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how to get rid of strange odor in kitchen cabinets

Over time, kitchen cabinets can develop a strange odor that seems to linger no matter what you do. It is important to take action immediately to eliminate the odor and prevent any potential health hazards that may arise from bacteria or mold growth. In this comprehensive guide, we will discuss effective methods to get rid of that unpleasant smell and restore your kitchen cabinets to their fresh, clean state.


The first thing to do when you smell something fishy coming from your kitchen cupboards is to take a quick inventory. Take everything out of the cabinets and wipe them down with a moist towel to make sure the smell is coming from the cabinets and not from any remaining food or items. Not only does this method clear the area for further treatment, but it also aids in locating the smell’s origin. Before you do anything further, make sure the cabinets are thoroughly air-dried.

Safety Tips Before You Start:

  • Wear protective gloves and a mask while handling potentially harmful cleaning products.
  • Use proper ventilation in the area to prevent inhaling strong fumes.
  • Avoid mixing cleaning chemicals as this could result in dangerous reactions.

Clean Material May you Need:

  • Vinegar, 
  • Water, Freshwater,
  • Baking soda or coffee grounds,
  • Cleaning cloths, sandpaper,
  • Bleach, wine or vodka 

Avoid Harsh Cleaner to clean the white cabinets

Deep Cleaning and Getting Rid of Strange Odor For Your Cabinets

Emptying the Cabinets, and use a moist cloth to wipe out 

Before you can begin to clean your kitchen cabinets thoroughly, you must empty them out. There will be no obstacles to prevent you from cleaning every corner and shelf. Prior to restocking, use a moist cloth to wipe out the inside of the cabinets, making sure to dry any surfaces that may have been touched. In order to get rid of any smells that might be stuck in the cabinet, this step is essential.

Your kitchen cabinets need to be empty before you can give them a good cleaning. You will be able to clean every crevice and shelf without any hindrance.
Your kitchen cabinets need to be empty before you can give them a good cleaning. You will be able to clean every crevice and shelf without any hindrance.

After emptying & cleaning the cabinets, consider organizing the contents before returning them inside. This will not only make it easier to find items but also prevent clutter from accumulating in the future. Once the cabinets are empty and clean, you can move on to thoroughly cleaning the interior surfaces. If your cabinets still have a Strange Odor you can read more below.

Thoroughly cleaning interior surfaces

Your cabinets’ interior surfaces are prone to collecting dust, grease, and grime over time, which can contribute to unpleasant odors. To thoroughly clean these surfaces, use a mixture of vinegar and water to remove bacteria and odor. Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a bucket, then dampen a cloth or sponge to wipe down the interior surfaces. Allow the cabinets to air dry completely before reorganizing your items. Thoroughly cleaning the interior surfaces of your cabinets can help eliminate odors and improve the overall cleanliness of your kitchen storage. By using natural ingredients like vinegar, you can effectively remove bacteria and odor-causing agents without the use of harsh chemicals.

how to get rid of strange odor in kitchen cabinets

Another important aspect of deep cleaning your kitchen cabinets is paying attention to hard-to-reach areas. Dust and debris can accumulate in corners and crevices, contributing to foul odors and attracting pests. To address these areas, use a handheld vacuum to remove dirt and grime effectively. Pay special attention to the hinges, door tracks, and edges of the cabinets to ensure a thorough cleaning.

The Power of Baking Soda to Prevent Strange Odor  

One of the most effective and commonly used home remedies for neutralizing odors in kitchen cabinets is baking soda. Baking soda is known for its ability to absorb and eliminate unwanted smells, making it a perfect natural solution for freshening up wooden furniture. Simply place an open box of baking soda inside the cabinet and let it sit for a few days to allow it to absorb the odor. For an extra boost, you can also mix baking soda with water to create a paste and spread it on the surfaces of the cabinets, letting it sit for a few hours before wiping it off.

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Aside from its deodorizing capabilities, baking soda also has antimicrobial properties that can help eliminate bacteria and fungi that may be causing the odor. It is a safe and eco-friendly option that is gentle on wood surfaces, making it a go-to choice for tackling unpleasant smells in kitchen cabinets. Regularly using baking soda can help maintain a fresh and clean scent in your cabinets, promoting a healthy environment in your kitchen.

Using White Vinegar as an odor-neutralizer

On top of that, white vinegar is another powerful natural odor neutralizer that can help eliminate unpleasant smells in kitchen cabinets. Mixing equal parts white vinegar and water creates a potent solution that can effectively neutralize odors while also disinfecting the surfaces of the cabinets. Simply apply the vinegar solution onto a cloth or sponge and wipe down the cabinets thoroughly, ensuring that you cover all surfaces for maximum effect.

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White vinegar is highly effective in breaking down odor-causing bacteria and contaminants, making it an ideal choice for tackling musty smells in wooden furniture. Additionally, white vinegar is a safe and non-toxic alternative to chemical cleaners, providing a natural and eco-friendly solution for freshening up your cabinets. Regularly using white vinegar can help maintain a clean and odor-free environment in your kitchen, ensuring that your cabinets smell fresh and inviting.

The Effectiveness of Coffee Grounds

Home to the coffee enthusiasts, coffee grounds offer more than just a pick-me-up in the morning; they can also serve as an effective odor neutralizer for kitchen cabinets. Coffee grounds have natural deodorizing properties that can help absorb and eliminate unwanted odors, leaving your cabinets smelling fresh and clean. Simply place a small bowl or sachet filled with coffee grounds inside the cabinet and let it sit for a few days to allow it to absorb the odor.


Use Charcoal Briquettes

In addition to their deodorizing abilities, coffee grounds also have the added benefit of releasing a pleasant coffee scent, making them a dual-purpose solution for freshening up your cabinets. Using coffee grounds as an odor neutralizer is a cost-effective and eco-friendly option that can help maintain a pleasant environment in your kitchen, ensuring that your cabinets remain free of unwanted smells.


If you’ve exhausted all other options in your quest to eradicate the peculiar smell from your kitchen cabinets, you may want to give charcoal briquettes a try. Charcoal is a great way to get rid of bad odors because of how well it absorbs them. A bowl or other container with a few charcoal briquettes placed inside would do the trick. Your cabinets will retain a clean, fresh scent as the charcoal gradually absorbs the stink. For optimal results, leave the charcoal briquettes inside the cabinet for a few days to allow them to absorb the odor fully. You can then remove the charcoal and enjoy the fresh, clean scent that remains in your kitchen cabinets.

Bleach or vodka can remove odors

Be careful while using bleach and vodka, even though they work to remove odors. Not diluting bleach correctly or leaving it on for too long could discolor or harm some cabinet finishes. The same goes for vodka; exercise caution and do a spot test on an inconspicuous area to be sure it won’t damage the cabinet finish.

Gather Your Cleaning Supplies 1

Good Ventilation Will Help Prevent Odor

Routines such as cooking, dishwashing, and other daily kitchen activities can contribute to the buildup of odors in your kitchen cabinets. It is imperative to maintain proper ventilation in your kitchen to prevent stale odors from lingering. Consider installing exhaust fans or opening windows to allow fresh air to circulate and eliminate any potentially unpleasant smells.

Install Ventilation Bathroom Fan

Reducing humidity is a crucial aspect of ventilation because it discourages the growth of mold and mildew, both of which can leave unpleasant odors in your kitchen cabinets. You can ensure a healthier and more pleasant cooking environment for yourself and your family for many years to come by keeping the kitchen well-ventilated.

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Signs That You Need Expert Assistance From Professional

It is critical to call a professional and maybe you need to replace your cabinets when you see mold or mildew growth in the cabinets despite cleaning and drying them out. It is critical to address mold and mildew immediately because of the dangers they represent to human health.

Installation of New Doors and Drawers Guilin Cabinets

Furthermore, if the smell remains after using several cleaning procedures, it may suggest a more significant underlying problem that necessitates expert treatment. Lastly, a professional can properly evaluate and fix any structural damage to the cabinets that could be causing the smell.

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If you still have more question and want to repalce your kitchen cabinets but aren’t sure who will help you, get advice from Guilin Cabinets a professional remodel kitchen cabinet company.

To Wrap Up: 

On the whole, getting rid of a strange odor in kitchen cabinets requires thorough cleaning and potentially some additional treatments. Start by emptying the cabinets and wiping them down with a damp cloth to ensure the smell is not coming from leftover food or products. Using a mixture of vinegar and water is a great natural way to eliminate bacteria and odor from wooden furniture, as well as using odor absorbents such as coffee grounds or baking soda. Stripping and sanding the wood, and using bleach or vodka mixed with water can also help in getting rid of stubborn odors.

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FAQs Get Rid of Strange Odor

In short, What are the common causes of strange odors in bath and kitchen cabinets?

Strange odors in cabinets often result from a variety of factors. Mold and mildew thrive in damp environments, making them common culprits. Additionally, leftover food that has started to decay

How can I pinpoint the source of the unusual odor in my cabinets?

To identify the source of the odor, it’s essential to conduct a thorough inspection. Start by emptying the cabinet completely. Look for any visible signs of mold or mildew, such as dark spots or discoloration. Check for any food items that may have spoiled or liquids that could have spilled and gone unnoticed. Pay attention to corners, crevices, and areas where moisture may accumulate.

How frequently should I clean my cabinets to prevent strange odors?

Regular cleaning is key to preventing strange odors from developing in your cabinets. Aim to clean the interior of your cabinets at least once a month, or more frequently if you notice any signs of mold, mildew, or unpleasant smells. In addition to cleaning, make sure to address any sources of moisture promptly to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Are there any natural solutions to banish odors from cabinets?

Yes, several natural remedies can help eliminate odors from cabinets. In addition to baking soda and activated charcoal, you can also use white vinegar or lemon juice to neutralize smells. Simply dilute white vinegar with water and wipe down the interior of the cabinet, or place lemon peels inside to freshen the air.

What measures can I take to prevent strange odors from recurring in my cabinets?

Preventing strange odors from returning requires proactive maintenance. Keep your cabinets dry by wiping up spills promptly and addressing any leaks or water damage. Store food items in airtight containers to prevent them from spoiling and emitting odors. Regularly inspect your cabinets for signs of mold, mildew, or other issues, and address them promptly to prevent further problems.

When should I consider seeking professional assistance for persistent cabinet odors?

If you’ve tried cleaning and deodorizing your cabinets but the strange odor persists, it may be a sign of a more serious underlying issue, such as mold infestation. In such cases, it’s best to consult with a professional who can assess the situation and provide appropriate solutions. Ignoring persistent odors could lead to further damage and potentially pose health risks. => Related Article: Custom Cabinet Maker Service Irvine, Orange County, CA

Guilin Cabinets

Guilin Cabinets is an Irvine, Orange Countty, California-based remodeling contractor offering comprehensive services for bathroom and kitchen remodeling, custom home building, and additions with a wide selection of cabinets, countertops, flooring, tiling, and more.