I have some lovely old furniture but it smells of moth balls and I am unable to store clothes in it. Do you have any tips to rejuvenate the wood and make it smell fresh?
CM, by email

The strong, sickly smell of moth balls is caused by the naphthalene, or paradichlorogenzene, in them, which is hard to remove from clothing and furniture.


Take the drawers out of the frame and leave them in a well-ventilated room with the door open or by an open window.


Initially, wipe the wood, taking care not to soak it, with a vinegar/water mix and leave to dry and air.


If this does not help, repeat, this time using a solution of bicarbonate of soda and water rather than vinegar. Again, leave the drawers to dry and air for at least a week.


If the smell still persists, sprinkle fresh coffee on to the wood or place it in a saucer and allow a few days for the coffee to absorb the smell; cat litter is said to have a similar effect.


Due to the pungent nature of moth balls it will take time and patience to ensure the wood smells fresher.


As the smell lessens, introduce a new one, such as strongly scented lavender bags, which should eventually override the stench of the moth balls.

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