How to Rid Wood Furniture of Musty Odor


If you have found the ideal piece of wood furniture at a yard sale, flea market or in your grandmother's basement, you may feel like you've hit the jackpot. That is, until you get it home, bring it into your house and discover that it has a musty odor. Wood often smells musty as a result of humidity, which can lead to mold and mildew. If your wood furniture is untreated, the musty smell may be particularly strong.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood soap
  • Dehumidifier
  • Sandpaper
  • Paint or stain
  • Coffee grounds
  • Charcoal
  • Bowls
  • Vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Wash your furniture with a good wood soap, preferably an oil-based formula. Use a clean rag and work into all the crevices of the wood. Remove handles if necessary in order to get underneath them. Wood soap is designed to kill bacteria, which may remove the musty smell without the need for further treatment.

  • Dehumidify your wood furniture. Keep it in a controlled environment with a dehumidifier running and the door closed, or set it outside in the sunlight, bringing it in at night. You may start to smell improvement in just a few days.

  • Strip the furniture and allow the wood to breathe. This may be as simple as sanding down a lightly-stained end table or using paint stripper to remove layers of latex paint from an upright piano. Let the stripped wood dry well before repainting or staining it.

  • Place a bowl of coffee grounds or crushed charcoal in the drawers of musty dressers, tables and armoires. Both are odor-absorbing substances that work to draw the musty smell out of your furniture. Replace the bowl every few days until the smell is gone.

  • Spritz your wood furniture with undiluted vinegar. This natural mildew fighter can help remove musty odors from your wood furniture. Wipe down your furniture after treating it with vinegar and allow it to dry in the sun.

Tips & Warnings

  • Consult an expert before refinishing antique furniture; this could significantly affect the value of the furniture.

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  • Photo Credit chair image by hazel proudlove from
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