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I know you have said that you tried baking soda but you may not have used it long enough. I bought a small maple cabinet last year that had a strong smell of mildew inside of it. I could not refinish it because it is an antique and that would have ruined it.
I placed a coffee filter in the cabinet and filled it with baking soda, leave open don't tie the filter closed. I then closed the cabinet and placed it in a closet that I was not using. (yes!!! some people have these)
After two weeks the cabinet still had a faint smell of mildew in it so I replaced the baking soda and closed it up again. Two weeks later the smell was completely gone. I now use the cabinet for table linens and have not had any problem with any smell. Sometimes the right answer needs patience.
Frankly, if the item came with the smell I would send it back. Many items shipped from the Asian market are damaged by water in the shipping as they are shipped by boat. Please think of returning the item if you still can.
Mrs Kathy Cohen
If you can remove the shelf, try putting out in the sun for several hours; bring inside and then fill a coffee filter with dry coffee, tie the top and place on the shelf for 2-3 days.
I am familiar with a product called 'De-Moist'. It is commonly referred to as Fuller's Earth. It comes in a cotton pouch, and absorbs moisture.
Try putting a plastic container, with holes punched in it, (an empty cottage cheese container is good) of charcoal in the cabinet. Close up the cabinet for a few days. This should get rid of the musty odor.
Editor's Note: If using charcoal briquettes to get rid of odors, use the plain ones, not those with lighter fluid already added.
Try putting a jar of coffee grounds in the cabinet and close it up.You could also use a container of baking soda,might work.
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