Asked on Jan 16, 2018

How to get rid of "old lady smell" in a dresser

Shivany Lane
by Shivany Lane
I have a matched set of dressers. One is the typical 3 drawers wide and 3-4 draws tall. The other is taller with 7 drawers. They originally belonged to my grandmother. I would like to refinish them to look more modern so I can actually use them. The problem they have is what I call "old lady smell". (no offense to older women, I am one myself). Everything I have stored in the drawers tends to come out smelling kind of like my grandmother. Her perfumes and other scented items she wore.
The furniture is well made, solid wood. The drawers are also solid wood and not MDF. I have thought of lining the drawers with cedar, but then everything will smell of cedar. I don't want to paint the insides if I can help it, I would like to preserve the beauty of the wood. That is how I plan on refinishing the outside, by stripping the varnish and staining the wood.
I am sensitive to smells so I think I may be the only person who notices it, but I can't wear anything I have put in the drawers.

  8 answers
  • Amanda Amanda on Jan 16, 2018

    Hi Shivany. You can usually remove the smell from furniture by filling plastic containers with white vinegar. Then seal and punch holes in the lids. Put one on each side of the drawer of cabinet overnight. If they are really bad you can dampen a cloth with vinegar and wipe them down. I would also make sashet with baking soda to help absorb the smell. Good Luck!

  • Joy30150932 Joy30150932 on Jan 16, 2018

    Put some Bounce sheets in the drawers and let sit for a while.

  • Karen Tokarse Karen Tokarse on Jan 16, 2018

    Put a bowl of spent coffee grounds inside and leave for a few days.

  • Larry wallace Larry wallace on Jan 16, 2018

    When we went camping and fishing a lot our coolers would get all kinds of funky smells. the best, easiest and back then, one of the least expensive was to buy a gum that smells good to you and put a stick of gum in each drawer and leave it there. Now, I think my go to solution would be to spray good ole Febreeze heavily onto all the bare wood. I've sprayed a lot of things with it and never had a stain on any material. Good luck

  • Linda Barrett Dirksen Linda Barrett Dirksen on Jan 16, 2018

    Put a small bowl of vinegar in each drawer overnight. It will neutralize the odor. 2nd option, sprinkle with baking soda and lightly spread to cover the bottom. Vacuum out in 24 hrs

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Jan 16, 2018

    cedar chips,coffee grounds,baking soda,wash them with white vinegar,or de-activated charchol

  • Melanie Czoka Melanie Czoka on Jan 16, 2018

    Wash with vinegar, and let sit in the sun.

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Jan 17, 2018

    I ended up wetting the inside of a dresser with a solution tea tree oil and water. That got most of the mold smell out, ( I know you don't have mold) but I still ended up having to paint the inside with Zinsser primer. And that's after setting the drawers in the sun, using coffee grounds, using vinegar in a cup and other DIY solutions that didn't work. Hopefully all you need to do is to spray with Tea Tree Oil.