How To Get Odor Out of Wood Furniture The Easy Way
Whether you need to remove the smell of cigarette smoke or that musty, moldy smell of old furniture, you don’t want to just mask the foul odor but you need a simple solution that disinfects to deodorize.
If you are struggling to get a smell out of furniture, here are some fail-proof solutions to get any smell out of furniture for good!
I love it when readers ask me questions about their DIY projects!!!
When I see a question more than a few times, I make a mental note that I need to write a blog post about that topic. That was definitely the case for removing stinky smells from furniture.
Quick Links to Information in this Post
- 1 How To Get Odor Out of Wood Furniture The Easy Way
- 2 How to Get Musty SMell Out of Wood
- 3 How to Get Musty Smells Out of Furniture – Supplies Needed:
- 3.1 Step 1: How To Get Smells Out of Wood Furniture with Bleach
- 3.2 Step 2: Let it Sit.
- 3.3 Step 3: Wipe down.
- 3.4 Step 4: How to get Musty Smells Out of Old Furniture With An Essential Oil Solution
- 3.6 Step 5: Let it Fully dry.
- 3.8 Step 6: Prime Furniture to block Out The Smell
- 3.9 How to Get a Musty Smell Out of Furniture With A Natural Wood Finish
- 3.10 How to Get the Smell out of Furniture Fabric
- 5 How to Remove the Smell from Fabric-Covered Chairs
- 6 How to Get the Smell Out of a Couch
- 8 How to Remove Urine Smell From a Couch
- 9 FAQ’s: How to Remove Smell From Wood Furniture
- 9.1 How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Furniture?
- 9.2 How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Furniture?
- 9.3 How do You Get A Thrift Store Smell Out of Furniture?
- 9.4 Does Musty Smell Always Mean Mold?
- 9.5 Does Vinegar Remove Musty Smell?
- 9.6 What is the Best Way to Remove Musty Smell From Furniture?
- 9.7 How Do You Prevent Cleaners from Having Adverse Effects on Furniture Finishes?
- 10 Related Posts on How to Remove a Musty Smell From Wood Furniture
- 11 Final Thoughts on How to Get Smells Out of Wood Furniture
- 12 Blessings,
- 13 Be sure to follow the fun here!
- 14 How to Get Musty Smell Out of Furniture
How do you get musty smells out of furniture?
Whether it’s removing that old, musty, moldy smell or cigarette odor, apparently several furniture rehabbers are having the same problem. Fortunately, I’ve found some simple solutions that work on the vast majority of smells.
Perhaps the worst furniture smell I experienced was this girl…
I saw her on Facebook Marketplace and kept eyeing those cute little drawers that I could add card catalog-style hardware too! Right as I was about to type “I want it” in the comment section, it came up as “SOLD”.
To my surprise, the next day she was listed again but for $80 instead of $90! You’d think I would have caught on at that point, but unfortunately, I didn’t.
Normally, I like to look at every square inch of a furniture piece before committing to buy. I inspect the legs, open and close every door and check the structure so I know what I’m getting myself into.
However, this time was a little different. One Friday, we planned to meet the seller at their storage facility when Jeremy got off work. My daughter Morgan and I planned on meeting him there.
So, I sat in the garage and put on my shoes as Morgan got in the car.
After about 10 minutes into our drive, I was a little shocked to feel something move INSIDE MY SHOE. “No, that’s just my imagination”, I thought.
Of course, I felt it move again…
While still driving, I kicked off my right shoe to find a huge tree frog! It hopped around in the floorboard as I tried to drive. Morgan and I were both screaming as it jumped back and forth between the seats.
I managed to pull over and we tried to get our new little friend out of the car. However, he kept hopping around until he hopped deep under one of the back seats.
We finally got to the storage facility and the dresser was already loaded into Jeremy’s truck. I paid the man (who did not have change) and thought “well, at least I got a great piece of furniture out of this…”
We got home to find that the dresser had an insane amount of damage. One of the drawers had a huge chip and there was significant water damage along the bottom.
But that wasn’t all…it had a horrible stank that made our entire garage smell like stale cigarettes, old socks, and garbage all packaged into one pungent aroma.
The dress was quite a “treat” for the senses. Fortunately, I have a lot of experience with stinky furniture finds.
How to Get Musty SMell Out of Wood
The fact that it had water damage gave me a clue as to why the dresser smelled so stinkin’ bad! Many smells are caused by mold and mildew. If it was exposed to water for a time, there’s a good chance that was at least one source of the smell. If you want to know how to get rid of the wet wood smell, you have to kill any potential mold or mildew first.
What Causes Musty Smells in Furniture?
Odors can be from mold, mildew, chemicals, and bacteria so you don’t want to just cover up the odor to get the smell out of furniture. Imagine trying to spray rose-scented room deodorizer into a dumpster. It’s just going to make it even worse.
When my daughter caught C Diff. after her tonsillectomy (it was horrible), we had to make sure the C Diff. didn’t spread. Therefore, I did a lot of research on the best disinfectants.
How Do YOu Neutralize Furniture Smell?
It turns out the most powerful disinfectant in the world is already in your home. When it comes to killing superbugs or even the common cold, a 1 to 10 solution of bleach to warm water will be your best bet every single time!
The key is letting the surface stay wet with diluted bleach for 30 minutes so that it can kill every single germ and mold spore on the surface. The important thing about this ratio is that the bleach is not concentrated enough to discolor your furniture or leave any adverse effects.
Letting the bleach solution sit on the furniture piece for 30 minutes does two things:
- It helps the solution to soak deep into the wood pores where bacteria and mildew spores are hiding
- Bacteria need 30 minutes of exposure to bleach to kill them. This is why a quick spray and wipe with a damp cloth doesn’t work
HOW TO GET CIGARETTE SMELL OUT OF FURNITURE
Sometimes it’s more of a matter of just disinfecting. Some chemicals, like those from cigarettes, permeate the wood grain and fabric of furniture. Those chemicals have to be neutralized and they can be successful with a few drops of your favorite essential oils. We’ll discuss below which blend of essential oils is best for removing the smell of cigarette smoke.
How to Get Musty Smells Out of Furniture – Supplies Needed:
Some affiliate links may be used in the post at no additional charge to you. See my disclosure here.
- 2 Spray bottles
- Rocky Mountain Purity Essential Oil – Check the current price here.
- Zinsser Bullseye 123 Primer – It comes in gray or white. Check the current price here.
Step 1: How To Get Smells Out of Wood Furniture with Bleach
Some people will use baking powder or vinegar but if you want to really deodorize wood, you have to get out the big guns. Bleach will kill bacteria like nothing else and you don’t have to use a lot to get a smell out of furniture.
Mix a 1:10 ratio of bleach to water in a spray bottle and spray down your wood furniture liberally. If it is easier, you can wipe it down with a cloth but be sure to wear latex gloves.
QUICK TIP: Always mix this solution a few minutes before you use it because water mixed with clorox has a short shelf life.
Wipe down every single surface that you will not paint including the insides of drawers, the backs of drawers, under the furniture piece, etc.
Step 2: Let it Sit.
Give the bleach solution 30 minutes to just sit and sanitize the surface of the furniture.
*** Don’t use Clorox wipes for this because they actually don’t contain any bleach.
Step 3: Wipe down.
Wipe off the bleach solution and put a fan on it so it’s no longer damp. You want to remove any extra water so it doesn’t damage the wood.
Step 4: How to get Musty Smells Out of Old Furniture With An Essential Oil Solution
Mix about 15-20 drops of Rocky Mountain Oils Purify into 8 ounces of water. Shake it well. I like to use a glass container for essential oils but it’s not a must.
Spray over the furniture piece just in the areas that will not be painted. Again, don’t forget the inside of drawers, underneath the furniture piece, etc.
The bleach solution was our ‘defense’, killing any existing mold and bacteria on the surface. The essential oils are our offense. In case we missed any places on the surface with the Clorox solution, the essential oils make the surface uninhabitable for mold and bacteria to grow in the future!
Why Rocky Mountains Purify blend? There are a lot of great essential oils out there. I’ve done some research into this company and they sell a reliable product that is inexpensive: Purify Essential Oil
This blend is part of their cleaning line and contains oil from Lemongrass, Tea Tree, Rosemary, Lavender, Myrtle, and Citronella which are very effective at getting the smell out of furniture.
Not only can Purify help repel insects, but it also works to clear the scent of smoke and eliminates other noxious odors. Plus, it smells amazing!!! Check the current price of Purify blend here.
Let the essential oil solution sit for 30 minutes before wiping it off with a clean cloth or paper towels.
Step 5: Let it Fully dry.
Let the piece and it’s drawers dry out completely! Make sure the inside of the drawers are exposed to fresh air. Its a good idea to open windows to remove stale air with excess moisture in order to let the natural wood breath. If the weather is nice, let it sit in natural sunlight.
Use a box fan for a couple of days if needed. Do a sniff test, and if you still have a faint smell, spray the essential oil mixture again.
How to Deodorize Dresser Drawers
The process above still applies if you are wondering how to get smells out of wood drawers of an already-finished piece of furniture. Just go over it with the bleach mixture, let them sit and then spray them with the essential oil spray as described above.
Step 6: Prime Furniture to block Out The Smell
Once your furniture is fully dry, you can prime the areas you want to paint. The first step to refinishing is to lightly scuff sand just enough to degloss the surface. Primer is always a must before painting. (I discuss this more in my posts Why I Don’t Use Chalk Paint and How to Sand Furniture in Less Than 5 Minutes).
If you still have a slight odor, I have good news! The primer will block out the odors under the painted surface. This primer in particular also has a mold and mildew resistant film. Continue to refinish the furniture piece using this post: A Beginner’s Guide to Furniture Refinishing (DIY Tutorial and Video
How to Get a Musty Smell Out of Furniture With A Natural Wood Finish
What if you go through all these steps and you STILL have unpleasant odors? If you can’t prime and paint the piece, you can still block the odors without painting over the natural finish. Just use a clear coat in matte or satin finish. After testing clear coats for furniture, I recommend this product wholeheartedly: Varathane Water-based Polyurethane
Be sure to see this post for the best tips on how to apply your top coat: How to Apply A Clear Coat to Furniture
How to Get the Smell out of Furniture Fabric
I have a personal rule that I don’t upcycle pieces that are upholstered unless they are in amazing shape. However, there are times when you need to de-stank a piece you couldn’t resist or a well-loved piece of furniture in your home.
How to Remove the Smell from Fabric-Covered Chairs
For fabric covered chairs, I would take off the fabric and wash it on a gentle cycle or by hand with Woolite. Then, I’d replace any stuffing (check here for foam) before you staple on the fabric again. This way, you can rest assured that you know exactly what is in that foam padding! (That episode of Friends with the rat in the red chair comes to mind!)
How to Get the Smell Out of a Couch
First, you need to decide what parts of the couch could be replaced. I have replaced the cushion foam in three separate couches with fabulous results from The Foam Factory here. They have directions online to measure your couch cushions. You send in the measurements with your order and in a matter of a few days, they send you new cushions. I’ve been very pleased and have gotten a lot more life out of several furniture pieces.
After ordering your cushions, you want to wash the cushion covers. If your cushion covers smell like body odor, add this detergent: I have actually put couch cushion covers in the washing machine on the hand wash cycle and it works great. Do not put your couch cushion covers in the dryer. I put mine around the tops of my kitchen chairs and let them air out to dry.
Wipe down the rest of the couch with water and detergent. After it has dried, spray it with the essential oil blend and water I used above. Shake it well before use.
If your fabric furniture still smells, see the two products below…
How to Remove Urine Smell From a Couch
We have had kids and our puppy both pee on our couch before……hey, it happens! I went through about 15 different products for upholstered furniture before finding what works to completely get out any lingering smells. Don’t waste your time on enzymes! The problem with enzymes is they will not work if any other soap or detergent has been used previously.
Your first option is something called Genesis 950. I’ve used it to get old cat urine (and lots of it) out of one of the rooms in our house when we moved in. Dilute it according to the directions and you can wipe it on a couch without it discoloring the fabric. I would be sure to test a tiny area first to be safe though.
BE SURE TO FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS. It has a strong chemical smell while you use it but it DOES work when other products will not. In spite of the smell, they say it is a natural product. The chemical smell is gone after it’s dried. Check reviews and the current price here.
For a cheaper option, you can try Thornell’s K.O.E. K.O.E. (Kennel Odor Eliminator) concentrate is an essential oil-based cleaner and is very effective at removing dog urine odors also. One container will make dozens of gallons of cleaning solution. This is also safe to use on a couch but test a small area first. You can even use it in your washer to wash the couch covers. Check the reviews and the current price here.
With these methods, you can avoid throwing out a well-loved piece of furniture. Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments section.
For more quick tips on refinishing old furniture check out my must-have painting tips. They will make your whole project go faster and smoother!
FAQ’s: How to Remove Smell From Wood Furniture
How to Get Rid of Musty Smell in Furniture?
The water/bleach solution kills the mildew and bacteria but adding an essential oil solution neutralizes chemical odors and prevents mildew and bacteria from returning.
How to Get Mildew Smell Out of Furniture?
Musty odors are the result of mildew and/or bacteria and sometimes these smells have permeated beyond the surface. A humid environment in a small enclosed room or old attic is a perfect breeding ground for mildew and bacteria. For example, my old dresser was in a storage facility where it also had water damage. Stay away from quick fixes like air fresheners or any other easy recipes that simply mask the musty odor.
The first thing you need to do is air out the piece on a dry day and allow it to get some natural sunlight which will help to kill mildew in affected areas. Use the cleaners in this post to help with bacteria but mildew will be killed most easily with anti-fungal detergents and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. For the next step, scrub the furniture piece with the cleaner and let it sit before rinsing. Let any fabric upholstery dry completely with the help of fans.
How do You Get A Thrift Store Smell Out of Furniture?
The musty scent you often smell is from mildew odor and a solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water is usually enough to kill the mildew. Make sure the solution sits on the surface for 30 minutes and then is dried out completely.
Does Musty Smell Always Mean Mold?
A musty smell usually means mold and bacteria. If there was enough moisture for mold to grow in the pores of wood furniture, then there is definitely enough moisture for bacteria.
Does Vinegar Remove Musty Smell?
The important thing to remember is that you need something to kill the bacteria, mold and fungus spores that settle in porous wood furniture. Bacteria and even mold spores are tiny and settle deep into the reviews of wood. A white vinegar solution can inhibit mildew growth because of it’s high acidity but sometimes it doesn’t kill the spores completely even with the best cleaning efforts.
What is the Best Way to Remove Musty Smell From Furniture?
I’ve tried several different cleaners including baking soda, steam cleaning, dryer sheets, coffee grounds and even kitty litter. The problem with most of these including vinegar solutions is that they can’t get into the pours of wood to kill the source of the odor. The cleaning solutions mentioned in this post have given me the best results to remove old musty smells from antique furniture without any lingering odors.
Some other cleaners like apple cider vinegar, murphy’s oil soap, antifungal detergents or a one part lemon juice to one part water solution will remove unpleasant smells temporarily but the mildew smell will eventually come back. This is especially the case with natural cleaning products.
How Do You Prevent Cleaners from Having Adverse Effects on Furniture Finishes?
It’s always a good idea to test the cleaner in an inconspicuous area. Wipe it onto the bottom of the furniture piece and see if it reacts with the original finish before applying it to the whole furniture piece.
Related Posts on How to Remove a Musty Smell From Wood Furniture
Want to see how the dresser turned out? Click here for my coastal blue dresser makeover!
Final Thoughts on How to Get Smells Out of Wood Furniture
With this easy tutorial you can remove odors in any furniture piece so you can enjoy it for a long time. Whether it’s a leather couch, fabric furniture or a natural wood piece, the good news is that there are several options to remove the odors long term. Don’t let a funky odor keep you from refinishing that thrift store find. If you have any questions, be sure to ask them below in the comment section!
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How to Get Musty Smell Out of Furniture
Welcome to Renovated Faith, where I share about DIY projects, my faith and everything in between! When I’m not spending time with my family, you will find me redoing furniture in the garage or watering plants in my greenhouse. This blog is about transformation. Anyone can renovate a house but only God can transform our hearts!