Getting The “Musty” Out!


August 19, 2014 by Terry

I recently acquired a beautiful Antique chest of drawers.  Absolutely lovely piece at least 100 years old…. Yes, lovely… a “must have”…

IMG_3128 IMG_3138Yes, She is a great find for sure … Until you get closer that is and realize how bad of shape she is in!  This chest of drawers is going to need A LOT of loving to bring her back to life!!!  She has some really great features that will make the whole process worth it in the end.  I can really see her potential and I can’t wait to get started.

Lets take a closer look…

PATINA!  She has a really great patina on the wood from the original finish… the “crocodile skin” patina is going to look absolutely stunning in a milk paint finish… color yet to be decided…

IMG_3134IMG_3135And of course…my favorite… she has the original metal castors! :)

IMG_3136Each of the 5 drawers has it’s own key hole.  Unfortunately, they are missing the actual mechanisms inside and out.  All but one.. it has the insides but no outside and no key :(

IMG_3137Lastly… She has a beautiful carved mirror that swivels crowning the top of her.  It is in perfect condition outside of missing a piece of wood on the base.

IMG_3133So while the outside is in rather rough shape, the inside is even worse…

The drawers are missing bottoms, or bottoms are falling out…

IMG_3131IMG_3141IMG_3132Loaded with spider eggs and spider webs… and just yuck in general.

IMG_3143The  only thing holding me back right now from jumping in to rescue her is that she has an incredibly offensive smell … sort of a sweet (not a good sweet…) musty smell.   She has such potential.  I have been trying to research how to remove smell from antiques and after reading for hours I am still unsure how to proceed.

She is so pretty, I would hate to have to give her up over a smell!


Any suggestions on how to get rid of the old dead smell of an antique?  I would be grateful for the tried and successful tricks you’ve used to get rid of offensive odors in furniture, so I don’t have to send this beauty to the grave yard!



Joining these linky parties:

Stone Gable’s THE SCOOP#132

Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Feature Friday


21 thoughts on “Getting The “Musty” Out!

  1. I’ve been sitting on a very similar piece for about a month now! I bought those odor absorber pods and left them in there, after about 2 weeks of switching them out the smell is finally gone :)


  2. What about good out baking soda? Can’t wait to see what you do…


    • I have considered that as well… I’m thinking it might end up needing a few different cures. Someone suggested to spray it with tea tree oil and vinegar as it kills the odor creating bacteria? Ugh! I’m undecided! I will start small I guess and just try baking soda etc first. Thanks for the visit!


  3. Oops good OLD baking soda


  4. glossndab says:

    This should be beautiful! Can’t wait to see what color you use.


  5. Donna Johnson says:

    Try Bounce Dryer Sheets.


    • Thank you Donna for the visit and taking the time to comment! I haven’t tried that yet. I have baking soda in there right now which helps but it could sure use a dose of a pretty scent! I’m almost leaning towards replacing the bottoms of each drawer…. hopefully bounce will make it so I don’t have to :0)


  6. Vanessa Bower says:

    I’ve had success with setting the dresser facing the sun, taking the drawers out of the dresser and setting them in the sunshine too. (I think you could keep the baking soda in there while in the sun.) It might take many days of doing this but it helped to “air out” the wood. Just to insure the smell was gone and/ or trapped forever, I polyurethane the entire inside and outside of the drawers (not the fronts)and the inside of the dresser. A real labor intense process but well worth it.
    I can’t wait to see your finished product.


  7. Felicia says:

    I recently had the exact same issue with an English piece that is about 200 years old. I used Febreze Set & Refresh in a crisp clean scent. That is no scent really. For my piece, which is a display cabinet, I used two of them and left them there for several days in the closed cabinet. That’s it! Worked like a charm and didn’t hide the smell with a heavy perfume.


  8. mimi says:

    Try stuffing it with wadded up newspaper and changing it out every few days. Another thing that works is kitty litter. I bought a fresh box and dumped some in a plastic tub and laid musty old children’s books in and more kitty litter on top. I left them in the covered tub for two weeks and when I fished the books out, no more smell. You could put fresh litter in some shallow boxes or trays and close the dresser up and leave for a while. Hope this works. Leaving it all opened up and in the sunshine may help some, too.


  9. Kimberly says:

    Hi Terry! I found you via MMS’s FFF link party.

    I did an entire blog post a couple years back about this very subject. Read it, and read the comments my readers left as well. One of them (Cindy) suggested using that cheap, old-fashion clay cat litter and letting it sit inside the furniture (and I’d spread it over top, too, and then probably tilt the thing on it’s side and spread it over the sides – inside and out – as well). Clay cat litter absorbs odors.

    You probably have mold if the smell is taking over your garage, and that mold is probably old and dead inside the piece and might not be showing up as a green or black film. Mold can have a sweet smell to it. It’s probably in the nooks and crannies of the piece as well.

    I’d suggest steps 2 and 3 from my post, then I’d put the dresser out in the sun (being careful not to let it get rained on or covered with dew because that might warp the wood), sometimes fresh air and the sun will work to “air out” a musty piece of furniture and UV light sometimes can help with mold.

    Then after several days of sun exposure, I’d do step 4 and then step 5 from my post. You may have to do step 4 and then put it back out in the sun, then do steps 2 and 3 again, then the clay cat litter thing again to totally get rid of the odor. You have to totally get rid of the odor before you do step 5 (painting the piece) because even with paint, sometimes mold will still stink!

    Good luck. She’s a pretty piece that is going to be require a lot of time and effort put into fixing her up, but I’m sure it can be done!




      This is the BEST advice I’ve gotten!! I have been trying to be patient and have wasted a bit of time on things that haven’t helped too well.
      I sooooooo appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge! :0) Thank you for stopping by!


  10. Sally Wiedefeld says:

    Try shellac, that will kill the odors.


  11. […] been working on my (click on it to see) smelly dresser and hope to share that makeover with you […]


  12. […] this piece?  My “musty” smelly Chest of drawers? Well she is “musty” and “smelly” no more!!!  She is stunning in her new […]


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