How to get stuffy drawers to an old dresser smelling fresh?


I just finished an old solid wood chest of drawers but the drawers smell stuffy. Is there such a thing a sandalwood spray? Or any other good smelling spray?

  14 answers
  • Mogie Mogie on Apr 10, 2021

    Allow the drawers to air out in the sun. A few days if possible, but I understand sometimes that’s not always an option.

    Place a small cup filled with borax or baking soda in each drawer and close the drawers. Let the borax or baking soda absorb the odors for a few days if possible.

    I’ve also placed dryer sheets in each drawer for a few days. Dryer sheets work best if the smell is tolerable and not overwhelming.

    Clean the drawers with a wood cleaner like Murphy’s Oil Soap. Again, you don’t want to saturate the wood so wipe with a cloth that is slightly damp.

    After taking the drawers out, use an odor eliminating spray like Febreeze or safe spray of your choice, inside the body of the dresser.

    Set some charcoal in the drawer and close it.

    Borax is a disinfectant, natural deodorizer anti-fungal and insect repellent. Borax is a white chalky mineral that you can find in the cleaning section of the supermarket. Because it's a mineral, wipe the drawer surfaces thoroughly after cleaning to avoid leaving a white stain or discoloration on the wood.

    Charcoal absorbs odors and impurities. Activated charcoal has been treated to have increased absorbing capabilities. Note that activated charcoal is not the same thing as charcoal briquettes. Although regular charcoal briquettes also absorb odors, DO NOT use lighter fluid pre-treated briquettes.

    Place several pieces of activated charcoal in a container and set inside each empty drawer. The activated charcoal will absorb any odors and "purify" the air in your drawer.

    As with baking soda, you'll have to place new charcoal in the drawers every few weeks or so if you can't find and eliminate the source of the odor. Be careful not to spill the charcoal or you'll have a permanent black stain on the wood and clothing from the spilled charcoal solids.

  • Janice Janice on Apr 10, 2021

    Hi Doris, Mogie's recommendations are all excellent. I've had great success with a musty smelling basement in an old home being freshened up with the charcoal briquettes she mentioned. Just place them in an open container inside the drawers and let them absorb the odor.

  • William William on Apr 10, 2021

    All else fails you can seal the odor in the wood

    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.

  • Em Em on Apr 10, 2021

    Wash the inside of the drawers VERY well with dish soap, and rinse well. Sit in the sun for several days when it is sunny. You can also put newspaper inside with a bowl of baking soda in each and close up for a few days as the paper and soda both absorb the odor.

  • Mk.saffi Mk.saffi on Apr 10, 2021

    vinegar (plain) and water 1:10

    option 1

    spray into it and let it dry.

    option 2

    soak in any cloth / tissue paper place it in the area.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Apr 10, 2021


    I would spray the inside with Febreez.

  • Here is how to make some deodorizing sachets for the drawers:

  • Add baking soda and let sit over night, air out outside. I would'nt spray with anything, you'll never get rid of it.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Apr 11, 2021

    Hello. A blogger I follow suggests to use vodka or a proprietary paint product by Dixie Belle called BOSS. I hope this helps!


    • See 1 previous
    • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Apr 11, 2021

      It’s an exciting thing to transform reuse recycle restore items and furniture. I just chalk painted a chair using chalk paint on furniture for the first time. I hope you find the perfect solution for your situation. Enjoy your refurbish restored furniture that you gave new life to.

      Kindest regards Karen

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Apr 12, 2021

    OdoBan comes in lavender. It will disinfect, deodorize, and add a nice scent.

  • Eliza Everett Eliza Everett on Jul 15, 2021

    Sealing it with several layers of coat, as others already said, will do the trick.

    After this, well, I do not remember the brand names - but there are products that you can put in a car or some other place that absorb odors. A jar of 'goo' you open and put it inside the car or whatever.

    Some are scented and others just absorb odors.

    We made one using salt and essential oils. Mix them together in a small bowl and put the bowl inside. Leave it here for a night or two.