A Guide to Freshening a Set of Dresser Wooden Drawers

A Guide to Freshening a Set of Dresser Wooden Drawers

Pieces of wooden furniture are often difficult to discard because they could be antique pieces and hold good memories. Other times, they also hold sentimental value, so it can be quite discomforting to notice that misty or unpleasant smell over time. However, are there ways to retain the freshness of these beloved wooden pieces?

Wooden dresser drawers are pieces of wooden furniture of various shapes and sizes, usually for the bedroom. They contain drawers and are perfect for storing clothes and other wearables while adding a bit of organizational pattern to the room.

Even though wooden dresser drawers feel stale with time, they are ready to restore to freshness. If you own some pieces and wonder what to do about them, then look no further as this guide will show you all you need to know about freshening a set of wooden dresser drawers. So keep reading to learn more.

What Are the Causes of a Smelly Set of Dresser Wooden Drawers?

All wooden furniture is made from wood previously used to contain tree sap, a naturally occurring liquid in freshly cut down wood. Some wooden furniture may still contain elements of tree sap, regardless of the treatment and dry state.

As a result, wooden products are still organic and subject to the adverse effect of natural and biological elements and environmental factors. 

Some of the natural and environmental factors that can cause a set of wooden dresser drawers to smell include but are not limited to:

  • Accidental spills from liquid or food
  • Bacterial activity
  • Fungal activity
  • Mold growth
  • Presence of mildew
  • Insect and rodent activity
  • Poor ventilation
  • Lack of sunlight
  • Transferred substances from clothing like debris.

Now that you know the possible causes of a smelly dresser wooden drawer, the next thing that calls to mind is possible ways to stop and reverse the awful smell.

How Do I Stop My Wooden Drawers From Smelling?

Stopping your wooden drawers from smelling is pretty easy. However, it requires prompt attention. The reason is that when you leave the odor longer, it further penetrates the wood and may be more difficult to remove. That said, here are some effective methods to stop wooden drawers from smelling.

Declutter and Empty the Dresser Drawer Completely

It is effective to clean up a fully stocked dresser drawer, thus decluttering and emptying the first line of action towards getting rid of the smell. It is necessary to remove all items from the drawers, and if the base is lined with paper or thin fabric, then such linings should also be removed to act as a priming activity before the actual cleaning.

Clean Up the Wooden Dresser Drawer

Cleaning up the dresser is an indispensable step toward freshening a set of wooden dresser drawers. After decluttering and emptying comes the next line of action, which is the actual cleaning action. Several things are involved in cleaning ranging from the actual cleaning process to disinfection, deodorizing, etc. 

Declutter and Empty the Dresser Drawer Completely

Things To Keep in Mind Before Beginning the Cleaning Process

Even though it is best to clean the wooden dresser drawer with a soft clean damp cloth, it is important to consider other relevant factors before cleaning the drawer. Here are two main things to keep in mind before the actual cleaning process.

 The Structural Material of the Wooden Dresser Drawer.

The structural material like type and quality of wood are principal factors to consider before every cleaning. Those made from solid or hardwood have a natural resistance to moisture and can withstand an elaborate cleaning like washing.

On the other hand, materials made from softwood or lighter wood density like plywood are susceptible to moisture absorption and should not undergo an elaborate cleaning process. Essentially, it would be best to avoid saturating such wooden material with moisture while cleaning. 

The Type of Cleaning Agent to Be Used

While some wooden surfaces can withstand abrasives, others cannot. As a result, it is always beneficial to decide on the cleaning agent to use before cleaning. Such a decision depends on the nature of the structural material with which the wooden dresser drawer (type of wood). 

Use Disinfection to Keep the Germs Away

Use Disinfection to Keep the Germs Away

In general, microscopic organisms like bacteria and fungi are among the major causes of a smelly drawer. Molds buildup due to moisture retention, darkness, and poor air circulation, leading to the general activity of germs. Disinfectants are an excellent way to keep these biological factors under control and reduce the chances of odor reoccurrence. 

Here are some effective disinfectants to incorporate into your dresser wooden drawer cleaning.

Using Borax as a Mild Disinfectant

Borax is a white chalky mineral substance that you can easily use for disinfecting your dresser set. It functions as a three-in-one agent- disinfectant, antifungal, and insect repellant. As a bonus point, Borax is also a natural deodorizer, so talk about achieving multiple things in one.

How To Use Borax for Disinfection  

Here’s how to use borax to clean your dresser wooden drawers:

  1. Make a solution of a quarter cup of Borax with a quarter of warm water.
  2. Using a piece of clean cotton cloth, soak in the borax solution and squeeze out the excess moisture content.
  3. Gently clean the wooden furniture using both sides of the washcloth and re-clean with another cloth dipped in fresh water.
  4. Allow them to dry naturally in the air, and if possible, leave the wooden material overnight.

Now, let’s take a look at using vinegar.

Using Vinegar as a Disinfectant

Vinegar is an organic acidic substance with a sour smell. Over the years, it has been used as a natural preservative because of its antibacterial and antifungal quality. It is also a natural deodorizer and functions by breaking down bacteria to limit their activity. However, many people are uncomfortable with the smell of Vinegar, but as soon as it dries up, the sour smell gives way. 

How To Use Vinegar for Disinfection.

Here’s how to use vinegar to clean your dresser wooden drawers:

  1. Make a solution of two tablespoons of Vinegar with one-quarter of warm water.
  2. Gently dampen a piece of the washcloth with the solution, taking care to squeeze out the excess water from the washcloth.
  3. Mop the furniture with the damp washcloth gently yet thoroughly.
  4. Use another clean, dry cloth or towel to dry again, then air dry, if possible, overnight. 

Now, let’s take a look at deodorizing them.

Deodorize and Carry Out Periodic Exposure to Natural Air

After cleaning and disinfection, the next step is to deodorize to remove any residual odor and prevent further stench. An excellent method is to apply desiccants to absorb atmospheric moisture, leading to the buildup of odor. 

In addition, you can buy some air fresheners from your local store. As a bonus point, deodorizing will also keep your stuff continuously feeling and smelling fresh at all times. 

Here are some healthy deodorizers besides Borax and Vinegar that you can easily get to help with freshening your newly cleaned set of the wooden dresser drawer. 

Use Baking Soda for Deodorizing 

Baking soda is an alkaline powdery substance that works by absorbing odor and neutralizing the PH. It functions as an excellent option for DIY procedures and is readily available in your kitchen. Alternatively, you can easily source it from your local grocery store. 

Use Activated Charcoal as a Desiccant and Deodorizer

Activated charcoal is another DIY deodorizing substance and sometimes doubles as a desiccant. It is pure carbon and absorbs odors and other impurities in contact with it. 

You can use it by placing a few pieces in a container and then in a corner within the drawer. If you decide to use activated charcoal, you should be careful not to smudge your wooden dresser drawer with the black coloration. Also, it would be best if you remembered to change it regularly for sound effects.

Use Kitty Litter as a Deodorizer

Kitty litter is a clay antibacterial material that absorbs and traps odors. To make use of it, you should fill several disposable plastic bowls with the kitty litter. Alternatively, you can use empty yogurt containers to accommodate the kitty litter. 

After that, cover the lid, use a sharp object to poke holes on the cover for air to pass through, and place it in each drawer for a few days.

It would be best if you remembered to change the kitty litter regularly, perhaps every few days, for perfect renewal.

Allow Regular Exposure to Sunlight for Your Wooden Dresser

Bacteria, fungi, and other microscopic organisms have a limited ability to develop in the presence of sunlight because of the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Therefore, it would be best to regularly sit your wooden dresser drawers in the sun for about an hour to air dry and about 30-45 minutes after washing or cleaning.

Wooden Furniture: A Dresser or a Drawer?

Wooden dressers and drawers are wooden furniture pieces in the bedroom for holding personal items like clothes, underwear, and toiletries. While some people regard them as the same, others express a slight difference between them.

The wooden dresser is usually more sturdy and larger with wider drawers, perfect for people with more storage space. At the same time, the wooden drawer is usually vertical, narrower, and good for those who may not have enough space in the room.

Benefits of a Fresh and Clean Dresser Wooden Drawer.

Benefits of a Fresh and Clean Dresser Wooden Drawer.

A clean and fresh dresser wooden drawer is not only a joy to behold but also has other benefits both for you and your environment. 

Here are some advantages of freshening your set:

  • It adds to the beauty of your room by improving the aesthetic value.
  • A fresh drawer maintains your clothes and personal items in good condition.
  • It keeps bacteria and insect activity at bay.
  • It saves you the cost of maintenance and repairs, or worse, replacement. 

Now that you know what you stand to gain by maintaining a fresh wooden dresser, how about moving on to care and maintenance of an old dresser wooden drawer.

Maintenance and Care for an Old Dresser Wooden Drawer

Having an old piece of wooden furniture that appears as freshly bought furniture is always a joy to behold. Also, if it is a piece that has been in your family for generations, you would probably be excited to talk about it to your children and grandchildren. 

But having a wooden piece of furniture that lasts for long certainly comes down to proper maintenance and care. Besides the regular cleaning and disinfection, here are a few other actions worth taking to help your wooden dresser drawer last for long:

  • Always line the top and base with appropriate table cloths to prevent surface damage
  • Use furniture oil to re-oil the wood when it gets dull.
  • Be sure to re-wax when needed to maintain the protective covering of the wood
  • Use desiccants to absorb odor and air fresheners to introduce fragrance.

When you take proper care of your wooden dresser drawers, your personal belongings will always be in good condition. Also, a well-maintained wooded piece of furniture adds to the room’s overall appearance, adding a more homely feel by improving the room’s aesthetic appeal. 


Even though freshening a set of wooden dresser drawers may sound scary, it is not, especially when you act immediately without delay. Also, it gets easier with time if you form the habit of carrying out regular maintenance procedures and cleaning them. 

That way, you can fix certain minor issues that occur before they get worse and become difficult to remedy. So the next time you feel like acquiring a set of wooden drawers, do not develop cold feet for fear of the possibility of bad odor. 


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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