New furniture may smell of formaldehyde or chemical odors because of materials used in the manufacturing process. Air out the furniture for as long as possible before bringing it indoors, or leave it in a closed room for a few days with the windows open. You may still notice a slight odor even after airing and deodorizing the furniture; the odor will go away over time.
Air It Out
Whether you're dealing with a new sofa or a new dresser, it may smell strongly of formaldehyde. This chemical is used during the manufacture of many furniture pieces made from plywood or particleboard; it is also present in some adhesives used in furniture manufacture. Remove packaging materials or plastic covering the furniture before you take the furniture into your home. If possible, allow the furniture to off-gas -- release fumes outside for several days -- before bringing it into the house. A porch, patio under a protective shade, carport or garage with an open door are all places you can freshen up that furniture before it enters your home. If you're unable to keep the furniture outdoors, place it in a room with a door that seals it off from the rest of the house. Open all the windows and place a fan in an open window, drawing air out of the room. Turn on a ceiling fan if possible.
- Open all the doors or drawers on the furniture piece so the inside areas receive fresh air as well.
- Remove cushions or pillows on upholstered furniture and air each piece out separately.
Additional Odor Removal
The furniture will still smell a bit even after you air it out. It takes a little time to reduce the odor to an almost unnoticeable level, but a few odor-removing natural substances can speed up the process.
- Sprinkle baking soda over upholstered furniture and its cushions, vacuuming it up after an hour or so.
- For furniture with doors or drawers, place a bowl of baking soda inside the cabinet or drawer, close the door or drawer; then remove the baking soda the next day. Repeat the process, as necessary.
- A bowl of dry coffee grounds can also be used to absorb odors inside a cabinet or drawer. Wad up a sheet of newspaper and set it next to the bowl for additional odor removal.
- Keep the furniture out of direct sunlight once it's in your house -- the heat from the sunlight may cause the piece to off-gas more than it would otherwise.
- If you are sensitive to formaldehyde odor emanating from plywood or particleboard furniture, seal the exposed material with an eco-friendly clear coat or with an eco-friendly primer and paint. Eco-friendly products do not emit volatile organic compounds the way some standard products do, so you won't have to worry about breathing in other chemicals.