The smell of a cedar chest, or a woman's hope chest as people referred to it in years past, is unmistakable and reminiscent of old pioneer days. Cedar chests are a handy place to store towels, blankets or a woman's trousseau. The smell of cedar deters bugs from entering or bothering your cedar chest and items inside. As the cedar chest ages, the scent begins to diminish until it seems to disappear. You can activate an old cedar chest to bring back the cedar aroma it once had inside.
Lightly sand the inside of the cedar chest with 220-grit sandpaper. When you sand, go with the wood grain, not against. If you sand against the wood grain it could scratch the wood and you want to avoid that.
Vacuum the sawdust away. Close the lid. After a few days, open the lid and check the strength of the cedar smell. This is usually enough to bring back the scent, but if your chest needs an extra boost, there are a few more things you can try.
Buy 100-percent cedar oil. Apply the oil to a clean, soft cloth, but don't drench the cloth with the oil. Simply hold your cloth against the opening of the bottle and tip the bottle so the oil goes on the cloth.
Wipe the cloth with oil across the unfinished wood inside the cedar chest. Close the lid when you have wiped the oil all over the sanded wood.
Buy cedar blocks or discs. Place several cedar blocks or discs inside the cedar chest.