How to Get Rid of That Musty Antique Furniture Smell

How to Get Rid of That Musty Antique Furniture SmellAntique furniture tells a story. It carries the weight of history, whispering of conversations, of lives, of time passed.

It’s also ecofriendly (we love that!). Few things can boast such longevity. And generally speaking, antique furniture is also very well made. If it’s withstood constant use and hung around so long it must be, right?

Yet not everything about antique furniture is so fantastic. While that 200 year old chifforobe completes your bedroom, the 200 year old smell isn’t so fabulous.

We’ve found a few different ways to eliminate that musty odor, but you may have to play around to figure out which one is going to work best for you.

You’ll see varying degrees of success with each of these methods, but sometimes you can combine one or two to make them more effective.

Baking Soda in a Dish

Baking soda is well known as a powerful deodorizer. We use it in our refrigerators, washing machines and garbage disposals.

Yet when it comes to antique furniture, its effectiveness may depend on how strong the stench is.

Simply pour about a cup of baking soda in a dish and place it inside the drawers or cabinets of your furniture.

If there are a lot of drawers, you may want to have two or three different dishes spread throughout the piece.

Let it sit for about a week and see what kind of result you get.

Vinegar…Also in a Dish

Great for removing food and cigarette smells, vinegar can also be used to deodorize your antique furniture. Again, this may depend on how deeply ingrained the stench is, but is certainly worth a try.

Pour about a cup of vinegar into a bowl and let it sit in the open air inside your furniture to deodorize and absorb mild odors.

Kitty Litter

This method works much better on older, stronger odors. Simply scoop some fresh litter into a bowl and let it sit inside the antique. If you have cats, make sure they can’t get in and leave you a surprise.

Try and get unscented litter. If you use the scented kind, you may be replacing one kind of smell for another. If scented is all you have, you can follow it up with the baking soda treatment to get rid of the floral smell.

An Onion…

While this may seem counterintuitive, it may actually do the trick — and in about 24 hours! Simply cut an onion in half, place it on a dish and put the dish in your antique.

It is possible that the onion will leave its own scent behind though, so be careful with this one. If it does, you can use the baking soda treatment to clear that out.

Fresh Air

Sometimes the piece just needs to be aired out. If you’re fortunate enough to have good weather, you can dissemble the piece (i.e. take out the drawers), place everything on cinderblocks and leave it outside for a couple days to let the fresh air dissipate the odors.

If good weather is a luxury you don’t have, you can simply open the windows in the room and leave the piece close by.


The smell will eventually dissipate over time, but these tricks can help speed up the process for you. Even if they don’t remove the odor completely, they can help minimize it.

Sometimes we even come to love that smell and appreciate it as an indicator of the age and history of our antique — like aged cheese or wine perhaps.

If you try any of these methods, we’d love to hear how they worked for you! Let us know in the comments.

1st Class Cleaning is a professional, ecofriendly cleaning service that serves residential and commercial property owners in the NYC area. Contact us today to schedule a major cleaning or set up a recurring cleaning service.

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