I bought vintage wardrobe and cabinets and some of them have this old wood smell that you can smell in old people's homes sometimes. Does it mean it's 'moldy' in some way or there can be other reasons? The wardrobe smell is mild, something I definitely smelt before in old people's houses, and I'm not even sure if it's a bad smell. So is it ok to ignore it and put my clothes there? It looks in really good shape actually. I've tried cleaning it with soap and white vinegar but it doesn't help. I don't know if I should keep cleaning or maybe it will go away if I leave it open always.

Most info on the internet suggests natural solutions but what about sanding and repainting? And what about commercial wood cleaning products? Anyone had any luck?


  • i use a spray bottle full of half bleach half water to soak the wood, drying quickly with a fan to prevent swelling.
    – dandavis
    Feb 9, 2020 at 20:48

2 Answers 2


If you put your clothing in there as-is, the clothing and then you, when you wear them, will smell just as bad.

The smell comes from such furniture sitting closed up for long periods of time. I've found that taking out all the drawers, opening all the doors, and exposing all of it to fresh air and, if possible, direct sunlight, will eliminate the smells in a relatively short period of time.

If it's more stubborn, you can try an "oil soap" type cleaning product.

If there were mold and mildew, you should be able to see that on the surfaces and if present, you'll want to clean that with an appropriate commercial cleaning product that acts on mold and mildew.

  • SoP to take our pop-up camper 'out of mothballs' was to put all the cushions in the yard for several hours in the sun.
    – Mazura
    Feb 9, 2020 at 21:44

Try placing an open box of baking soda in there. It's terrific at absorbing odors and you have nothing to lose other than a buck or two for the baking soda.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.