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6 Ways to Get Smells Out Of Furniture

If you’re into thrifty decorating, you probably know that secondhand/vintage furniture is a budget-friendly way to add great style to your house. I’m pretty cheap (or frugal if you’re being nice about it). And, I happen to love old furniture. But what happens if you find the perfect piece and it smells like someone used it for an ashtray or Grandma’s beloved perfume for 40 years? Find out 6 inexpensive ways to get smells out of furniture:

Old furniture isn’t doomed if it smells. It’s possible to get even the smelliest furniture fresh and clean again with a few trusted cleaning methods. My favorite product can be found at any grocery store, but there are several choices that work to remove smells from furniture.

6 Ways to Get Smells Out of Furniture!

Arm & Hammer Carpet Odor Eliminator

I found this amazing buffet on the ole trusty Craigslist (you can see the first buffet transformation by clicking here). I’ve bought lots of stuff over the years and this was by far the worst.

The overwhelming smoke smell was terrible. I can’t even describe in words how bad it was. I cleaned it first and let me warn you. When you add a wet rag to something that reeks of smoke, it intensifies by a million. I let it dry overnight and the next day my whole garage reeked.

So here’s what did the trick:   Arm & Hammer Carpet Odor Eliminator. This stuff worked magic. I used practically the whole box. Get a few disposable bowls/containers and add the powder. Put a bowl of powder in every drawer, door, cubbie – all possible spaces in your furniture.

Close it up, leave it overnight or for a few days and then wallah! No smells!!! Trash the powder afterward. It’s absorbed all those gross smells, so you don’t want to keep it. I like the Island Mist scent – it’s pretty powerful but the flowery smell fades after a while.

RELATED: Updating an Old Curio Cabinet


Get a cheapo spray bottle from the dollar store and fill it with a mixture of half water/half vinegar. Use it to clean your piece including the insides of drawers. You can also fill a few bowls with vinegar and let it sit inside the furniture for a day or so. I use old t-shirts and rags and use it just like a regular old cleaning product. And the best part of this one is you can get a giant bottle of white vinegar for a few bucks.

RELATED: Beginner’s Guide to Painting Wood Furniture

Dryer Sheets

Yep, plain old Snuggle or whatever your favorite brand of dryer sheets are. I used dryer sheets for the buffet in my foyer. This piece didn’t have a terrible smell, just very musty and perfume-like if you can imagine that combo. I cleaned it well and then put a few dryer sheets in each drawer/cabinet and closed it up for a bit.

Lavender to get smell out of furniture


If you’re planning on painting or staining your new smelly piece of furniture, that will definitely help. And bonus smell points if you can leave it out in the sun for a while after cleaning. If it’s a dresser or another piece with drawers, it will help to paint the insides of the drawers too.

RELATED: How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Zep Cleaner

Zep 505 is one of my favorite products to use when cleaning old furniture. I’ve stuck with this one for years and it works wonders at getting dirt and grime off. I would recommend wearing gloves when using this one. This is what I used for a china cabinet I refinished. It had been sitting in a barn for who knows how many years and was definitely the grossest project I’ve done. You can see it here.

Murphy’s Oil Soap

This is another staple in my garage. It has a clean citrus scent and works great to clean wood furniture. Spritz the insides of drawers and cabinets with Murphy’s and wipe it down good.

So don’t pass up that great piece just because it smells horrible! These are my staples for cleaning and bringing old furniture back to life – I’d love to hear some of your favorites!

And here are some links to all my faves but you can find all of these at most home improvement stores and grocery stores.

Arm & Hammer Odor Eliminator



Murphy’s Oil Soap


Let me know if you have any favorites to add to the list!

And if painting furniture is your thing, be sure to check out these related furniture posts:

Complete Beginners Guide to Painting Wood Furniture

Flipping Furniture for Profit

Image with text: How to get smells out of old furniture
Image with text: How to remove smells from old furniture
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Jamie Parker

Tuesday 13th of July 2021

I just picked up some furniture that has been in our family for about 100 years. Every piece that has drawers or cabinet doors smells awful. I can't wait to try your suggestions.

create and find

Wednesday 14th of July 2021

Yay! I can't wait to hear if they work for you. And I'd love to see that furniture - how nice to have such amazing family heirlooms.


Sunday 16th of July 2017

Awesome tips!


Tuesday 18th of July 2017

Thank you Marly - that's the downside of buying secondhand furniture -some come with some awful smells!


Saturday 8th of July 2017

Great tips! I never thought to use some of the products you recommended! Thank you.


Saturday 8th of July 2017

Thank you Carolann - Most are easy to find and cheap!