Asked on Jan 26, 2020

How do I clean a moldy/musty smell out of wood cabinet?

KmdreamerTheHoneycombHomeJeremy Hoffpauir


I have a beautiful wood tool cabinet with 18 drawers. It’s big! Almost like a huge dresser. Must have been stored in garage or basement. Smells awful. Can’t store anything in it bc the misery smell transfers. Any way to remove the stink? I would rather not paint it as the wood is still beautiful. Looks like the outside was originally stained, inside is all raw wood.

11 answers
  • I would dry a mixture of vinegar and water, 50/50 with a few drops of soap. Wipe down every surface. I also like Murphy's Oil Soap.

  • Kay Spangler
    on Jan 26, 2020

    Look up activated charcoal deodorizers online. I got a bag of 10 or 12 pouches for maybe $15 (I don't remember exactly how much but remember I was surprised at how inexpensive it was.) I've also used a product from the pet store. It is some kind of charcoal filter that is in the fish tank section. They are pouches about 3" by 4". I apologize that I can't remember what they're called. I don't have the packaging anymore, but activated charcoal soaks up odors.

  • Nan W.
    on Jan 26, 2020

    Linda: I think this is what Kay was talking about! (they DO work!!)


  • Sharon
    on Jan 26, 2020

    I would get some Room Shocker and put it inside the cabinet and leave it closed up for a few days.

  • William
    on Jan 26, 2020

    All else fails in cleaning out the odor you can seal it in the wood with shellac.

    How to Eliminate Odors in Wood

    Your best hope for sealing in any odors is shellac. It makes an excellent barrier coat over all wood species, and it sticks to almost anything. Zinsser makes a great product for this purpose, called Bullseye SealCoat. It’s a clear dewaxed shellac that you can apply to those drawer interiors easily with a brush. It dries quickly and should help to diminish mice, mildew, musty, smoke, urine smell. And since it doesn’t contain wax, you can apply other finishes like lacquer or varnish over it — they’ll stick just fine. SealCoat is also handy to have around the shop as a general purpose wood finish and sanding sealer. So, I’m sure you’ll find other uses for what’s left of the quart you buy.

  • Linda
    on Jan 26, 2020

    Thank you for the suggestions. I have had the cabinet for four years. I love it that much. Have tried the charcoal .... didn’t work. I think I will try the seal coat next because that would be the next logical step. The outside no longer smells but when I open the drawers they still smell. Thank you!

  • Holly Lengner - Lost Mom
    on Jan 27, 2020

    Have you tried pulling the drawers out for a decent amount of time to let everything air out? If the outside no longer smells, it could be because of the fresh air it gets. Good luck with your project. I would love to see a picture of this wood cabinet you've been hanging onto.

  • Jeremy Hoffpauir
    on Jan 27, 2020

    You should clean it thoroughly with this product:

    Hope this Helps! Jeremy -

  • TheHoneycombHome
    on Jan 30, 2020

    These work surprisingly well!

  • Kmdreamer
    on Jan 31, 2020

    Wash it out with a bleach cleaner and let air dry

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