…smelly furniture

Last week in my Q&As I had a question about getting rid of the smell that sometimes lingers inside of vintage furniture. I asked for advice from my readers and of course you came through!


Here are some of your clever ideas that I plan on using in the near future.

  • I have found that washing smelly furniture all over with a sugar soap solution and then giving it a good airing normally works a treat 🙂
  • Maybe wipe down with vinegar and let dry good – Shari
  • I have put a bowl of charcoal in the drawers, which I’ve gotten at the pet store (fish tank filter). I’ve also used good old arm n hammer baking powder. I figured if it works in the fridge it’ll work in a drawer and it did! – Pia
  • Once I got the advice to use cat litter against undesirable smells. It was an advice for smelly old suitcases, but maybe work for furniture, too. 🙂 – Angela
  • After I do what you advised of airing it out…I use spray shellac about 2 coats . More if needed. But Ive only needed 2. It is wonderful!!! – Kashia
  • I like to place a cotton ball dabbed with essential oil (usually peppermint) in the drawer to remove old smells. – Deb G
  • Shellac will seal any odors out of drawers, I have sprayed it on outdoors when weather cooperated and brushed it on when indoors.  Ventilate well if you are doing it indoors, but it dries really fast and the funky smells all go away.  I have even sprayed the entire inside of the case of the chest with shellac to be sure to seal the odor, worked every time and pretty low labor investment.
  • I would guess a poly sealer in matt finish would work also, maybe even the water based spray ones that are non-toxic.  I never found airing it out or anything else to work long term, the smell always came back.
  • I just finished getting the smell out of two pieces with smoke smell. First, I sprayed with vinegar, a great neutralizer, then liberally sprinkled coffee grounds(unused)and baking soda on all the flat surfaces. THEN, I washed with some borax and baking soda mixed with water. I repeated the entire process and dabbed with some orange oil. Now, they are good to go! Next time, I’m going right to the shellac as Kashia mentioned and save myself alot of time:) – Rebecca



You can probably guess which tip I’ll be trying first 🙂




  1. I inherited my mother’s dining room table. When the sun hits it or our space gets quite warm, it smells well, ‘old’ and a bit smoky as she was a smoker. But somehow, I really don’t mind the smell because nasty, unhealthy habit that it was, it reminds me of her.

  2. Angela Lueddecke says:

    Mine!? 🙂

  3. I have the coolest trunk from my grandparents and my kids call it the stinky chest- I have tried all of these but washing it as I am afraid to get it very wet and ruin the inside and can’t get it to not smell – We just keep it closed – I can always tell when a lil friend comes over and opens it….

  4. I used a product called Odoban . It works really well. You can dilute it to different strengths. I sprayed the inside of desk drawers and left them to set in the sun. My husband helps with estate sales and Odoban really is a big help to freshen old houses that have been closed up.

  5. check out the Lush House videos – she has a lot of great tips. Try the one for smelly cupboards.

  6. Lush House has a lot of great tips. Check out the one for smelly cupboards.

  7. Similar to the cat litter suggestion, I found a suggestion online for using newspapers and it worked for getting the musty smoke smell out of an adorable vintage suitcase I bought on Etsy. I loosely crumple newspapers and filled the suitcase, closed it up for 24 hours and the newspaper absorbed the odors. I was amazed at how stinky the newspaper was! Just repeat the process until no smell remains. For my little suitcase, just 3 times is all it took for odors to be gone.

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