Is it possible to remove heavy smell?

wilted_flowerMarch 28, 2007

When we moved into this house, the previous owner had some very nice custom wooden features made. One a built in wine rack with a nice large cabinet and drawers below the wine rack. Sadly, I have NO idea what the lady may have used to make this beautiful wood have such a HEAVY perfume scent.

I've tried everything I know to remove the odor because I"m allergic to highly perfumed odors. It's as bad as moving into a smoke infected house :( I'd hate to have to remove this wood, is there anyway it can be saved? When the house is closed up (winter) you can smell this sweet scent all through the house. It's over-powering and makes you cough. Please any ideas? We thought about trying to stain the inside of the drawers and cabinets but to be honest, I took one of the drawers outside and left it there for hours after washing with murphy oil soap and the bottom still had the smell to it?

Appreciate any help.

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How is the wood finished? can you simply give it one more coat?

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 8:54AM
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I can think of three things to try. If the perfume is solvent based, an orange oil cleaner, I think its called citrasolve or something like that, might work. An application of white vinegar might neutralize the odor, followed by an application of baking soda solution. All of these remedies should be tried on a drawer that is removed and taken outdoors.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 9:43AM
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I'm wondering whether it's a perfumed wax, in which case you might use naphtha to strip it off. Hopefully that's not the only finish on the wood.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 1:55PM
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The wood is an oak finish. The insides of the drawers however seem to be a pressed wood.

I have used Murphy's Oil soap, orange oil, and old english on the outsides..the outsides of the cabinet and drawers are fine. It's the smell that is either just embeded into the inside cabinets/drawers that is making the whole house smell like heavy perfume. It's kinda like those heavy scented envelopes you can buy to make closets smell good only this stuff doesn't go away :( I've put jars of vinegar inside the cabinet and left it for months..I've sprayed that stuff that is suppose to removed odors.

We are at our wits ends...hubby thought maybe spraying the inside of the cabinet and inside of the drawers with that clear sealer would work..I"m skeptical since I think I"m doomed with this smell...either we have to move or rip it all out? Perfume smells can be as nasty as cigarette smoke to sensitive people. To be honest, I wish it was a smoke smell, that you CAN get rid of with hard work..this seems to just keep coming back no matter what we do.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 5:10PM
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Contact someone with an ozone generator. A typical place would be a "Disaster Recovery" firm, some commercial carpet cleaners, or sometimes movers and warehouses. They are used to neutralize odors such as smoke, cadavers, urine, etc. Check with them to see if they think it will take care of the problem. There are portable units and large walk-in chambers that they use. You will need to leave the house while it's running as high concentrations of ozone is a health hazard.

Ozone is O3, that is an oxygen molecule with an extra oxygen atom. The extra atom is split off naturally and wants to react with something and often that is the organic thing sitting around that smells bad. It's what gives the air a fresh smell after a thunderstorm.

I am with you; I can't stand too much perfume and am highly sensitive to tobacco smoke.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2007 at 7:30PM
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I'm guessing that your probably smelling the particle board drawers off-gassing volatile organic compounds like urea-formaldahyde? I don't think that that awful smell is going to go away by cleaning the cabinets with other smelly cleaners or some fancy air-filtration gadget.

Your choices might be limited to either to make an attempt to refinish them with a water-based wood finish product to seal in the odor especially on any raw cut edges or to have the drawers rebuilt by a cabinetmaker with another material or even real wood.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 1:32AM
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If all else fails, a coat or two of shellac makes an excellent odor barrier.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 7:07PM
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Thanks for all the ideas...I think the ozone is out of the question for this. Be easier to just yank it all out..too many pets, kids etc to try and vacate...I doubt it's vapors from the wood's soooooooo perfumy (if that is a word ;)...not chemical smelling at all. More like someone poured perfume on your head and you sat in the sun...I'd rather smell a chemical smell at this point.
I think the shellac is an idea if all else fails..even tho it will be another evil chemical to deal with...I think we'll try and paint the insides with either a paint or stain and then seal that...if that doesn't work, guess we remove the cabinet and rebuild or just ace it...I'm for moving but since we just moved here in Aug. and houses are moving down $ wise, we'd loose too much so we're stuck here till real estate corrects...and that doesn't look like it's going to be soon.

Thanks again for all the ideas and suggestions! We appreciate it :)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 12:02AM
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Shellac is not an evil chemical. It is a natural organic resin from insects in Asia. It is dissolved in alcohol. You can dilute it with 190 proof drinking alcohol if you wish, though it's more cost effective to use denatured alcohol that is rendered non-potable by addition of methanol, thereby avoiding beverage taxes.

If you have ever eaten a shiny apple or taken enteric medication, you have eaten shellac.

Here is a link that might be useful: about shellac

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 10:26AM
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THANKS kmealy!
I had no idea...I thought shellac was stinky, slow drying and sticky forever..thanks for the lesson! I use neem oil on plants so shellac seems perfectly safe. We'll try that :)

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 1:35PM
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Shellac dries in 15-20 minutes. It is a perfect finish for the inside of casework because it does not have a lingering after-smell, like most oil-based products. It even smells fairly good during application, though use some ventilation.

Shellac has a limited shelf-life. So mix fresh from flakes or check the date on pre-mixed. As soon as it is dissolved in alcohol it starts slowly degrading (esterification), and at some point will not dry. Once it is applied, it is a long-lasting as any finish, maybe the longest lasting.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 6:30PM
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Two or three coats of shellac will seal in any odor. The alcohol solvent in shellac will literally take your breath away in an enclosed space. Be sure to wear an organic vapor respirator and apply it outdoors or where there is plenty of ventilation or you could just use the waterbase polyurethane and avoid the issue.

Here is a link that might be useful: organic vapor respirator

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 6:43PM
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Thanks again for the useful info. I may have a problem..
since this is inside, and we can only do the drawers outside.

We have a large aquarium in the dining room and I'm concered the vapors/smell could harm the fish?

We have a huge whole house fan that would suck out the vapors fine I think for the house but the fish? I now when we have painted, we've had to cover the tank will that be ok for shellac as well? I'd hate to kill any of the fish, some are over 10 years old and have moved 800, they are like family now and HUGE...

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 7:23PM
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I found this site looking for a way to get rid of a similar smell. The difference is, I know what it it from. It is a cabinet that was used for many years to store perfumed candles in. Now we want to put the cabinet to a different use, where the smell is objectionable. I think I will try the shellac.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 9:55PM
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Charcoal filters, an open box of baking soda, and Nilodor are also remedies that one could try. However, a new question should always start a new thread, even if it links back to an old thread. Hope the OP was successful with odor and fish!


    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 11:32AM
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