How to Remove Odors from Outdoor Wood Furniture the Easy Way

Last updated on June 23rd, 2022

The outdoor living space is a great place to relax and unwind. But it can get uncomfortable and uninviting if the furniture has a foul odor. Knowing how to remove odors from outdoor wood furniture can go a long way in helping you fix this problem. 

To remove odors from outdoor wood furniture, start by wiping the furniture with a clean rag dampened with soapy water. Then, mix one-part white vinegar with four-part water in a spray bottle and spray the furniture with it. Let it soak for five minutes and wipe it with a clean rag dampened in clean water. Finally, let the piece air dry.   

Why get rid of odor from outdoor wood furniture?

Odors from outdoor wood furniture could result from bacteria and germs permeating the pores and nooks and crannies in the wood. 

Accumulated dust from the surrounding environment can also settle on the wood and become smelly dirt, especially when damp. The dampness and musty smell can be severe where there is heavy humidity and precipitation.

How to Remove Odors from Outdoor Wood Furniture

Not to mention your furry friends that can pick dirt from their outdoor adventures and shake it off on the furniture. The mixture of dog dander and dirt can create a foul odor, especially when moist or damp. 

Any of this smelly stuff on your outdoor wood cushions and furniture can make the patio or garden uninviting. Even worse, they can act as a petri dish for disease-causing moulds and mildew, so it is crucial to get rid of them as soon as possible.

If someone in your family has allergies, such bad odors could trigger allergic reactions. This is another critical reason you want to fight odors from your outdoor wooden furniture at the soonest.

How to remove odors from outdoor wood furniture

Unless it is newly coated with a robust protective finish, your outdoor wood furniture has pores in its structure that can harbor dirt, bacteria, and odors. 

You could remove these odors by giving them a thorough cleaning, but it may be necessary to do a little more to deal with what is causing the smells. Here is a step-by-step guide. 

The supplies you will need for this exercise 

  • Liquid dish soap
  • Water
  • Clean rags 
  • White Vinegar
  • A clean container 
  • Coffee grounds
  • A spray bottle
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Nylon bristled brush
  • A bowl 

Steps to follow 

Step 1: Create some soapy water by mixing liquid dish soap and water in a container. Dunk a clean rag into the soapy water and wring it out to remove the excess dust. Then, use it to wipe the wood surface clean.

Step 2: Create your cleaning solution by mixing one-part white vinegar with four-part water. Mix well to form a consistent solution, then put it in a spray bottle. 

Step 3: Spray the white vinegar solution onto the wooden furniture. Once you have covered every inch of the wood surface with the solution, let it soak in for a few minutes, then wipe it down with a cloth to remove the loosened dirt. 

When you are satisfied that the smell is gone, wipe the furniture with a clean rag dampened with clean water to rinse different absorbents used such as baking soda. Then, pat it dry with a clean, dry rag.

Step 4: Leave the wood furniture to air dry.  

Step 5: If some odor still comes out of the wood furniture after it has dried, fill a bowl with coffee grounds and leave it beneath or near the furniture. The coffee grounds should absorb and remove the odor. 

If there is a drawer in your patio furniture and you leave the coffee grounds inside it, expect them to leave their aroma in the place of the bad smell. 

You can repeat this process multiple times if the odor remains stubborn. 

3-percent hydrogen peroxide alternative 

Alternatively, you could follow the same preliminary steps but use 3-percent hydrogen peroxide instead of the white vinegar.

To use, put the hydrogen peroxide solution in the spray can just as you did the white vinegar and spray it onto the wood.

Follow through with a clean damp rag after it has soaked in for five to 10 minutes. Wipe the wood clean with a clean cloth dampened with clean water.

Other methods to remove odours from outdoor wood furniture 

You could use a few alternative methods to kill the odor-causing bacteria and fungi and remove the stench from your outdoor wooden furniture. 

  • Baking soda method 

Like vinegar, baking soda contains enzymes that digest the dirt and bacteria responsible for the smell on your outdoor furniture. It is one of the easiest methods you can use to get rid of new furniture smell.

To use this product, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the affected outdoor wood furniture. Let it sit on the wood overnight, then wipe it out with a soft-bristled brush or vacuum it up. 

Use a clean rag to wipe all the traces of baking soda from the patio furniture. If the odor remains, repeat the process a few more times until the stench is no more. 

  • Enzyme deodorizer method 

Enzyme deodorizer is loaded with enzymes that digest the odor-causing microbes. The enzymes will eat molds, mildew, dog dander, and any other annoying thing that causes a bad smell. 

You should find these products from any outdoor cushions and furniture care supplies store near you or conveniently online. Buy one and apply it to your patio furniture as directed on the label, and you can witness the smell disappear. 

How to remove varnish smell from new wood furniture

New wood furniture tends to give off a pungent varnish smell that can cause dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath, and other allergy symptoms for sensitive people. 

The stench goes away on its own over time. But you probably don’t want to sit around and wait that long, so it is essential to know how to remove it from your new wood furniture. Here is some help on how to remove bad odor from wood furniture. 

Option 1: Set the furniture aside to finish off-gassing 

To get rid of the new furniture smell, Set the new pieces aside in a space in your garage or some other covered area where they can stay for a few days away from use. While there, consider running fans or opening windows to speed up the off-gassing process. 

Option 2: Absorb the odors with baking soda 

Put some baking soda in small bowls and set them around the new wood furniture. The baking soda will effectively remove the odors by absorbing them and neutralizing the air around the affected piece. 

You want to leave the bowls with the outdoor wood furniture for two to three days to kill the smells entirely.

Option 3: Use distilled white vinegar to absorb the odors 

Instead of baking soda, you could fill small bowls with distilled white vinegar and set them around the new varnished outdoor furniture. 

Like baking soda, the white vinegar will absorb the foul smell and leave the place smelling fresh. Let the bowls stay around the patio furniture overnight or longer to get sufficient time to do their work. 

Of course, vinegar will have an odor of its own, but even inside a room, this odor usually disappears within a half-hour of removing the vinegar.

Option 4: Use activated charcoal to neutralize the odors 

Activated charcoal is the other product you can use to remove the bad smell of new varnished outdoor wood furniture. Put some activated charcoal in two to three containers and set them in the area around the new varnished patio furniture. 

The product will neutralize the odor by absorbing the smells in the air. Consider leaving the charcoal bowls in place overnight or longer to sufficiently remove the odors. 

How to remove musty smells from outdoor wood furniture

Outdoor wood furniture can emit a musty smell when it has been stored in damp conditions for some time. 

Often, the musty odors result from dirt, grime, and molds taking advantage of the wet conditions. In any case, here are some steps you can follow to take care of the smells. 

  • Wash it with wood soap.

Pesky germs and bacteria are often responsible for the musty smells on outdoor wood furniture. 

To eliminate the bad smell, you need to kill these germs and parasites by washing down the patio furniture with a wood soap designed to clean and disinfect the furniture. Dampen a sponge or a soft-bristled brush with soap such as Murphy’s Oil Wood Soap or any other anti-bacterial or antifungal detergent and wipe down all the surfaces with it.    

Ensure you read the manufacturer’s use directions and wood care instructions before you get cracking on this task. 

Once you finish cleaning the furniture, give it enough time to air dry before putting it back to use. 

  • Sand and refinish the piece. 

Start by air drying the piece of furniture. Next, sand it down to remove the old finish to give room for applying a new finish. 

The idea is to seal the odour inside the wood. But since the dampness will likely have damaged the old finish, you need a clean surface where the new finish can adhere. So you need to dry and sand down the wood surface to prepare it for refinishing. 

Once you have sanded and wiped the sanding dust, you can then apply a new finish of your choice. You could use stain, varnish, oil-based polyurethane, or paint with a soft bristled brush for this purpose if you do not mind hiding the wood grain. 

Whichever refinishing product you choose, pay attention to the manufacturer’s recommended application instructions to get the best results. 

How to remove odor from painted wood furniture

To remove odour from painted wood, you need to use a product that will not react with the paint. We recommend essential oils such the eucalyptus flavored essential oil for this purpose. 

Essential oils do an excellent job deodorizing things and spaces and removing undesirable odours.

You can buy lemon or eucalyptus essential oils from any nearby outdoor furniture care supplies store or online. 

Consider mixing the following ingredients with about a half cup of water in a spray bottle:

  • A half-cup of white vinegar, 
  • One spoon of table salt, 
  • Two drops of lemon-flavored essential oil and;
  • About five drops of eucalyptus flavoured essential oil. 

Shake the bottle’s contents thoroughly and let it sit for about three to four minutes before applying the solution to the furniture. 

Spray all the surfaces of the furniture with the mineral oils solution and allow it to air-dry overnight. Once dry, dampen a clean rag with clean water or a soft bristled brush, and wipe the furniture to remove any salt residue that might remain on the wood surface. 


Can you use vinegar to get rid of odor from outdoor furniture?

Yes. You can combine one-part white vinegar with four-part water to create a powerful solution for getting rid of odor from your outdoor furniture. 

Use a spray bottle to apply the solution to the furniture and let it soak for five to ten minutes before wiping it clean with a clean damp rag. Then air dries it.

Is new wood furniture smell dangerous?

While manufacturers claim there is no danger associated with new wood furniture smell, some users report problems. The odors from new furniture can trigger allergic reactions among people with allergies to products such as formaldehyde used in these furniture pieces. Symptoms of reactions to these products could include nasal and eye irritation and allergies.

Nonetheless, there should be no significant risk unless you are exposed to a high amount of the products for extended periods, which is hardly the case with new furniture. 

This could explain why furniture companies argue that the low levels of formaldehyde in their products present no risk to the users.

Other tips of taking care of odours for outdoor wood furniture

Regular care for outdoor furniture should help keep it from developing undesirable odours. Here are some of the things you can do to keep your outdoor wood furniture odor-free. 

  1. Wipe down the furniture regularly with a slightly damp or dry cloth, or a sot bristled brush to keep dust and dirt from accumulating and developing moulds and odour. 
  2. Deep clean your furniture every once in a while when accumulated dirt becomes visible on its surface. 
  3. Keep the furniture in a well-ventilated area away from water puddles. 
  4. Always let your outdoor furniture dry completely before lounging on it. 

Frequently Asked Questions.

Does the formaldehyde smell on furniture disappear?

Yes. the formaldehyde smell on furniture can disappear after allowing it some time to off-gas. Though it can take up to two or more years for furniture to off-gas, it is recommended that you keep them in open air for seven days to speed up off-gassing and eliminate formaldehyde.

What are the causes of musty odor on wood furniture?

Mostly, the common cause of musty odors is the presence of bacteria and germs in the wood. This usually happens when the wood furniture is left in a moist, or wet environment for long.

What is off-gassing in wood furniture?

Off-gassing in wood furniture is the process through which new furniture products release the gas accumulated in them for a long time. Most new products like clothes, furniture, and other materials tend to accumulate gases for staying too long before use.

How can you confirm if the furniture is off-gassing?

The only way of telling if your furniture is off-gassing is when there is a smell. This mostly happens to new furniture with fresh paints.

How to remove formaldehyde from furniture?

The best way to remove formaldehyde from furniture is to spray the furniture with white distilled vinegar. Being acidic, vinegar is best in neutralizing bases. When combined with baking soda, they balance out and remove most chemical residues, including formaldehyde on furniture.

How do you get smell out of outdoor furniture?

To get smell out of outdoor furniture, dampen a clean rag in soapy water and wipe the furniture. After wiping, pour white distilled vinegar into a spray bottle and spray the furniture. Let the furniture soak for some time and wipe again to dry.


There are numerous easy ways to keep your outdoor furniture odor-free. When the furniture does develop an unpleasant odor, go ahead and use any of the methods in this guide to get rid of it. 

Even better, you can always refer to this guide to refresh your memory on how to remove odors from outdoor wood furniture.