How to Get a Smell Out of New Drawers

Written by irene a. blake
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New furniture often retains smells from materials used in the manufacturing process such as glue, lacquer and paint. Typically, drawers in cabinets, dressers, nightstands, desks and other furniture retain these smells long after you take the furniture from the box and set it up in your home or office because drawers remain enclosed. The key to getting a smell out of new furniture drawers is to air out the drawers, find ways to absorb the smell, and use scented materials to improve the odour of the drawers.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Air purifier (optional)
  • Cloths
  • Bowls
  • Baking soda
  • Odour-absorbing material such as charcoal, charcoal filters or kitty litter
  • Nylon stockings
  • Scented material such as coffee grounds or cedar chips
  • Herbs or fragrances such as tea tree oil, vanilla or cloves

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  1. 1

    Remove the drawers from the new furniture. Set the drawers and the main body of the piece of furniture outside to air out for four or more hours. If you can't set the furniture outside, remove the drawers, then open the windows to the room and turn on an exhaust fan or air purifier; wait the same amount of time.

  2. 2

    If you took the furniture outside, bring everything inside. Wipe the inside and outside of each drawer with a slightly damp cloth. Wait a few minutes for the drawers to dry, then return the drawers to the furniture.

  3. 3

    Fill bowls--one bowl for each drawer--with odour-absorbing materials such as baking soda, charcoal/cut pieces of a charcoal filter, or kitty litter.

  4. 4

    Place the bowls in the drawers, close the drawers, then wait 24 to 48 hours; if possible, wait an entire week to allow the material to absorb as much of the smell as it can.

  5. 5

    Open the drawers and remove the bowls.

  6. 6

    Close the drawers and wait eight hours. Reopen the drawers and check to see if the smell remains. If the smell remains, repeat the odour-absorbing steps one to two more times until the smell has lessened.

  7. 7

    Make a scented sachet or container to place inside the furniture. For example, fill a nylon stocking with plain or flavoured coffee grounds, or cedar chips; mix a favourite oil or herb such as tea tree oil, vanilla or cloves with baking soda in a bowl.

  8. 8

    Place sachet or container in a drawer.

Tips and warnings

  • If you are dealing with medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or other pressed wood furniture, the smell may be coming from formaldehyde or volatile organic compounds (VOCs) used in manufacturing. These chemicals not only carry a strong smell and can continue to release fumes for months to years after manufacturing, but also may be detrimental to human health. To reduce these odours and protect yourself, paint every surface of the furniture with polyurethane or another type of sealant.
  • If you have allergies or chemical sensitivities and you're dealing with furniture made of MDF or pressed wood, consider returning the furniture and purchasing an all-wood or pre-sealed product. Formaldehyde can exacerbate existing asthma, allergy and chemical sensitivity-related conditions. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), formaldehyde also may cause cancer.

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