Seal smell in dresser drawers?

SheeshareeIIMay 25, 2012

The 2nd hand dresser we bought for the nursery is just about finished. My problem is the funky perfume smell in the drawers! I tried putting them in the sun all day, baking soda, and I just recently put charcoal in each of the drawers but they still smell.

Someone suggested dryer sheets but I use Charlie's Soap and don't like my clothes smelling like anything but fresh air. I also don't want to try and mask the smell but remove it.

I've been reading you can seal the smell in wood but don't know much about it. Some people are suggesting poly and others are saying use a 'wood sealer'. Any suggestions? I'm running out of time and I really need to get this finished up. I'd like to pick something up tomorrow while I'm out.

I would hate to put all the washed clothes in the drawers and have them smelling like that. Yuck.

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I bought a vintage dresser from CL that had spiller perfume smell in one of the top drawers that went all through the others. Pretty putrid stuff, too, didn't want my clothes absorbing it. (Sensitive to fragrance, it's a headache trigger. I use C Soap, too for that reason.) There are 3 rows of drawers, so I bought 3 Natural Magic tubs (Lowes, Ace, Home Depot). One tub will cover 400' square feet or so, so only one would have been necessary based on that guideline, but I really wanted to get rid of that smell. So I put one tub in each row of drawers and left the drawers cracked about 1 1/2 inches (needs a little air flow to work best). Every few days I rotated the tubs between the top, middle and lower drawer in their respective row of drawers. It takes about 2 weeks for the Natural Magic to work in rental houses, and that's about what it took in the dresser but it absorbed all the perfume odor. Cost is about $4.50 per tub. NM has a scent to it but it's not a masking fragrance, they are an absorbing gel. I use them all the time in rentals up for viewing or pets areas, etc. If you can spare a couple weeks without using the dresser, I'd recommend that route first.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 5:31AM
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Moon - Oh, good! I'm glad to hear you've had success using them! I never heard of the Natural Magic tubs and had to look them up. I was picturing a plastic tub/bin for 'tub'. Please tell me brain cells rejuvenate after baby's born. :)

Are they located in with the cleaning stuff?

I originally meant to add that if anyone had other suggestions I'd love to hear!


    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 6:55AM
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LOL, I thought you meant your dresser drawers smelled like a seal! Good luck getting the smell masked. I would have tried everything you already did.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 8:13AM
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I picked up a small chest of drawers from our curbside junk day. Once home I knew the reason it was on the curb - it had been stored in a damp place, and the wood smelled musty, moldy. I asked on the Antique forum and there were several suggestions to use shellac to seal in the smell so that's what I did figuring I'd put it on OUR curb if it didn't work! It's up in our guest room now and pretty much smell free. Part of the problem with my piece is the wood was so damaged from moisture the smell is deep inside the wood fibers. I'm guessing your piece doesn't have those issues so shellac should work well for you.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 8:16AM
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Gscience - HAHA! Oops.

Dlm - Did you paint yours. I'll admit I'm feeling lazy and the thought of a spray shallac sounds tempting. I'm not convinced I could keep it just inside the drawers thought. Did yours dry/cure fairly quick? How about the shellac smell?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 9:09AM
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shee, tape off the edges and front of drawers and spray away- or rather let your DH spray away- once its dry its safe, but it is not safe for preggers to use.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 10:01AM
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Like gscience, my first thought went to the animal. Have you ever been to San Francisco down by the pier where all those seals congregate? Ewww, what a stench. If that's the smell you will just have to throw that bureau out.

Remember this ad?
what is that smell?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 10:23AM
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Another Charlie's Soap user here (thanks GW friends)
I am looking at my Natural Magic container now...front
of it says "Odor Absorbing Gel" ...this one is in the
"Brushed Cotton" scent....anyway, I have beed buying them
for over 10yrs-when our lab was sprayed by a skunk this is what worked to get the smell out of the house.
Works great for removing most unwanted odors...IMO
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 10:57AM
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Right, we have the thread about San Francisco, so seals were definitely on my mind! I'll see (and smell) them soon, LOL.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 11:57AM
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Shee I responded on the Woodworking forum.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 1:02PM
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Cooper - I can't believe I didn't think about taping off the painted part. I'd do it outside with a respirator.

Hhireno - I've never been to SF. I never gave a thought to seals being stinky! It definitely could be a worse smell. Some people might even LIKE the smell of the drawers. I really wish I did!

Irish - From reading about those, it sounds like you have to replace them every so often? I think I'm going to buy both the absorbers and something for in the drawers while I'm out. If I don't end up using the absorbers in the drawers I have some other places I'd like to try them. I'm glad to hear they worked for you too.

Tuesday - Thanks! I'm really leaning towards a spray vs. brush.

However... if only the inside of the drawers are sealed, is it safe to assume the smell might not completely be gone since it could be in the inside and under side of the dresser? Does that make sense?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 2:54PM
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Shee I didn't paint, left the wood natural and there's nothing on it but the spray shellac both inside and out. I sanded the whole piece first. You may need to sand the insides of the drawers (you, meaning Mr Shee!) and maybe even the inside of the dresser itself since that wood generally has little to no finish coat on it - the smell would permeate that part, too. And of course, don't you do the spraying! Once dried, it has very little odor and shellac is not a petroleum product so you don't have those worries - it's a natural, organic product.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 3:01PM
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Thanks for the info Dlm.

I don't know if I feel like crying or screaming about this dresser. Perhaps a little of both. If only I just would've taken care of this before we went through everything we did to refinish it. :(

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 3:43PM
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shee, yes, located near cleaning supplies at Lowe's, HDepot and Ace. I really think you'll like them, and yes, once done getting the perfume odor sucked out of the dresser, you will still have a good couple months (if not more) use from them. I use them in my car, some closets, all over the house. I'm kind of addicted to them, I guess :)

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 8:00PM
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Shee, yes, you have to replace them but they last a long
time. My mom is 93 and when she stays for the weekend
I keep two in her room which keeps it smelling fresh...
IYKWIM...I open one in the kitchen if I make her egg salad as DH can't stand the smell of boiled eggs, but I digress, that would be for your thread on "picky eaters"

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 7:26AM
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If you leave it outside in the sun long enough, the smell will eventually dissipate permanently. You'd have to put it out there every day for weeks, though, and of course you don't want rain or dew on your new furniture. If you do this, place the drawers on a piece of webbed lawn furniture or similar so the air can get at the bottom of the drawer box while the sun bakes the top of the inside.

I use the gels, too.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 9:07PM
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