Getting rid of smell in old Dresser

wascoletteNovember 18, 2008

We inherited 2 beautiful dressers a few years ago. They are lovely and I do like them. The problem is that they have always had a bad smell, musty/moldy. Plus living near the ocean they seem to have gotten worse. My guess is that they have absorbed the moisture in the air. We've periodically wiped them down with a water/bleach solution and it helps momentarily but the smell always comes back.

It's getting to the point that almost anything we put in the drawers and sits in there more than a few days absorbs this musty smell.

My first thought was to take them to the dip and strip, but the outside of the dressers are veneered. Do you have suggestions on what we can do about this problem?

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Try putting a coat of clear shellac on the insides of the drawers and drawer supports.

Bleach by itself will not kill mold spores, so the application is not solving that problem.

The shellac will stick to/cover any areas of fine mold and prevent regrowth.

The only caveat when choosing shellac is it has a short shelf life---although either MinWax or Zinsser makes a three year shelf life product---with a date stamp on each container.

Or, you can get a couple gallons of denatured alcohol(be prepared for the price to be VERY high) and buy enough shellac flakes to mix a fresh batch.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 8:10PM
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Before you do anything drastic:

Wipe down the inside with denatured alcohol.
Then apply two coats of shellac. It is a great odor sealer.

Here is a link that might be useful: Seal Coat 100% dewaxed shellac

    Bookmark   November 18, 2008 at 8:12PM
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Try using cedar chips in the drawers. The cedar chips will absorb the musty and moldy smells. Re-treat as necessary if the smell returns.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2009 at 4:14PM
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I used 2 coats of shellac to get rid of a perfume smell on an old dresser. It got rid of the perfume smell but it has been almost 2 weeks and I still get a denatured alcohol smell. At least I think that is what I smell. I'm surprised as I would have thought by now any DNA would have long since evaporated. Any suggestions? Bake the the drawers in the sun for a few days?

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 4:53PM
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Shellac has its own smell, and it lasts for years in confined spaces (inside drawers). I find it pleasant.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 8:06PM
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Odor absorbers like a box of baking soda or charcoal filters will help. There is also some pretty amazing stuff called Nilodor that may work.


    Bookmark   August 3, 2011 at 8:22PM
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