Removing musty smell from dresser drawers

Wanda Ball
by Wanda Ball
I have a couple of dressers that were stored in my basement that now have a musty smell in the drawers. I was wondering if anyone has ever dealt with the issue and has a resolution. I did read somewhere to use charcoal filters to absorb the odor. Wondering if anyone has tried this and if so did it work and if it did what type of filter did you purchase?
  28 answers
  • Joyce Joyce on Mar 09, 2016
    Try wetting crumpled newspaper pages. Stuff as many as you can in the drawers and close them. If not completely gone when papers dry, repeat with new papers. Don't get so wet that it drips on drawer, as will ruin wood. Something in the print of the papers pulls the smell. Don't use the shiny, slick paper. You should notice the smell in the papers when you remove.
  • Tazzy Tazzy on Mar 09, 2016
    Sprinkle Bicarb into the drawers brush around to get in all corners / crevices leave overnight hoover out Smell should be gone... or mix white vinegar in water and wipe dampened cloth all over the insides of the drawers.. the vinegar smell takes the damp smell away..
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Mar 09, 2016
    Spray them down with a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water. Let dry and put open boxes of baking soda in them.
  • Michelle Nielsen Michelle Nielsen on Mar 09, 2016
    Cat litter apparently works for musty old suit cases worth a try cheap and easy good luck
  • Margaret Margaret on Mar 09, 2016
    charcoal leave for several days in drawers. wala
  • Grace Grace on Mar 09, 2016
    I bought cat litter from dollar tree and pour it in it. I think it helped somewhat. If nothing else helps, you might want to make sure the drawers are completely dry and then paint them. I haven't tried that, but a blogger told me that, and I may try on the inside of vintage suit case I have. I would love to know what you ended up doing and if it worked. Good luck! :)
  • Lynn Lynn on Mar 09, 2016
    i have used both baking soda, lightly sprayed vinegar and baby power, all at different times. all have worked. leave out in nice weather a day or two and you should be good.
  • Patricia Prinkey Patricia Prinkey on Mar 09, 2016
    The above are great tries. You could lightly damp a piece of old cloth with fabric softener and put it in the bottom drawer. Then there are other tries such as newspaper, letting it out in the sun, wiping out drawers with clorox and water. Last summer I happened upon a drawer find and it was musty. I ended up painting and stenciling the dresser. My opinion is do not paint the drawers inside as you may be containing the issue.
  • Wanda Ball Wanda Ball on Mar 09, 2016
    Great tip. I will try this. Thanks for replying to my question.
  • Sharon Seiber Sharon Seiber on Mar 09, 2016
    I got a very nice set of canisters, but the lids were wooden, and stunk of mold. I thought I was going to have to ditch them because of the lids. One of the ladies on here, told me about using vanilla extract. I used cotton balls and wiped them off and let them air dry, and it worked beautifully. I did have to do it a couple of days. I bet you could swipe it across the drawers, then leave a couple of cotton balls with it, in the drawers. Possibly for a couple of days. The plastic on the bottom of the lids was rank, but cleaned right up. I sure was grateful!
  • Linda Kish Linda Kish on Mar 09, 2016
    I have tried most everything on several antiques I purchased. What turned out to be the very best and fastest was peroxide. I sprayed it on the areas of unfinished wood liberally and let it air dry.
  • Audrey Trubshaw Audrey Trubshaw on Mar 09, 2016
    Put some cheap dryer sheets in it and let them sit a few days, they will absorb the odor. Keep some in it with whatever you store in it too.
  • Ducky Ducky on Mar 09, 2016
    if you in any way, can put outside in the sunshine ( drawers pulled out ) that would really help. Sunshine is a great cleaner !
  • Carla Carla on Mar 09, 2016
    I have used coffe beans to soak up smells like in a jewelry armoire I bought. The people were heavy smokers so it really smelled. I just put the beans in each one of the drawers, and the smell was all gone. Have the armoire for at least 15 years and no bad smells.
  • Penny Penny on Mar 09, 2016
    I bought an old night stand for $10 and didn't even think to check the drawers for smells. I also put them in the sunlight, and fresh air. I also sprayed them with a mixture of bleach and water, hoping to kill any mold that might be lingering. After all that, the smell seemed more or less gone. I was still concerned about the smell coming back once the drawers were closed with clothes in them. I opted to paint the inside of the drawers. No problems now.
    • Priscilla Priscilla on Mar 09, 2016
      @Penny I look for furniture at yard sales and I always bend and smell it , if it smells like the person has sprayed a room freshner then I need to think it over ,,, question is does it smell mildew do I want to buy it or not ,,,
  • Jamie Jamie on Mar 09, 2016
    Charcoal (for fish tank filters) cover bottom of pie tin, every other drawer. Let sit a few days don't peek :), give it a chance to work. Worked great for me! Good Luck
  • Mro4085547 Mro4085547 on Mar 09, 2016
    Take sheets of crumbled newspaper and stuff each drawer. The ink from the newsprint will absorb the smell. Margaret Prescott Valley, AZ
  • Snapoutofit Snapoutofit on Mar 09, 2016
    sprinkle with baby powder and let it sit, closed up, for a while then dump out? just a thought
  • Sandra Crosbie Sandra Crosbie on Mar 09, 2016
    I tried sprinkling baby powder in drawers from a desk which I got for free last year. It definitely didn't work. The smell has stayed there. I think I might just paint the inside of the drawers. Paint always wins. Lol!
  • G G on Mar 09, 2016
    Dryer sheets in back of drawer under clothes
  • Mre Mre on Mar 09, 2016
    Newspaper stuffed in draws and sprinkle with baking soda or bbq brickets put those in a throway container let it set for a few days
  • Chris Smith Chris Smith on Mar 09, 2016
    I always clean thoroughly with sugar soap, water and an essential oil like lavender. If that doesn't work, then I leave bicarbonate of soda in a bowl for a week.
  • Margaret Hosfelt Margaret Hosfelt on Mar 10, 2016
    years ago I bought an antique dresser for my baby nursery, the drawers had a musty smell...the owner of the shop recommended wiping with an old t-shirt using a vinegar and water solution...worked like a charm. I have used this tip ever since :)
  • pour in some kitty litter
  • Gayla Mitchell Gayla Mitchell on Mar 12, 2016
    Your basement has a lot of humidity. I suggest you get a dehumidifier and put in your basement to get rid of the humidity as it will cause mold on your wood sub-floors and smell and spores can seep in the upstairs especially when a furnace is on in winter. Make sure you don't have a very little leak in a pipe also. That is what the musty smell is. Garage sales or thrift stores are a good place to buy used dehumidifier for $3-5. Do as Margaret Hosfelt says and wipe with cider vinegar that kills the mold spores on the wood and put outside to thoroughly dry out. When wood is dry the smell will be gone. Dryer sheets rubbed on wood will help too, along with one left in drawers. I repair antique furniture and it always worked for me. I would make sure to use furniture polish to seal the wood before you are going to use them but only after the dressers are dry. One sunny day will be enough to dry them.....
  • Sheila D Sheila D on Mar 15, 2016
    I wiped drawers down with vinegar & water (1/2 & 1/2) when dry, kitty litter with drawers closed for a day or two. Then open up outside on a sunny day.
  • Wanda Ball Wanda Ball on Mar 15, 2016
    I'm waiting to try the suggestions.