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Old 08/14/11, 12:09 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: the flat land of Illinois
Posts: 4,662
how to remove musty smell from antique furniture?

I've got an old, old jelly cabinet that sat in the garage for 2 years - just brought it in, washed it 2x inside and out, and have it sitting, drawers pulled and doors open, a fan blowing for the last 24 hours into the interior.

Still smells musty and a bit like mouse urine though greatly improved.

My only remaining idea for clearing out the bad smells are to put cotton balls with some orange essential oil into the corners and maybe some charcoal odor absorbers (like litter box ones) on the undersides of the shelves.

I plan on fully stripping/repairing/refinishing it this winter (it needs it - someone partially refinished it before) but need the storage space right now.

Any ideas on to better control/remove the bad smell before using it?

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Old 08/14/11, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 5,142
Chlorine dioxide is the trick:

Ozone may also help. You can buy ozone generators from many sources.
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Old 08/14/11, 01:45 PM
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: WA
Posts: 1,788
The mouse urine would greatly put me off from using it to store foodstuffs. Is it to be used for foodstuffs or linens?

I'd keep working on it before I started using it.

Maybe for a month or two, use the charcoal with bunches of fresh crushed herbs in the drawers (that you enjoy), or the essential orange oil or some fresh lavender bunches.

Good luck to you!
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Old 08/14/11, 01:58 PM
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Original recipe!
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: NC foothills
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Sunshine and fresh air are great as well.
It took a long time for the smells to build up and it will take some time for them to fade.
The herbs and essential oils are a great bet too.
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Old 08/14/11, 02:27 PM
on furlough-downsized
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: WV, FINALLY! (zone 5b)
Posts: 1,516
Did you use some vinegar in the rinse water?
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Old 08/14/11, 02:42 PM
Murphy was an optimist ;)
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 25,863
Arm & Hammer baking soda works for me.
"Nothing so needs reforming as other peoples habits." Mark Twain
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Old 08/14/11, 03:49 PM
Ouch! Pinch you.
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 1,869
Like Chickenista, I was thinking sunshine - if it won't harm the wood/finish. A few hours of sunshine might help.
If you take responsibility for yourself, you will develop a hunger to accomplish your dreams. Les Brown
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Old 08/14/11, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: N E Washington State
Posts: 4,606
They tell you to use bleach when cleaning up after mice to kill Hanta (sp?) virus. It will do a pretty good job of getting rid of mouse smell. If you are in an area that this virus is around be careful-it can kill you.
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Old 08/14/11, 05:22 PM
luvrulz's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Kentucky
Posts: 3,232
I'd set it outside so the sun can burn it off - the smells and all will clear up. Does it look like rain? :-)
Be a fountain, not a drain!

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Old 08/14/11, 06:16 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 13,853
Originally Posted by chickenista View Post
Sunshine and fresh air are great as well.
It took a long time for the smells to build up and it will take some time for them to fade.
The herbs and essential oils are a great bet too.
+1 here also.
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Old 08/14/11, 07:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: NE Oklahoma
Posts: 1,159
Washing with soap and bleach would be great to get rid of anything. For the odor of smell in old furniture, that is money. Worth more than new. I use a really nice smelling soap in each drawer and a fabric softner and it will get better, and as time goes by, it will go away. Just find a soap bar with a smell you like and put in in.
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Old 08/14/11, 11:53 PM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: MI
Posts: 892
When there are strong smells in a semi-trailer that has a wood floor, fresh ground coffee is poured on the wood to cover the smell. It sits there a while and then is swept out of the trailer.

IDK if you could adapt this someway to your situation, perhaps some coffee grounds in out of sight places under a large plastic bag?
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Old 08/16/11, 12:57 AM
Registered User
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 9,511
I agree...sunshine and fresh air for as long as possible.
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Old 08/16/11, 08:01 AM
Haven's Avatar
I agree with Pancho
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 2,970
I scrubbed mine down with Murphey's Oil Soap, then wiped it down with lemon oil multiple times while it aired out in the sun. Helped a lot, but I think it may be impossible to remove the antique furniture smell completely, unless maybe you seal it with a clear coat.
"For if you start dancing on tables, fanning yourself, feeling sleepy when you pick up a book... making love whenever you feel like it, then you know. The south has got you.
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Old 08/16/11, 08:37 AM
where I want to's Avatar  
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: True Northern California
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I have a tiger maple victorian chest of drawers that had a bad mildewy/moldy smell. It took several treatments but I did get the smell out using a dilute bleach solution and using toothbrush and tooth picks to clean out all the cracks. I did also set the drawers out into the sun, flipping them over to expose all sides.
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Old 08/16/11, 09:04 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: northcentral MN
Posts: 14,962
Fill the drawers with fresh pine shavings and let it sit closed up for a couple of weeks.

A friend of mine moved into a home that just stunk from the previous tenant. They covered every floor in the house with 6" of fresh pine shavings and let it sit for a week. When they shoveled it all back out the house smelled great and the bad smell never came back.
"Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?" Hobbs
"I'm not sure that man needs the help." Calvin
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Old 08/16/11, 05:04 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 1,555
I agree with sunshine and fresh air. I had an old desk I'd got at a garage sale and washing it down, then airing it outside for several days (we had a hot and sunny stretch) Also put those charcoal odor absorbers in the drawers while it was outside. It had smelled like cigarette smoke, but I didn't notice any smoke smell anymore when I was through with all that.
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Old 08/17/11, 07:43 PM
Brenda Groth
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Michigan
Posts: 7,817
not just old furniture but new furniture, esp oak, can stink !

what i did for a new table that smelled bad was to keep cleaning it with cleaners that had smells in them and with cleaners that removed smells often as took about a year for the smell to finally go completely away..

the smells are worse when there is high humidity
Brenda Groth
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Old 08/17/11, 07:51 PM
doll maker/ ND goats
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Northern Maine
Posts: 482
Oh this is a timely thread. We just cleaned out my MIL place and she was a person who needed to added any smell to everything. Even the furniture stinks of the perfumey smell. I love these suggestions.
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