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Removing Mothball Smell from Furniture

Category Odors
Removing the strong odor of mothballs from drawers, trunks, and other furniture can be frustrating. This is a guide about removing mothball smell from furniture.
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By 4 found this helpful
September 28, 2010

To remove mothball odor from an old trunk use cheap coffee. Just put it in a nylon that you tie or just sprinkle into the trunk. I did this to a 1800 trunk that even smelled up glassware. It really works.

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By blhooper from Greenback, TN

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By 0 found this helpful
October 20, 2009

I've inherited a chest of drawers and matching bureau from my mother. The interior and drawers stink. I'm at a loss as to what the odor is much less how to get rid of it.

The odor reminds me of Estee Lauder's Youth Dew perfume with a sharp vinegary overtone. I've tried cedar eggs, mothballs, potpourri, bleach, and fabric softener (liquid and dryer sheets).

Does anyone have any idea what might work to kill the odor? I'm handicapped and on a limited budget, so I could really use a great home remedy that is very easy to use. Thank you in advance for any suggestions!

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By Susan from Brentwood, NY

Answers

October 22, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Try cleaning the inside of the drawers with Murphy's Oil Soap which leaves a nice scent behind. In a large bowl use about 1/4 to 1/2 capful of the liquid with warm water. Dip your cleaning rag in the water, wring it out and wipe away inside and out.

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October 23, 20090 found this helpful
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I would try to polycoat the inside of the drawers if they are natural, if they are painted I would repaint them. This should "seal the odor in" as opposed trying to remove it.

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October 23, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

I've used the sun to get rid of odors from a trunk. Just place in strong sunlight. Don't let the furniture get wet at all and check often so the finish will stay OK. I have also read that charcoal, crumbled newspapers, and cat litter help. I think it will take a long time for the odor to go. I would also try washing like a previous poster mentioned.

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October 23, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

I know this sounds silly but it works! Pour fresh (unused) kitty litter in the drawers. Wait a few days and the odor will be gone. I used this technique to remove odors from wooden cheese boxes.

PS keep the cats away while waiting or you will have a bigger issue! Sherielu

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October 23, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Put an open small bag of charcoal that you grill with in the drawers and forget about it for about a week or longer. Amazingly the charcoal will absorb the orders then throw them away. I too am disabled and know that putting them around in a smelly room will keep the air clean smelling! Good luck and keep us posted on what you end up doing.

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April 27, 20100 found this helpful
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Place a slice of lemon on a saucer or bicarbonate of soda in the drawer and it will absorb the odor.

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March 30, 20130 found this helpful
Best Answer

This works every time! Line the drawers with a couple sheets of newspaper and put 1/2 cup unused coffee grounds over the paper. Shut the drawers for a week. Voila! No more odor. I also did this with an upright freezer that had lost power and everything spoiled and therefore left an odor. I tried everything and nothing worked until the coffee trick!

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November 21, 20040 found this helpful

I have an old "steamer" style trunk. It belonged to my mother and even though it hasn't had moth balls in it for over 30 years it still stinks! I use it for some storage, but had not gone into it for over a year, and was just overwhelmed by the smell. I do have cedar chunks in there and have tried Fabreeze but to no avail. If I can't get rid of the smell I am going to have to get rid of it and I don't want to do that. Any suggestions?

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ElectricChameleon

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 22, 20040 found this helpful
Best Answer

To remove any smell the best thing I have found is baking soda. Sprinkle it on and let it sit. You may have to repeat several times.

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 22, 20040 found this helpful
Best Answer

1. coffee grounds
2. charcoal
3. kitty litter
4. newspaper
Leave in for as long as it takes.

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September 13, 20060 found this helpful

I have 3 antique chests that I inherited. Each one had at least 3 bags of mothballs that had nearly disinigrated over about 60 years of storing things in them. How do I get rid of the strong mothballs smell? My daughter is an asthmatic as well.

Dode from Burnaby, B.C.

Answers

September 14, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

Put several plates of Arm and Hammer in it, and close the lid for a week. Open your chest, empty plates and replace with new A & H (yellow box). Try 2-3 times.
Hope this is helpful

Sherry

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By guest (Guest Post)
September 16, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

I have excellent results with removing odors from different things by putting fresh coffee grounds (right from the bag or can) put into a shallow dish and let set for a week, may have to stir up coffee and let set longer or even get fresh and put in, may take some time but I think it will work. I hate moth balls, am allergic to them so know how how they can effect your daughter.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 21, 2005

We acquired an old trunk that was very musty smelling, after trying several things I got the 'bright' idea of putting moth balls in it! I stored pictures and picture albums in there, and now everything smells like moth balls, oh to have that 'musty' smell back again! Is there something I can do to get rid of that moth ball smell now? We recently moved to WA state and I have the albums on a shelf in the office, and the smell just won't go away. Help!

Answers

January 23, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

There is a product called OZIUM. It comes small thin canister. I have found it in hardware stores. 1 or 2 squirts a day in the room with "smelly" objects and eventually, after just a few days you will notice the odor is gone. Don't spray on the objects and read the warnings. (It is bad for pets and people with breathing problems) use sparingly! it does work

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 9, 20050 found this helpful
Best Answer

I bought an old dresser once and it had a musty smell. Try setting a container of fresh ground coffee in it for a few days. It worked for me.

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December 24, 20080 found this helpful

How do I get the moth ball smell out of a recliner?

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By guest (Guest Post)
January 5, 20090 found this helpful
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My MIL gave me a bed cover set that was moth ball awful. I put it in the back yard for several days -- did nothing; then I sprayed with Febreeze -- did a little; then I sprayed with a product called Odo-Ban. I also dampened a towel with the Odo-Ban and put all in the dryer and ran it for a while. That worked.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 16, 2017

A friend gave me her old mattress and box spring, which has been stored in a building filled with mothballs. I've been working on it for weeks now and still can't quite get rid of that nasty stench, and it's spread to my room! How can I get rid of it once and for all? Please help!

Answers

July 16, 20170 found this helpful

Try putting some straight vinegar in a spray/mist bottle and spray the mattress and box springs well with it (on all sides). You may also want to invest in a plastic mattress pillow (like ama tress pad, but it also covers the bottom of the mattress as well--often people use it for keeping bedbugs out of mattresses. Try to either keep the windows open or a fan on in that room to help the smell escape outside.

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July 17, 20170 found this helpful

Not-Out got rave reviews from Mary Hunt, and is available on Amazon.

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July 17, 20170 found this helpful

1) Lay your mattress in the sun.
2) Spray it with Febreze until it is damp and let it dry. Repeat as necessary.
3) Use baking soda. Sprinkle a thin layer on your mattress, let it sit for a while and then vacuum it.

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July 17, 20170 found this helpful

Of course, sunshine and fresh air are the best remedies but a mattress and box springs may be difficult to do this. If possible though, no matter what else you try, fresh air (open house/windows) is a good thing.
I would try to stay away from fine powders as these linger a long time and it is not good to breath these. Have you tried vacuuming your mattress (mattress will hold more odor than box springs)? Many of the bigger thrift stores use a steam cleaner (like is used on clothing - bigger one and not hand held) and this works pretty good. You just have to use it wisely and not soak the mattress and it takes a couple of days for it to thoroughly dry.
Tried everything? Sprinkle coffee grounds between the mattress and box springs. Newspaper is also good but it may leave news print/ink stains/smudges.
Nok-Out is really good but it is kinda expensive but it is probably worth it.

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November 7, 20140 found this helpful

I had to get rid of a completely finished wood storage chest that had wools and moth balls in it because of lingering odor, 2 years after emptying it. The clothes put in it afterward got smelly after a month.

I have the same problem with unfinished (oak and luan) dresser drawers. They also were aired out for 2 years. So airing out is not very effective for wood.
Which leaves questions like can it be sealed and with what type of finish? Or washed, with what, etc.? Or is this the end, just get rid of it?

By DB

Answers

August 4, 20170 found this helpful

A friend gave me a wooden head board (unfinished on the back) that reeked of smoke. I put charcoal in to to nylons & hung it behind the head board. Worked like a charm!

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December 8, 20140 found this helpful

My wife just got a nice bed given to her, but the mattress smells of moth balls. Can any one please help us get rid of the moth ball smell on it? Thank you very much.

By Jim S.

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October 3, 20140 found this helpful

How do I remove moth ball smell from my dinette set that is metal with cloth seats?

By Pat V from Toledo, OH

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July 11, 20130 found this helpful

How can we get the moth ball smell from a dresser? We have used baking soda, charcoal and any other suggestion. But nothing has worked. Any other ideas?

By Lila

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

September 28, 20100 found this helpful

How do I get rid mothball smell from cedar chest?

By PAT3511 from Phoenix, AZ

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September 4, 20090 found this helpful

How do I get rid of moth ball smell in drawers?

Jeff from Philadelphia, PA

Answers:

Moth Ball Odor

I was just told that soaking a cotton ball in vanilla extract and putting it with your items in a storage bin for a couple of days is supposed to work. I'm in the process of trying now. (11/06/2006)

Moth Ball Odor- REMOVE IT!

For bare woods:

Don't waste time with surface treatments as your first step, you risk etching in the odor deeper by laying on top of it. Sand down the wood. Take off a millimeter or so and that should do it. Maybe even less. It'll bring back the cedar smell and remove the mothballs. IF anything remains, throw a box of baking soda in for a bit before your return blankets or whatever to the box.

For fabric:

Hang it up in the sun for a few days. A little each day for sensitive fabrics. Make sure to flip which side gets exposed. Breezy days are best so pin it up well. Sealing it when dry into a bag with odor picker-uppers like carbon charcoal, baking soda, or even a strong scent like dryer sheets, for a few days will help neutralize the odor.

Cheers. (12/05/2008)

By Greenfall

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September 19, 20060 found this helpful

I have a dresser in my son's nursery that has been used as a storage chest at my parents house for the last ump-teen years. When I brought it home, I let it sit outside and air out to get rid of the odor. Well, that didn't work and now everytime I take something out of the drawers to put on him, he reeks of eau-du-moth ball. I've tried white bread in white vinegar, lysol and baking soda. What can I do to get rid of the moth ball scent so that I can use the dresser. Currently I'm using our guest bed as his dresser. I don't want to get rid of the dresser as it was used in my nursery. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can get rid of the moth ball stinch? Thanks so much for your help!

Heather

Answers:

Moth Ball Odor

This might seem a bit radical, but if all else fails you may want to try painting the inside of the dresser (and the interior surfaces of each drawer) with the paint they use in houses that have been exposed to fire. They call it perfume paint and it is supposed to absorb odors in the house so you can't smell the smoke that has soaked into the walls.

Good luck!
Cristi (07/09/2003)

By ThriftyFun

Moth Ball Odor

It seems I've read somewhere of a way of using newspapers crunched up and put in the drawers, or even putting chunks of charcoal in the drawer. They are both suppose to absorb odors.
Good Luck with that. Diane (07/09/2003)

By yesmine

Moth Ball Odor

I know this post was a while back, but for future purposes..

Try placing a bag of cedar chips in the dresser. You can get ziplock bags with holes in them for storing vegetables in your refrigerator. You could place the cedar chips in the bag and place it in the drawer. The cedar should absorb the odor and replace it with a kinder cedar scent. (05/07/2004)

By Tawnda

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