How to Remove a Musty Smell From a Wood Cabinet

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 odor. The musty smell in a wood cabinet is indicative of the presence of mold and mildew. The only way to get rid of the musty smell is to kill mold and mildew fungus, then remove their accompanying stains and odor. Thorough removal of mold and mildew with supplies safe for wood, followed by allowing the wood to dry, will restore your wood cabinet to clean-smelling condition.

A wood cabinet exposed to moisture can develop a musty smell.

Things Needed

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

Step 1

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 mold and mildew spores.

Step 2

Mix 1 ounce 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.

Step 3

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.

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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

Step 6

Put the drawers back in the wood cabinet. If any musty odor 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 mold, mildew and musty odors.
  • 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.


  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service; Mildew Prevention in the Home; Sarah D. Kirby, Ph.D.; February 1999
  • University of Missouri Extension; How to Prevent and Remove Mildew; Wanda Eubanks and Betty Feather; April 1998
  • University of Georgia; Mildew Prevention and Removal; Dale Dorman; 1997
  • Reader's Digest: Mildew Cleaning Solutions