How can I troubleshoot a smelly kitchen island?

Amber Vogelpohl
by Amber Vogelpohl

Our kitchen island cabinets smell and this is a new build. The island has our sink and dishwasher and started to smell a few weeks after moving in. It’s almost like it’s the cabinet wood that stinks. They have done smoke tests, leak tests, checked the garbage disposal, removed cabinets, etc. They are replacing the dishwasher because it was installed without a heat shield but I’m afraid that isn’t the issue because the smell is there without the dishwasher running although it does get worse when it is running. Any advice?

  10 answers
  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Aug 19, 2019

    You don't say what kind of "stink". Are your cabinets sealed? Try putting activated charcoal out on newspaper for an odor absorber. OdoBan is a good disinfectant and odor eliminator but without knowing the source this may be a constant battle.

  • The Inspired Workshop The Inspired Workshop on Aug 19, 2019

    I know you say it's like the wood smells, but can you tell me what it smells like, burning smell, formaldehyde smell, sewer smell, nasty drain smell...musty odor, moldy odor! It could be the wood they built the cabinets/island with. It could be the paint/stain/sealer they put on the island. I know they recently painted my aunt's kitchen and used oil based paints, and you cannot even eat the food that comes out of one of the cabinets (it's a pantry cabinet) because it smells so badly like the paint! Anyway, if you can let us know more about the actual smell, maybe we can be of more help!

  • Amber Vogelpohl Amber Vogelpohl on Aug 19, 2019

    The cabinets are stained and sealed. The smell is more of a musky, moldy, almost chemical smell. To be honest, it’s hard to describe because it doesn’t smell like nasty water or drain gunk, but it is pungent! It’s not a rotten dead animal smell and the builder has already tried a deodorizer spray. We are under warranty right now and they keep looking into problems but coming up with nothing. The same cabinet company did the entire kitchen, brand new and the back cabinets with the stove/oven doesn’t smell at all when you open them but the island does and it has all of the plumbing. It smells in all of the cabinets across it.

    • The Inspired Workshop The Inspired Workshop on Aug 19, 2019

      That has to be so frustrating Amber! Brand new home and you are having to deal with this! Ugh! I wonder if it could be the PVC glue? Typically if they mix it on the pipes the smell dissipates after a few hours, but I wonder if they could have spilled some of one can (the cement or the primer) and it isn't curing because it takes the reaction of the other? But I would think you would see a stain...I am at a loss here!

  • Pat Pat on Aug 19, 2019

    Sounds like it could be the plumbing? Were all the p-traps put in and are not dry, letting sewer smell come up? While your house is in warranty, I would keep looking.

  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Aug 19, 2019

    It could be the PVC glue that stuff is wicked smelling, takes awhile to disappate. This whole situation would be very upsetting, becareful with children in area or small pets all of which are highly susceptable to odors especally if they could be toxic.

  • Amber Vogelpohl Amber Vogelpohl on Aug 19, 2019

    The plumbers are saying everything checks out except the heat shield on the dishwasher. Could that be causing a smell though? To me it just radiates the smell but it doesn’t seem to be the cause. Could I just buy some pvc glue and see if the smell is similar to rule it out? Someone else was mentioning to me to check the air syphon vent, but I’m not familiar. I appreciate the feedback.

  • Crystal Lange Medrano Crystal Lange Medrano on Apr 08, 2021

    Did you ever figure it out. We have exact same smell.

    • Marie Zenteno Marie Zenteno on Mar 03, 2023

      Did anyone who had this issue resolve it? I am going thru the same problem and had to move out of house.

  • Marie Zenteno Marie Zenteno on Mar 03, 2023

    We're you able to figure out where the smell came thru and what it was? We have the exact same problem.

  • Mogie Mogie on Mar 04, 2023

    Have you talked with whoever you bought the cabinets from they might of heard this before and know exactly what to do to fix this.