How to remove a musty smell from a wood cabinet

Wood furniture kept outside or stored in a damp basement often ends up with a stale, musty odour. The musty smell in a wood cabinet is indicative of the presence of mould and mildew. The only way to get rid of the musty smell is to kill mould and mildew fungus, then remove their accompanying stains and odour. Thorough removal of mould and mildew with supplies safe for wood, followed by allowing the wood to dry, will restore your wood cabinet to clean-smelling condition.

Move the wood cabinet outdoors to a sunny location or to a sunny room indoors. Allow the cabinet to sit in the sunshine for several hours to dry the wood and kill mould and mildew spores.

Mix 28.4gr of disinfectant cleaner with 1 gallon of hot water in a bucket. Wear rubber gloves to keep your skin protected from the drying effects of the cleanser.

Dip a clean sponge in the disinfectant solution. Remove drawers from the wood cabinet. Wash the inside and outside of the cabinet, as well as the drawers, using the disinfectant-soaked sponge.

Rinse the cabinet by wiping it down with a damp cloth. Dry the surface with clean cloths. Allow the wood to dry completely in the sun or a dry room.

Spray interior corners and other tight spots or crevices with disinfectant spray to kill any mould spores that might have been missed by the sponge. Disinfectant spray gets rid of the fungus and also helps deodorise the wood.

Put the drawers back in the wood cabinet. If any musty odour lingers, sprinkle baking soda in the drawers and leave it in overnight. Vacuum the next day to remove the baking soda.


Store wood furniture in climate-controlled areas to prevent mould, mildew and musty odours. Make a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. Wash down the wood cabinet with the vinegar solution to kill fungus and its musty smell. Keep your cabinet clean and dry. Mold and mildew spores are attracted to organic matter, such as dirt and dust, on damp surfaces.

Things You'll Need

  • Disinfectant cleaner
  • Hot water
  • Bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • Sponge
  • Clean cloths
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Baking soda
  • Vacuum
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About the Author

Mary Ylisela is a former teacher with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education and mathematics. She has been a writer since 1996, specializing in business, fitness and education. Prior to teaching, Ylisela worked as a certified fitness instructor and a small-business owner.