Remove odors from dresser drawers image

How to Remove Odors from Dresser Drawers

When you purchase a new dresser set new the smell in the drawers is fresh.  However, if you purchase one at an antique store or garage sale there may be a foul odor in the drawers.  Odors can be caused by cigarette smoke, mold, mildew, bacteria, insects, spills, rodents or substances that were transferred from clothing.

Solid wood dresser drawers are easier to clean versus particle board.  Even though wood is porous it does not warp as easily as particle board does.  Surprisingly, the sun can be one of the best deodorizers available.  Using the sun is the cheapest way to remove odors and it is preferable if you can leave them out for a few days.

What Type of Products Should I Use to Clean my Dresser Drawers?

Before you use any product to clean the dresser draws, remove any cobwebs, bugs, dirt and debris that are in the drawer.  Shop vacuums are the best way to remove as they have the best suction.  If you have to use a regular vacuum, use a bristle brush the loosen stuff then vacuum it out.

Borax and vinegar are inexpensive and very effective products that can be used to get the odors out of dresser drawers.  Other products you can use are Febreze, wood polish or wood oil soap.  It is suggested you use the wood polish or oil soap after you have cleaned your drawers and they have been completely dried out.


Borax is a great natural deodorizer and disinfectant as well as an insect repellent and anti-fungal product.  It is usually found in the household cleaning section of most stores.

  • Dissolve completely one quarter cup of Borax in a quart of warm water. It dissolves best in warmer water.
  • Take a clean cloth, dip it into the solution and wring out as much of the liquid as possible. You don’t want to saturate the wood.
  • Be sure to wipe down not just the bottom but the sides as well.
  • Borax can leave a residue so use a separate cloth with clean water to remove any residue.
  • Be sure to let it dry completely. Using the sun is effective as the warmth of the sun draws out moisture.


Remove Odors from Dresser Drawer VVinegar is known to break down bacteria and it does not leave any residue.  It is an anti-fungal and an antibacterial product that does have a strong odor.  The odor will go away when the drawer is dried.

  • Take a quart of warm water and add two tablespoons of vinegar.
  • Wipe the bottom and sides of the drawer with a clean cloth that has been dampened with the vinegar solution.
  • Use a clean towel to dry and let it sit out overnight or in the sun to finish drying.

How do I Deodorize my Dresser Drawers?


Charcoal that is not pre-treated with lighter fluid absorbs impurities and odor.  The better charcoal to use is activated charcoal as it has been treated so the absorbing capabilities are increased.

Take several pieces of the activated charcoal and place them in an open container.  Then put one in each drawer to purify the air and absorb odors.  Change out the activated coal in the open containers every few weeks.  Don’t let the activated charcoal drop into the drawer as it can not only stain the wood but your clothes as well.

Baking Soda:

We have all heard that baking soda is great at removing odors in refrigerators.  That is true in dresser drawers as well.  There are two ways you can use baking soda:

  • Sprinkle some baking soda in the drawer and vacuum it out in a few days.
  • Place a whole box of baking soda in the dresser drawer. Lay is down flat and poke a few holes in the box.  It may take a few weeks, but the odor should dissipate at backing soda neutralizes pH levels which in turn helps it absorb odors.

Cat Litter:

Because cat litter is made of clay it is a perfect product that will trap and absorbs odors and kill bacteria.  You can use a plastic container that has a lid to place the kitty litter in.  Then poke holes in the lid and place one in each dresser drawer.

If you want bacteria and odors to be absorbed all the time, replace the cat litter monthly.  Be sure to use unscented cat litter and keep the drawer closed if you have a cat.  They may think it is another place to do their business!


Remove odors from dresser drawers photoWorking as an insect repellent, natural anti-fungal and disinfectant, using Borax is perfect.

  • Dust the bottom of the drawer with a little Borax.
  • Try to disperse it evenly then place in a large plastic bag that is clean and leave overnight.
  • After twenty-four hours, remove the drawer and vacuum the Borax out.

One last thought.  If you are cleaning and deodorizing dresser drawers that you already had and they started smelling, wash every item that was previously in the drawer before putting them back.  Clothes can hold odors, bacteria, mildew and mold as well.