How to Remove Musty Smells from Furniture


Shannon asked: How do I get the musty smell off of furniture? We are in the process of moving. The house we are moving from has a mold problem because it is covered by trees and was built on a cement slab. Everything smells musty. When we move, I do not want to take the smell of the musty house over to our new place. Any tips on how to get the smell out of furniture, mattresses, etc. besides throwing them out and starting over?

Musty smells in furniture can be a sign that mildew has begun to grow inside the cushions and fabric. If it is merely an odor, it can be removed relatively easily. However, if mold has begun to grow, the problem may be much larger and difficult to treat.

You Will Need:

  • Vacuum
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Water
  • Soft cloths
  • Spray bottle
  • Fungicide spray

Steps to Remove the Musty Smell:

  1. Begin by vacuuming the furniture to remove any loose dirt and pull out mold spores. It is helpful to do this outdoors to prevent spreading the spores throughout the house.
  2. Next, mix one part denatured alcohol with one part water.
  3. Moisten a soft cloth with the mixture. Wring it out well so that it is just slightly damp.
  4. Wipe the surfaces of the upholstery with the cloth.
  5. Allow it to dry completely.
  6. If possible, set the furniture in direct sunlight for several hours to allow the UV rays from the sun to kill any mold spores that might be present.
  7. If none of the above methods remove the mold, spray the couch with a fungicide spray.
  8. Allow it to air dry completely.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • If there is no mold present, just a musty smell, see our guide How to Remove Body Odor from Furniture for odor removal techniques. Although the guide was originally written for body odors, the same odor removal techniques will apply.
  • If the mold is in the cushions of the couch, it will be necessary to have it professionally cleaned or replace the cushions. Some storage facilities have fumigation facilities that are able to clean mold and mildew from these items.
  • Mold and mildew require moisture to thrive. Try to keep the environment as dry as possible. Dehumidifiers and heaters both help to dry the air and lower the moisture levels.
  • Always test cleaning products on a small, hidden area first to check for color fastness.


  1. Nikki says:

    This was a helpful article, however, I have a similar issue with furniture we purchased that was in a home we recently bought. The furniture is cherry or mahogany colored wood and the headboard of the bed and the dresser have a strange smell. I assume its from the previous owners…we thought it was the bedroom that the furniture was in, but we recently moved again and took the furniture with us and it still smells. Should I try vinegar and water? Someone please help; we can’t afford to buy anything new right now for this spare bedroom!

  2. Melinda says:

    I have purchased brand new furniture that has the smell you are mentioning. I believe it is the smell of the wood and the processing technique.

Leave a Comment