How to get mildew smell out of a chest of drawers?
February 3, 2005 6:07 PM   Subscribe

Please help me with my smelly chest (chest of drawers that is...)

We were given an old wooden chest of drawers that smells strongly like mildew. It is dry as all get out and there is no mold that I can see. There are about a million remedies that I have found through google but the ones that I have tried have not really helped.

Has anyone found anything that has worked for them?
posted by GrumpyMonkey to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Did you try dryer sheets? Cedar chips also works, but make your clothes smell like cedar.
posted by jonah at 6:39 PM on February 3, 2005

How about sitting an open container of baking soda in each drawer for a week or two, and then cedar chips thereafter?
posted by odinsdream at 6:52 PM on February 3, 2005

ExStink, dammit! This is exactly the sort of application it's for, and it really does work which is why I wind up linking it in every single one of these "I have a stinky item" questions.

Good for adding to catboxes, too, if you have those.
posted by majick at 6:52 PM on February 3, 2005

Never had a fire, but I've heard you can get the smoke smell out of things by burying them in kitty litter, the kind that contains chlorophyll. It takes a while, they say. Maybe filling the drawers with it?

I do have experience in getting the smoke smell out of expensive electronics after a fire. We stuck it in a paper bag sprayed with that smell remover air freshener (any brand that claims to remove smoke odors contains the same chemical, and you can tell by the smell of the chemistry). The paper bag was just to keep the chemistry from touching the plastics and rubber in the piece. Then we stuck that inside a plastic bag to keep the chemistry in close association with the piece. We opened the bag about once a week and replaced the inner bag as needed with a fresh one sprayed again. That worked fine, takes around a month to 6 weeks.

I would think mildew would be similar for removal purposes, probably not as stubborn.

On Preview, ExStink sounds like the sort of thing that would work fine. It's likely to be similar chemistry.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:03 PM on February 3, 2005

When we had a bad mildewy smell in our basement rug, our neighbor--who works in building maintence--got us this industrial strength odor remover that worked amazingly well. As I recall, it was named something like "POW!", but I can't find in on Google.

In any case, if you google "odor remover", you'll find a ton of industrial-strength products like that. You don't necessarily want to know what's in them, or how they work, but still...if you're desperate.
posted by LairBob at 7:07 PM on February 3, 2005

We haven't found any better odor remover than Odo-Ban. If you have a Sam's Club in your area, you can get a gallon for about ten bucks, and it includes a spray-bottle for draperies and such.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 9:07 PM on February 3, 2005

I've found white vinegar does the trick, I have a trunk with a wooden interior that smelt badly of mildews and the vinegar worked like a charm.
posted by squeak at 4:22 AM on February 4, 2005

You should wash your stinky drawers before putting them in the chest of drawers! Seriously though, baking soda works wonders. I bought a box with a permeable membrane on either large side of it to destink my new winter beater (previous owner must've been a smoker) and it worked wonders.

One of my friends swears by lava rock as being even better than baking soda.
posted by substrate at 5:47 AM on February 4, 2005

Haul it outside and set it in the sun and wind for a few days. It can do wonders.
posted by LarryC at 7:22 AM on February 4, 2005

I had this problem in college, particularly when I inherited a chest of drawers in a dorm room that formerly belonged to someone er, who didn't practice proper hygiene. I went to the local natural foods store, where they sold whole, natural vanilla beans. I lined the perimeter of the drawer with them, which worked well since they're long & skinny, and presto! The smell vanished, and people on the bus would comment on my lovely "vanilla fragrance."
posted by invisible ink at 9:29 AM on February 4, 2005

If you can find one (some rental places have them) a Ozone generator can work wonders on this kind of odour.

Another way to go is with full strength ammonia. Set the chest outside in a sheltered well ventalated area. A cup of pure ammonia set in each drawer for three days and then three days to ventilate is very effective. We used to get ammonia from a blueprinting place. Be very careful with it. Wear splash style safety glasses and rubber gloves at a minimum. Dilute splashes with water. It's not available at Wal-Mart with good reason.
posted by Mitheral at 2:01 PM on February 4, 2005

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