5 Ways to Deal With Odors from Antique Trunks


5 Ways to Deal With Odors from Antique Trunks

There’s a certain charm to antique trunks — they’re a tangible link to the past, a treasure chest of memories. However, like an eccentric old relative, they often come with a peculiar smell that can range from mildly musty to downright offensive. 

That’s where we at Brettuns Village step in with our guide on how to tackle these odors and restore your antique trunk to its former glory. Here are five ways to deal with odors from antique trunks.

1. Let It Breathe

The first rule of thumb? Fresh air and sunshine. Much like us, trunks too enjoy a good sunbathing session. If your trunk reeks of mustiness, leave it open in the sun as often as you can.

Sunlight helps to kill mold and mildew that can cause a musty smell. Simply leave your trunk outside under the sun for a few hours and turn it over to ensure all parts receive an even amount of sunlight. Repeat this process for several days until the odor is gone.

2. Scrape, Sand & Stain

Next, take a good look inside your trunk. Most trunks are lined with paper or fabric and, for most trunks, the lining paper is held in place with mucilage, also known as horsehide glue – a protein glue. It wants to stink up your house, so get rid of it! Scrape it out and then sand down the wood underneath.  If the paper doesn’t want to let go try soaking it with water for a few hours, then try scraping again. It’ll be much easier if you let it soak.

Dampen stubborn bits of paper with a sponge to make removal easier. Once you’ve scraped off the paper and the glue (which can also contribute to the smell), let the wood dry thoroughly before staining or finishing it.

3. Kitty Litter

Here’s a great tip from Jo Ann Cross, one of our customers: Place an open bag of kitty litter in the trunk, close the lid and check back in a week. The cheap brands usually work best. Just remember to keep the lid closed, or you might end up with a different kind of odor problem! It all adds up to just another reason that you should have a Labrador Retriever in your house.

4. Baking Soda

Baking soda is an excellent natural odor absorber and it is easy to use. Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda inside the trunk and leave it for a few days. Afterward, vacuum it up. 

5. Coffee Grounds

Cindy Bird from Nova Scotia offers another useful trick: Use fresh ground coffee in the trunk. Spread it across as many surfaces as possible, close the trunk, and let it sit for a couple of days. 

Cindy assures us that this method worked wonders for her musty old bureau. Just remember to use dry coffee grounds, not the wet leftovers from your morning brew.


While we’re on the topic of odors, let’s address a popular myth. Some suggest placing a lit candle inside the trunk and propping the lid open slightly. We strongly discourage this. It’s a fire hazard and can lead to disastrous results. Always prioritize safety when dealing with antique trunks.

Antique trunks are always a beautiful and valuable vintage piece that can add beauty and charm to your home. However, musty or unpleasant odors can discourage you from adding one to your collection or using the one you already own. These five solutions are simple yet effective in banishing odors from antique trunks. Try them and bring back the old glory of your antique trunk!

Restoring an antique trunk is a labor of love, and we at Brettuns Village are here to help every step of the way. With our wide range of trunk tools and hardware, your restoration project will be easier and more enjoyable. So why wait? Start your journey towards a fresher, more pleasant-smelling antique trunk today with Brettuns Village!