Back Button

How to Remove Musty Odors From Wood

Mary Ylisela

That musty, stale odor that's often associated with old basements or cellars comes from mold and mildew. Tiny, microscopic mold spores may not be visible to the eye but their accompanying smell is noticeable. When your wood surface smells musty, mold and mildew are like to be present, as well.

Removing mold and mildew also gets rid of wood's musty smell.

Removing the mildew from your wood surface gets rid of the unpleasant musty smell, too. Simple home remedies effectively get rid of musty odor and mildew without the cost and chemical exposure that go with commercial products.

  1. Vacuum off the surface of your wood to remove mold and mildew spores. Make sure to vacuum the underside of wood furniture, as well, since mold and mildew can grow on all surfaces. Throw away the vacuum bag once you're finished.

  2. Set your wood furniture in direct sunlight, if possible, and leave it there for a few hours. Allow the sun to dry damp furniture and assist in killing any mold or mildew spores that remain.

  3. A bucket safely holds your mildew-killing solution.
  4. Mix 1 cup household bleach and 1 gallon hot water in a bucket. Protect your skin by wearing rubber gloves. Wet a scrub brush and clean all surfaces of your wood with the bleach solution to kill mildew and get rid of the musty smell.

  5. Rinse off your wood surface with a clean cloth dampened in plain water. Dry the wood with another clean cloth then set the furniture back in direct sunlight until dry.


When wood furniture becomes damp, dry it off with a cloth then set it in the sunlight right away. Drying out the wood is the best way to prevent mildew and its musty odor. Disinfectant cleaning solution can also be used to get rid of mildew smells on wood. Spray your wood surface with straight vinegar. Let the vinegar sit on the surface to kill mildew and deodorize the surface, then wipe it off.