Paula said, “I have a problem with every closet in my apartment with the wood shelves they smell awful, and they all smell the same, what can I do to get rid of the smell, and it’s not mold or mildew?”
Although we tend to think of wood as being solid and sturdy, it is actually a porous material that can absorb odors or bacteria. Giving it a thorough cleaning may be enough to remove these odors, but there are some other ways to deodorize wood as well. Follow the steps below to remove the smell.
Removing the Odor
You Will Need:
- Dish liquid
- A cloth
- White Vinegar
- A spray bottle
- Hydrogen peroxide
- A bowl
- Coffee grounds
- Baking soda
- Dustpan and brush
- A vacuum
Steps to Remove the Odor:
- To generally clean the surface, use dish liquid. Dip a cloth in soapy water, wring it out so that it’s not dripping, and wipe the surface of the wood clean. Wipe the area with a damp cloth with only water on it to rinse, then pat the wood dry with a dry cloth. To save time, combine steps 1 and 2 by adding mixing some white vinegar into the soapy water.
- Combine 1 part white vinegar with 4 parts water. Put the solution in a spray bottle, spray it onto the wood, then wipe the spray over the surface with a cloth. Wipe the area with a damp cloth that has only water on it to rinse. Pat the wood dry afterward.
- Another way to disinfect the wood is to use 3% hydrogen peroxide. Pour it into a spray bottle, spray it onto the wood, then wipe the spray over the surface with a cloth. Wipe the area with a damp cloth with only water on it to rinse, then pat the wood dry with a dry cloth.¹
- After cleaning the wood, leave the closet door open for as long as needed to allow the wood to air dry completely, as well as to help it air out any remaining odors.
- If any odor remains once the wood is dry, leave a bowl filled with either white vinegar or coffee grounds near the wood or on one of the shelves overnight with the closet door closed. Keep in mind that although the coffee grounds will remove the odor, they will deposit a coffee odor in its place, whereas the vinegar smell will go away. Repeat this process as many times as needed for the odor to be completely removed.¹
- Another option for deodorizing the wood is to sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over it. Let the baking soda sit overnight, then sweep it off or vacuum it up. Repeat this process as many times as needed for the odor to be completely removed.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Always test a cleaning solution on a small, hidden area of a surface first to ensure it is safe for that specific surface.
- It is important to dry wood quickly. Do not allow moisture to sit on the wood without patting it dry, as water can cause the wood to crack or warp.
- Some odors are obvious like cigarette smoke or mildew. For those, see the article How to Remove Cigarette Smell from Wooden Furniture or How to Remove Mildew Smell from Wood Doors.
- If the wood is made of particle board or plywood, which cabinets and furniture may be, the wood probably has had pesticides applied to it and it likely contains glue that is made with formaldehyde. If the smell won’t go away, it’s possible that this is the cause, which would mean replacing the wood completely. You may be able to control the odor by keeping a deodorizer, such as a bowl of baking soda, near the wood at all times and replacing the baking soda regularly.¹
- Super Natural Home by Beth Greer