Mothball Smell Out of Cedar Chest

How can I remove the smell of moth repellent from an old cedar chest? I have tried sanding it down, wiping it with vinegar, setting it out in the sun, wadding up newspaper to absorb the odor and many other things as well. Nothing has diminished the smell. I love the chest, but I don't want anything I place in it to smell like moth balls! Please help. Thanks in advance.

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By Laurie from Waldo, ME

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September 8, 20050 found this helpful

How do you remove the scent of mothballs from an old cedar chest?

Rad

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June 30, 20190 found this helpful

will activated charcoal remove moth ball odor from a cedar chest?

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March 9, 20110 found this helpful

I would use baking soda, but don't just open the boxes and put those in the chest. I would dump them inside the chest and after a couple of weeks I would vacuum it out. Then you can proceed with sanding if necessary.

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December 31, 20190 found this helpful

Worked for a few days then the smell came back

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Anonymous
February 2, 20162 found this helpful

I just inherited a lovely cedar chest and put some blankets in it, and in a month, everything reeked of moth balls that had formerly been in the chest. After trying a few web suggestions, one suggestion, spraying Fabreeze in the chest, actually WORKED!

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A furniture maker also said that heat (space heater or blow dryer) and air movement will help the chemicals in the mothballs dissipate. Haven't tried that yet. So far, the Fabreeze is holding! Can't believe my nose!

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October 9, 20180 found this helpful

I tried Febreeze in my Cedar Chest and it did nothing whatsoever.

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June 16, 20190 found this helpful

I don't have an answer but wish to offer a perspective based on my knowledge of chemistry. Moth balls are usually either 1,4-dichlorobenzene (AKA para-dichlorobenzene) or napthalene, though sometimes, camphor. All of these are semivolatile non-polar compounds. They will not react with acids (vinegar) or baking soda. Fabreze kills odors by sorbtion, and will only work short-term. The mothball chemicals are designed to vaporize and condense on the clothing stored in the chest, but they also condense in the wood, which is somewhat porous, and a bit oily--the cedar oil is why cedar chests work to protect clothing.

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So it takes a long time for the chemicals to re-vaporize and leave the wood. So heat and ventilation should accelerate the process, but it will take patience. If kept warm and ventilated, it should eventually disappear, but it may take weeks or months.

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June 27, 2013

I've seen countless posts on "what to try" to remove mothball odor from a dresser and I've tried many of them without success. I also don't see any follow up posts of folks saying what actually worked for them. My next attempt will be to cover the entire inside with polyurethane. Has anyone tried this? Does it work?

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I'm asking that answers don't include "what to try" -- there are so many posts on the web to that effect already. Instead, I'd like to hear "what worked".

Thanks!

By Mike D

Answers

October 22, 20142 found this helpful

Get a bag of cedar shavings from the pet store (hamster or guinea pig litter). Put a 2 inch layer in the bottom of the cedar chest and close it up for 2 days. Clean it out (I used a shop-vac and reused the cedar shavings as mulch) and leave the chest open to air for a day. Repeat- this was fine for me. Repeat again - passed my wife's smell test.

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Anonymous
August 28, 20160 found this helpful

I don't think I would use polyurethane. That would seal the wood and not help recover the cedar smell.

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I am about to tackle the same problem. Hope you are successful.

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August 28, 20160 found this helpful

I don't think I would use polyurethane. That would seal the wood and not help recover the cedar smell. I am about to tackle the same problem. Hope you are successful.

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October 22, 20170 found this helpful

I used cedar rings and balls and still have the smell in it

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October 27, 20190 found this helpful

I always used pine shavings/bedding from Walmart for kitty litter. It completely absorbed all the odor from a litter box. So I dumped a bunch inside a cedar chest that has a strong mothball for. I plan to leave the shavings in the chest with the lid closed for at least a week. Will report back.

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Answer this Question...

March 8, 2011

We received a family cedar chest that can't be used because of an awful smell of mothballs. Why would anyone put mothballs in a cedar chest anyway? Does anyone know of a good way to get the smell out of the cedar?

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Lisa from Michigan

Answers:

baking soda

I would first place a couple of opened boxes of baking soda in the cedar chest, close the lid, and leave it for a few days. Then take sandpaper and sand the inside of the chest. This revives the cedar scent. The sanding also works well for cedar lined drawers, paneling, cedar blocks, etc.

KC (12/01/2000)

By admin2

Mothball Smell Out of Cedar Chest

I think the sanding idea will be very effective. Also, consider putting dry coffee grounds in the chest. The more the better. (09/10/2005)

By Paula in GA

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