How to Remove Odors from Wood Furniture

If you have old wooden furniture, you may have noticed that they sometimes have a musty or rotten odor. But even new wooden furniture can smell bad.

This happens for various reasons. It could be due to mildew or products left in the drawers or cabinets for too long.

The bottom line is that you will probably need to learn how to remove odors from wood furniture.

And you are in luck. Because we have done all the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to. Below is our tried and tested method for leaving your wooden furniture smelling clean and fresh.

As a bonus, this process is also effective for removing black stains from wood furniture or dealing with any other unsightly smells and stains that may be present.

How to Get a Bad Smell out of Wood Furniture

Step 1: Empty Out & Wipe

Before rushing to clean your furniture piece, it is important to remove anything from the inside. Clear out all drawers and shelves.

how to remove odor from wood furniture

Then, take a damp rag and give your furniture a proper wipe-down. Sometimes this is all it takes, especially if the smell originates from something inside that turned rotten or moldy.

For example, you may realize removing sticker glue from your wood furniture after it has been there for a couple of years can go miles in improving the smell of your furniture.

Step 2: Clean

For older and more persistent odors, it is best to give your furniture a thorough clean.

Especially if your initial inspection has warranted removing paint spots from the wood or getting rid of tar and nicotine from wood furniture.

The good news is that there are various ways of approaching this step. Many include a combo of simple household items.

For example, a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water makes an excellent odor-combusting solution, which is why it is recommended for smelly stains such as getting blackberry stains out of wood.

how to get odor out of wood furniture

Professional chemicals are also an option. If you turn to professional odor-removing chemicals, bleach-based or enzymatic cleaners are your best bet.

You can also use oil soap. Whatever cleaning solution you choose, use a cloth or sponge and wash the furniture thoroughly.

Use water sparingly throughout the process as you don’t want too much water on your wooden furniture, which may lead to you getting watermarks out of wood later.

As an optional additional step, you can place vodka or bleach in a bottle and spray the interior of the furniture with it after cleaning to address the odors.

After completing the above, allow your furniture to air out. Place it outside in the sun or in a room with a dehumidifier to extract any residual moisture or odors.

Step 3: Absorb Residual Odor

After cleaning, you want to ensure that you also take the necessary measures to absorb any odors that may remain.

The first way to do this is by covering the interior shelves or drawers with baking soda. Baking soda is great for absorbing odors and residue, which is why it is used to remove skin oil from wood furniture as well.

how to get odors out of wood

After sprinkling the baking soda, leave it for a few days and vacuum it up. You can also follow the same process using kitty litter, coffee grounds, or charcoal powder.

As an alternative, you can also place vinegar inside the furniture piece. Fill a container or glass with vinegar and place it inside each drawer or shelve. Leave it for a few days and allow the vinegar to absorb the odors.

You can also use coffee beans. Simply place coffee beans in a container or glass and leave it inside to work its magic.

Another method is using newspaper and charcoal. Place newspaper wads on all shelves and on the inside of the drawers, and cover the newspaper with coffee grounds or charcoal. Leave it for about a week to absorb the smells.

The above processes can be repeated as often as necessary to eliminate the smell.

Step 4: Freshen It Up

After cleaning your furniture and ensuring all the odors are absorbed, you are ready to finish up the process.

how to remove smells from wood furniture

If you have already eliminated the odor successfully, congratulations. You can now leave a scented candle or air freshener inside to ensure a long-lasting pleasant smell remains.

But maybe you are still getting an unpleasant whiff of musty odor. In this case, you might want to strip and sand your wooden furniture.

This will ensure that any odors contained in the original finish are removed by giving the wood a chance to breathe.

You can also seal the wood, which seals the odor into the wood (and keeps it out of your nostrils).

To do this, apply a few coats of dewaxed shellac, made from a resin secreted by insects native to Thailand and India.

As an alternative, you can paint the furniture with a powerful primer. Simply apply a coat of primer to the interior and exterior of your furniture to seal in the odor and deal with any lingering scent.

how to remove smell from wood furniture


So, it turns out that odors in your wood furniture are not only normal but also easy to handle. As long as you have a good grasp on the best ways to eliminate them.

If you follow our trusted guide, your furniture will smell and look as good as the day you bought it.

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