at the bottom and top, close to the sink area. How do I get rid of this odor?

Tam from Memphis, TN

Answers:

Smell Coming From Kitchen Cabinets

You may have something behind your wall, so the smell might keep coming back. But the following recipe will really help!

To get rid of the odor take a few shallow bowls of white vinegar. Put the bowls in your cupboards with the doors shut overnight. This will take the smell away.

To keep smell away. Take an old nylon or an old T-shirt cut into squares. Fill with equal parts borax and baking soda. Tie string around. Hang these up with thumb tacks or hooks in a several places in your cupboards. This will help absorb odors. You need to change these about every month or so (when the smell comes back, just repeat the vinegar and borax/baking soda tricks)

You can also put a few cottonballs with a drop or 2 of oil of wintergreen on them in your cupboard if you are not storing open boxed foods in the cupboard (the smell can get into the boxes and affect the taste of foods). If your cupboard is used for dishes or canned goods, etc. then the oil of wintergreen smells great and is natural.

To help absorb moisture as well as odor open a box of white chalkboard chalk and place in cupboard. (These hints for removing odor also work great for the trunk of your car or in old dresser drawers!)

Try this for odors on your hands after cutting onion or garlic, or for use on a smelly cutting board, or inside plastic storage containers. Use about a half a teaspoon of dried mustard. Rub on wet hands and wash off. For plastic food containers: Put a bit into water, leave a while or overnight. For cutting board smells, sprinkle on sponge and wipe on cutting board, leave a little while, wash off well. This will make your hands and everything else smell fresh as a daisy! Note: Wash every bit of mustard off, and do not get into eyes, as this is hot! (This is the same mustard that is used with Chinese pork with sesame seeds. The kind that opens your sinuses!)

Fish Odors: When cooking fish, fill a shallow bowl with white vinegar and place next to pan with fish. This will stop fried fish from smelling up the house! White vinegar is nature's odor remover. Amazing! (08/26/2006)

By Cyinda

Smell Coming From Kitchen Cabinets

I had a smell coming from only 2 of my kitchen cabinets, and not the others on the lower half of the cabinets. Come to find out, after pulling the floor up, which needed repair, there was a water leak, and water had seeped in slowly, and made the smell. Repairing the cabinet floor and repairing where the water leaked under it, took care of all the problem, hope this helps. (08/26/2006)

By Glinda

Smell Coming From Kitchen Cabinets

If the sink has ever leaked, the smell might be mildew and mold. If you've ever had mice, one might have died back there. I would pull everything out, grab a flashlight and do some serious detective work. (08/26/2006)

By Cheryl from MO

Smell Coming From Kitchen Cabinets

Is it possible that you have a rotten potato or onion, or a dead mouse in the back of the cabinet? (08/26/2006)

Smell Coming From Kitchen Cabinets

I have the same problem. I opened my cabinets and found mildew forming on the inside of the cabinet doors and in the back corners of the cabinets. I am going to buy Kilz and do a good cleaning and paint job. This is cheaper than buying new kitchen cabinets. (10/05/2007)

By Debbie

Smell Coming From Kitchen Cabinets

I have the same problem. We cleaned out the cabinet, full of plastic ware and nothing there. It smells like dead fish. I finally realized that my older dog has had several "accidents" right there beside the cabinet. I had cleaned it up, of course, and thought it was done. I have now decided that the urine must have been able to somehow flow beneath the cabinet and after several days had passed, the smell arrives. I'm planning to use some odor remover designed for urine, blood, etc. and pour it in the area where my dog urinated and hopefully, the odor remover will reach the same area and take away the nasty smell. (06/04/2008)

By Vicki

Smell Coming From Kitchen Cabinets

I have the same issue and have also found success by buying a large bag of charcoal and setting it beneath my sink. Smell was gone the next morning! Charcoal is great at absorbing odors. (11/21/2008)

By BD

Smell Coming From Kitchen Cabinets

I've had similar problem. Someone else mentioned charcoal. I used a product called FRIDGE IT, it's an activated carbon odor absorber that is completely unscented and works great for me. I have them in lots of cabinets and drawers around the house especially the kitchen, bathroom, and basement. Keeps the musty smell out. I usually just get these on line at the web site innofresh.com I love their service too. My order ships always very quickly. (12/02/2008)

By kengie

Smell Coming From Kitchen Cabinets

We used vanilla extract on a small rag and this took out the odor for months. (01/07/2009)

By Jack

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