4 Steps To Get Rid Of That Musty Smell

5 Materials
6 Hours

This dresser stinks.

It may be curvy, old, and beautiful, but it has that musty smell. The tell tale sign it’s been sitting a bit too long in someone’s basement. Let me teach you how to clean and restore both the inside and the outside of an old piece so it will last for years to come (and so you aren’t afraid to put your clothes in those drawers).

Time to get to work!

1. Vacuum

First things first to get rid of that musty smell, grab your shop vac and get rid of the dust, cobwebs, spiders, and sawdust. 

2. Spray & Wipe Clean

Next clean with White Lightning and wipe off with a paper towel. REPEAT until the towel wipes clean. 

3 & 4. Sunshine and Conditioning

After spraying and wiping, set the piece in the sun to dry. The sun helps deodorize it too.

Next up - wood conditioner and deodorizer. Big Mama’s Butta soft wax re-hydrates the wood and has a nice smell that keeps drawers smelling like roses (or oranges, or just clean wood – depending on the scent you chose). Apply a generous amount with an old rag, and rub into the wood. No more musty smell!

Bring back the luster!

I decided to sand and apply a layer of water based wood stain – Antique Oak - to the drawers. I sealed the wood with Hemp Oil. This soaks into the dry old wood and makes it come to life! 

Cleaned and Restored

The case of the dresser was painted in Dixie Belle’s Antebellum Blue – a stunning color, that I cannot get enough of and looks great with wood. New simple brass knobs finish off this piece just perfectly.

Now the inside and the outside is like a whole new dresser!

Check out my other popular YouTube DIY tutorials here. I promise to inspire you to create the home you love.

Connect with me:

Facebook @RootsandWingsFurniture

IG: @rwfurniture

where I'll offer tips and advice on home projects plus show off my new soy candle line!

Resources for this project:

See all materials
Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Hometalk may collect a small share of sales from the links on this page.More info

Jenni Ingram
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Jane Jane on Nov 10, 2019

    The link to your resources for White Lightening is for a hoof cleaner. My guess is that you really used Dixie Belle White Lightening cleaner. Is that correct?

  • Kharla Kharla on Oct 30, 2020

    your product links are pretty confusing. Do you really mean Dixie Belle White Lightning cleaner (which is $5 and makes A LOT of cleaner) Or the linked $76 stuff which isn’t exactly a cleaner at all. The Big Mama’s Butta link is equally confusing!! 😉

  • Leslie Leslie on Oct 30, 2021

    I thought the wood of the dresser was a form of Tiger Wood, which has a few different designs in the wood but am not sure. Beautiful originally but I understand why the need to clean well. What are the darker spots on the drawer fronts after you cleaned and re-stained from? I am not fond of painting antiques that are not ruined, that being said your dresser came out well. Did you think to paint the knobs the same color blue to tie everything together? If you are not sure you can always use new knobs and paint or even use paper circles of the blue paint to see if you like or not.


Join the conversation

2 of 27 comments
  • Carol F Carol F on Oct 30, 2021

    Great job with the cleaning tips inside the drawers, very useful!

    Your piece looks fantastic 😃

  • 34354174 34354174 on Oct 30, 2021

    It looks lovely with the paint....but since you painted, please take the word restore out of your opening statement.

    These are built and made to be wood. Otherwise they could just use particle... or any other cheap wood/board.... and paint them.

    Most can be repaired and "restored" unless they are truly a lost cause. This looked far from a lost cause.