Receiving a cedar chest as an heirloom or finding one at a sale is a wonderful treasure. The not-so-wonderful part is when you open your lovely piece of furniture and discover a lingering bad odor inside. This odor can be difficult to get rid of. Removing bad odors from a cedar chest may take several weeks. During the process you may need to try several different methods until you find one that works for you.
Remove all contents from the cedar chest.
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Sand the interior wood with fine-grit sandpaper. Sanding will reactivate the cedar scent.
Wipe the inside to remove all dust left from the sanding.
Place an open box of baking soda inside the chest and close the lid for 48 hours.
Open the lid and smell for any remaining odor. If the smell is still there, but is not as strong as the original odor, then the chest may just need an additional sanding: repeat Steps 2 to 4. If the second sanding did not eradicate the odor, try the following steps until the odor is gone.
Pour about 2 quarts of kitty litter into a flat container, place it in the chest, and shut the lid for 48 hours.
Set the chest in the sun for several days with the lid open.
Spread several newspapers inside and close the lid. Check the smell after 24 hours; if the smell is decreasing, remove the newspaper and add fresh newspapers for another 24 hours.
Purchase cedar chips or cedar blocks and lay them inside with the lid shut.