Mold and mildew can accumulate on oak furniture when it has been exposed to excessive moisture. This can often lead to a lingering musty smell emanating from the wood. You may be able to mask the odour with furniture polish or air fresheners, but the smell will almost always return. With other methods you can thoroughly rid your oak furniture of the mustiness.
Air out the furniture by placing it in a room with open windows or a garage. Leave it there for a few days.
Thin a can of polyurethane with some paint thinner. Use a solution of one part paint thinner to one part polyurethane.
Paint the wood portion of the furniture with one coat of the thinned polyurethane. This will allow the finish to penetrate the wood and soak into the cracks, sealing in the odour.
Place the furniture in a well-ventilated area, such as a garage or outdoors.
Mix a solution of equal parts bleach and water.
Soak a sponge in the bleach solution and wring it out.
Wipe down the wood portions of the furniture with the damp sponge.
Allow the furniture to set for two hours so the bleach can neutralise the musty odour. Wipe it down with a clean damp sponge to remove excess bleach.
Sand the top layer of wood from the furniture with a fine grade sand paper. This method can be used if the musty smell is resilient to other, less invasive methods. The musty smell will essentially be sanded out of the wood and any remnants of odour will be sealed in with staining and finishing.
Follow up with a coat stain coloured to your preference.
Allow the stain to dry completely.
Apply one layer of diluted polyurethane. To dilute, mix equal parts paint thinner with polyurethane.