Removing Odor From China Cabinet?

I have a china cabinet that we bought used about 25 years ago. I have tried Murphy's, baking soda, air fresheners, etc but nothing seems to help. The cabinet has a smell inside of it and the crystal and china has the same smell plus an oily coating on it when I take it out. Any suggestions?


GayLynn from Houston, TX

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May 28, 20080 found this helpful

FIRST STEP: Take a soft rag & wipe the whole inside out with lots of rubbing alcohol or 100 proof Vodka or Everclear if you can get it (these have no scent like the rubbing alcohol does)... These will remove most of the excess oils. You should do this 2 or 3 times... Use care, hold your breath when your head is inside the cabinet & don't breathe in the fumes & open a window.

Then try one or all of these --->

VINEGAR: One thing that sounds weird, but works well is to place several small bowls of white vinegar in the area where the odors are (cars, cupboards, dressers, closets, etc) for a day or two. I know it sounds strange, but the vinegar will remove the odors & the vinegar smell will go away too!


CAT LITTER: The other thing that works well, especially in damp or moldy area like car trunks, old dressers etc. is to fill a leg cut from a pair of pantyhose with the cheapest kitty-litter you can buy (clay based) & tie the end off, then place or hang this in the damp, or smelly area for a few days or just keep it in your car's trunk (or your closet, or cabinet) & replace it every month or so.

CHARCOAL: Place a bowl of broken up charcoal briquettes (not the self lighting type!) but PLAIN charcoal inside the cabinet for several days. This will absorb odors like a sponge.

OZONE MACHINES: The very BEST way to remove any odors, is to use an ozone generator or an ozone machine. This work amazingly well. You can usually rent them from a rental company.
* But, because your odors are cause by the oils in the wood or the wood finish, any of the above would be temporary to say the least. You'll most likely have to do what's next on the list:


SANDING or VENEER: If none of these things work, you'll have to use a small power sander & actually sand the coating off of the wood inside the cabinet. You can then coat the inside with a water-base nontoxic varathine sealer. Also, sometimes you can buy cedar veneer (or any wood veneer that matches your cabinet) at a hobby wood store & you could veneer the insides (AFTER the ALCOHOL WASH!) or after sanding to remove the oils. You may not have to actually sand off the finish because the veneer will cover the wood finish oils like a new blanket. Wood Veneers can be cut with an exacto or box knife. Make sure to use the type of glue they recommend (usually contact cement) because if you use the wrong glue the veneer will warp! ... If this sounds like way to much of a hassle, there's always wood-looking contact paper you could just stick inside the cabinet! (but don't forget to first wash the inside with Alcohol before applying so the contact paper will stick!) Wood contact paper comes in a dark, med & light color of "wood".

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March 25, 20170 found this helpful

Yes but won't the running alcohol damage,the wood backing? Most articles refer to this damaging wood, and fixing it after. Thanks for your help.

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By Antique Store in Denver (Guest Post)
May 28, 20080 found this helpful

For cabinets with a heavy cigarette smell or pet odors we fill a small bowl with chlorine bleach and set it in the cabinet. You can leave it until the smell has gone. Be careful not to spill. Hope this works for you!

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By Lynn (Guest Post)
May 29, 20080 found this helpful

We didn't have the oil problem, so the source may be different. Our solution was to unwrap a bar of melaleuca soap, set it on one of the shelves on top of its wrapper, and close the door.


Several days later the smell was gone!

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By Ace (Guest Post)
May 29, 20080 found this helpful

Don't know if this will work, but it is easy to try. Try a can of Coffee. I had read this online that Coffee works wonders on removing odors. Just place a 13 oz opened can of Coffee for this & then ditch the coffee afterwards. It's worth it to eliminate your problem. Afterwards, you can sprinkle the Coffee in your Flower Bed to perk them up.

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May 29, 20080 found this helpful

I would first take all the dishes and wash them in soap and water. If you smoke or have a woodstove it will collect on them. The best thing I have found for removing stubborn odors is used coffe grounds.


They work even better than baking soda. While you have your cabinet empty sit containers of used coffee grounds in it and see if that doesn't solve the problem.

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By Jennifer (Guest Post)
June 3, 20080 found this helpful

I'm not sure if this tip will work with your odor but it's worth a shot. I recently read that vinegar takes away odors. At first glance, this seems like a smelly way to get rid of odor! But according to my source. spraying a vinegar solution of say 2 parts water, 1 part vinegar works and its own odor dissipates relatively fast so you're not left with a house smelling like pickles!

Hope this or something else helps!
Kind regards,

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June 13, 20080 found this helpful

I've heard about using vinegar, charcoal, and coffee to remove odors, but never inside wood cabinets! This info was extremely helpful!

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June 20, 20080 found this helpful

I tried a lot of these ideas for an old trunk, also tried bunched up newspapers. What worked for me was to place it in the sun for a few days. I don't know if that would work for finished furniture.

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By Claudette B. (Guest Post)
November 19, 20080 found this helpful

I learned this from a Australian lady. Put vanilla in a small open container in the china cabinet.


The vanilla gives a nice aroma and did take away the musty old wood smell of the antique china cabinet.

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December 17, 20121 found this helpful

Every time I obtain a piece of wood furniture from a garage sale and bring it home it seems it always stinks inside the drawers, so here's what I have been doing over the years: I place a strongly scented candle in a favorite scent (ex: Bayberry, Eucalyptus, or Orange-Clove) inside each stinky drawer and leave it in place for at least a week. The wood seems to absorb and then retain the scent and the odor is gone!

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December 11, 20180 found this helpful

I received a candle for Christmas and put it inside my China cabinet and it seems to have taken away the horrible chemical smell in the top half. Thinking I'm going to place some in the bottom cabinet and drawer to get rid of the odor.

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