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How Do You Get The Smell Out Of Old Wood Furniture?

How Do You Get The Smell Out Of Old Wood Furniture?

There are a few tools and tricks to get rid of musty smell so that you can enjoy that beautiful piece of wood furniture you got. Whether you are getting old furniture passed down from a family member or from a thrift shop, or you simply have wood furniture that is in storage and hasn’t been used for a while, you can sometimes be in for an unpleasant supply when you get it home—the drawers are filled with a musty, moldy odor. This smell is not permanent, however, and can be fixed with several remedies. Find out why this odor, and what you can do to eliminate this characteristic smell of old wood furniture.

Wipe and Clean.
Bacteria and germs can permeate porous wood causing awful “old-smell” odors. To eliminate the smell, kill the bacteria and germs by cleaning the inside of the drawers and all surfaces with a sponge dampened with vinegar, Murphy’s Oil Wood Soap or any Anti-Fungal Detergents. Then let dry in a well ventilated area.

Vinegar & Odor Absorbing Products.
Fill a plastic or glass container/ bowl with vinegar and place in each drawer. Close the drawers and wait a few days to see if the vinegar absorbs the odor. Other odor absorbing substances like charcoal, coffee grounds, kitty liter or baking soda may also help.

Natural Sun-Light, Dehumidify.
Porous wood absorbs moisture and smells from it’s surrounding environment. If your piece smells like a thrift store or old attic, try leaving the piece to dry out in the natural sun light. If you live in a humid environment, try placing your piece with a dehumidifier in a small enclosed room. Leave it running for a few days to suck the moisture and odors out of the wood.

Strip and sand the piece. If the odors are caught in the original finish, this will help by removing the finish and letting the natural wood breath. If there is still a slight odor after stripping and sanding, using method number two. The odor absorbing substance should get rid of any remaining unpleasantness.

Vodka or Bleach.
Put bleach or cheap vodka into a spray bottle and mist the entire piece inside and out. Then leave it in the sunshine or another moisture free area to completely dry. This will help disinfect and eliminate odors.

Dryer Sheets.

This is the easiest tip of the bunch and it works well if the smell you’re dealing with is about a four out of ten on the yuckiness scale. It’s not going to take the smell away, but it will certainly mask it. If you have an old dresser just line the drawers with dryer sheets or if it’s a vintage trunk just find a way to stash a few of them inside. This is a really great little trick for lots of yucky smells!

Baking Soda and Carpet Powder.

Again, this one is for more mild to moderate smells. Grab some good old-fashioned baking soda, put it in a bowl and place it in the furniture. The bigger the piece the more baking soda you’ll need. For example, if you’re working on a dresser you’ll need a bowl in each drawer. Close it up and leave it for at least a week. Probably two if you’re dealing with a more serious smell. The baking soda will absorb it up like magic. You can also try using one of those odor eliminating carpet powders

Murphy’s Oil Soap

Have you guys heard of Murphy Oil Soap Wood Cleaner? This stuff is the bomb and works wonders for actually cleaning wood and removing funky smells. And it’s so easy to use–just pour some on a clean cloth and wipe the piece down really well. Easy peasy for the win and it’s really effective.


This is the one that works best for those really strong odors that just don’t want to go away. If you’re willing to paint the piece of furniture, even if it’s just the inside, I’d definitely consider giving primer a try. This works really well if your furniture has a serious smell problem going on.

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