How to Get Rid of Used Furniture From the Smell of a Thrift Store

While some people have always loved vintage (i.e. used) furniture, others are new to second hand, flea market, and yard sales due to the current furniture shortage and shipping delays . But scarce or not, buying used furniture and other items for your home has many benefits, including cost, unique design, durability, and the sustainability of using what already exists instead of buying something new.

The downsides of vintage furniture vary (or may be non-existent) depending on the item, but one of the most common is the familiar, sometimes unrelenting smell known as “thrift store smell”.

Even if the item wasn’t actually second-hand (and it doesn’t have soft, upholstered surfaces), this musty smell is often present in old furniture and can be difficult to get rid of even for the most seasoned vintage shoppers. Here are a few tricks to try if you need to get the thrift store smell out of your latest vintage non-upholstered furniture.

Cleaning and deodorization

The first thing most people will try to rid their vintage furniture of secondhand smell is to try to clean and deodorize it. Everyone has a favorite home remedy, but here are some of the most popular:

Fresh air and sunshine

Often vintage furniture has been stored for years (or more likely decades) before you receive it. The specific causes of the smell vary depending on where and how it was stored, as well as the local climate. But regardless of the reason, if you’ve already tried to clean and deodorize the furniture and the smell is still there, a good next step is to take the furniture outside to air it out .

Make sure you choose days when no rain or any other precipitation is forecast, humidity levels are low and the sun is shining. Depending on the intensity of the scent, some items only need a day or two in these conditions to cool down, while others may take much longer. And as annoying as it is, it’s a good idea to bring your furniture inside (or at least a dry garage) every day when the sun goes down to avoid frost, dew, and unexpected rainfall.

Clean and sand the part

If you’re dealing with a second-hand smell that just won’t go away and you know you’re going to be painting or polishing a piece of furniture, you can also sand and sand it down and see if that takes care of the smell. (If so, the smell was probably captured by the original finish .)


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