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How to Get Bad Smells Out of Closets, Drawers, and Trunks

Updated on November 10, 2012
A trunk used by immigrants from Sweden to carry their possessions.
A trunk used by immigrants from Sweden to carry their possessions. | Source

No one likes to have bad smelling clothes, And, when you store them in closets, drawers, or trunks that smell bad, the odor will be transfered to your clothing. Here are some tips to help you get your clothing storage options smelling nice using natural methods.

If your closets are smelling musty or have moisture in them, place a few charcoal briquettes in a shallow pan on the floor. Replace the briquettes every few months to keep the closets fresh. You can used the briquettes in your grill once they have absorbed the odors.

If you closet has an unidentified unpleasant odor, there are a couple of antidotes to try. Wash the walls, ceiling and floor very thoroughly. Use a mixture of one cup of ammonia, one cup of white vinegar and one-quarter cup of baking soda per gallon of water. Repeat the washing if the scent does not disappear. Or, if the odor is persistent, place a shallow pan of cat litter in the closet. Keep the door closed. Put new litter in the pan every few days until the odor is gone.

When you use mothballs to keep insects out of your drawers, the wood may absorb the odor. To get rid of the smell, scrub the drawers with a solution of equal parts white vinegar or lemon juice and rubbing alcohol. Take the drawers out of the chest and scrub with a sponge dampened with the mixture. Be sure to clean the interior of the chest as well. This includes the boards at the back and under the top. Put the drawers outside in the sun to dry, if possible. If the odor is very strong, this process may need to be repeated.

Another method of removing mothball odor is to line the drawers or trunk with a large sheet of paper. On top of this paper sprinkle coffee grounds. Close the drawers or trunk tightly. Leave the coffee grounds inside over night and remove the next day. If the smell is still lingering, repeat with fresh coffee grounds.

A cedar chest can also absorb the odor of mothballs. And, it may require additional work to get the cedar smell back. Just scrub the inside of the chest with sandpaper until the lovely smell of the cedar is back in full force.

If your clothing has absorbed the odor of the mothballs, place them in the dryer with a scented fabric softener sheet. Run it on the air only setting for about fifteen minutes. Check to see if the odor is gone. If not, repeat the process until the smell is gone from your clothing.

Another method to get the odor out of clothing is to place the clothes in a plastic bag. Put a scented fabric softener sheet in with the clothes. Tie the bag tightly and leave for three or four days. This should be enough time to have your clothing smelling fresh again.

Bad odors are no fun. Hopefully, these tips will help you keep your clothing and clothing storage areas smelling fresh and clean.


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