Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

November, 2003

Eliminating Odors From Wood Cabinets

Q. I have a linen pantry with nothing in it. The pantry has a very strong odor that can be smelled in the hallway even when the pantry door is closed. I have tried washing the shelves with bleach, ammonia, and soap. I have used air freshners and cedar chips, all to no avail. I have never used this pantry for storage because of this odor. My house is only 4 years old. Any suggestions?

A. Without knowing the origin of the odor we may be shooting in the dark. Is the odor a mold issue? Or a issue of painting odors?

Maybe by using an odor absorbent such as baking soda, and then washing the walls and shelves with a citrus cleaner or a pine soap we may be able to minimize the odor.

A complete repaint may be in order. If this is the case then I would recommend washing the surface with TSP (tri sodium phosphate) to prepare the surface and also help to clean any existing molds. By using a latex paint and adding two or three table spoons of pure vanilla extract directly to the paint, this will give it a nice fresh smell.

Leave the pantry open to allow good ventilation and the new paint to dry well and not build up any unwanted odors.

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