How can I remove strong cooking smells from wooden furniture?
February 21, 2017 6:40 PM   Subscribe

Yesterday, I bought a used Ikea bed frame that turns out to be permeated with very strong smells of spices from cooking. Do you have any tips for odor removal, or is this just going to be unsalvageable?

We've wiped it down several times with dish soap and water or vinegar and water, scrubbing with a rag, but the smell is still overpowering. It's a standard Ikea build - particle board in the middle, stained veneer on the outside.

Google doesn't turn up a lot of options here, other than the aforementioned vinegar and water. Are there fancy enzymatic cleaners of some sort that you've used successfully? Could I just spray-paint a clear coat over the whole thing to lock in the smell? Any tips would be appreciated!
posted by chrisamiller to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
I would try _ washing_ it (with a soaking up phase and a rinse phase do it outside of on a tarp, using a giant Somme and/or a measuring cup for pouring water). I might use Murphy's oil soap, but if the smell really bothered me, I might use dilute laundry detergent.

I might also try a spray-and-wipe thymol- based cleaner. Be very thorough and let the soap or cleaner so the work of dissolving the invisible fine sheen of oil. Especially hey the joints and crevices.

However, if it is particle board / MDF core, you have to be careful about not letting that absorb water like a sponge.

Kids, don't let your friends buy MDF furniture.
posted by amtho at 6:56 PM on February 21, 2017

Can you put it outside to air out for a couple days?
posted by latkes at 8:51 PM on February 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

The particle board has probably soaked up a lot of the scent, which is going to make it hard to get to. My thought would be to make a paste of baking soda and massage it into any exposed particle board. You might get a tiny bit of swelling, but not enough to damage it, and the baking soda will then be were it needs to be to deodorize.
posted by Jilder at 8:54 PM on February 21, 2017

Take it outside in the sun. If that does not help, clear coat the shit out of it. The paint will off gas, so let it air out before using it. Better yet, use low VOC paint!
posted by jbenben at 9:23 PM on February 21, 2017 [5 favorites]

I think paint on some water based polyurethane on the unfinished surfaces or even some cheap paint or Killz. You won't see it, after all. I would wait to do anything to the already finished parts to see if that's enough. jbenben's ideas are solid, too. The sun is a great deodorizer.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:18 PM on February 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'd try cleaning it with citrus/lemon oil. If the odors are oil-soluble, it will help get rid of them, and its own inherent fragrance will mask or transform the unwelcome smell.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:34 AM on February 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Since you mentioned IKEA, does the bed have a box spring or perhaps it has slats under the mattress?

If they're slats, they're almost certainly cheap permeable pine wood that can soak up odors. I'd replace those right away. Painting or clear-coating them probably won't work since they flex.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:35 PM on February 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

How much did it cost you and at what price do you value your time? Don't throw good time after bad money. I would go over it with Murphy's Oil Soap and then some lemon oil furniture polish (there's a reason all Catholic churches smell the same - this is what they use on the pews, and babies are vomiting on those non-stop) but if that doesn't do the trick then smash it to pieces and put it in the bin.
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:15 PM on February 22, 2017

Some scrubbing (alternately with water + vinegar or Murphy's oil soap) and then letting it dry in the sun for a few hours seems to be doing the trick. Smell is down to a manageable level after 3 passes, and I think a 4th will probably do it. I'll probably follow up with some lemon scented oil or something to help mask the last of it. Thanks for the suggestions, all!
posted by chrisamiller at 10:36 PM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]

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