How to Clean a Cabinet Ruined With Rotten Fruit

Updated February 21, 2017

Storing fruit in a cabinet for too long allows the fruit to rot and liquefy. Wood is a porous material that absorbs the liquid dripping from the rotten fruit, resulting in stains and odour. Rotten fruit stains and odour can attract insects and other vermin, making cleaning necessary. Several stain removal methods may be successful. Begin with the least difficult and progress to harsher methods.

Empty all contents from the cabinet. Throw away cardboard boxes and paper products, which are likely to hold the rotted-fruit smell.

Remove the shelves from inside the cabinet if possible.

Mix 1 tbsp antibacterial detergent into 4 cups of hot water. Dip a sponge into the cleaning solution, and squeeze out the excess water. Wipe down all interior surfaces and shelves, even those without stains, to remove bacteria.

Wet the fruit stain with water. Pour a 1/2-inch layer of kosher salt over the stain, completely covering it. Allow the salt to remain on the stain for 24 hours. Wet a rag or sponge, and scrub the salted area to remove the stain.

Open all the windows in the room or set up a fan to provide adequate ventilation. Put on rubber gloves, and wet a sponge with chlorine bleach. Lay the sponge on the fruit stain. Let the bleach-soaked sponge remain on the stain for four to six hours. Remove the sponge, and flush the area thoroughly with water.

Wrap 220-grit sandpaper around a sanding block, and sand the surface of the stain. Avoid sanding vigorously in one spot, because you may cause a depression in the wood.

Put on rubber gloves, a respirator, a protective jumpsuit, and safety goggles. Spray the stain with trisodium phosphate, and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Scrub the surface with a wet nylon scrubbing sponge or scrub brush until the stain disappears. Rinse the area thoroughly with water.


If you have no success with stain removal, apply a coat of odour-blocking primer to seal in the odour and cover the stain. Allow the primer to dry for three to four hours. Paint over the primer to hide the stain.


Use trisodium phosphate with care and as a last resort, as it is a heavy-duty cleaning solution.

Things You'll Need

  • Antibacterial detergent
  • Sponge
  • Kosher salt
  • Rag
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Respirator
  • Chlorine bleach
  • Sanding block
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Safety goggles
  • Jumpsuit
  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Nylon scrubbing sponge or scrub brush
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About the Author

Sal Marco began writing professionally in 2009. He has written many online home improvement articles based on his more than 20 years of experience in the home improvement and building industries. He has worked as both part of a team and as a site supervisor. Marco has a Bachelor of Science in management science from Kean University.