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Antique Furniture/Cleaning/disenfecting old chest of drawers


Hi Robert!
Thank you for your time. I inherited two matching chests of drawers from my grandmother. Actually my mother, who passed away recently kept them in her garage and used them to store laminated pictures in. There were signs of rodents in one or two of each chest of drawers. The chests were kept in her garage, and have a musty smell to them. They stunk up the van I brought them to my home with.  The climate here is fairly humid. I am not sure what kind of wood it is. My grandmother died in the early 60's, so I am sure the furniture is at least 20 years older than that. Anyway, after a long story, my question is this: What do you recommend to clean and disinfect these chests of drawers? I really don't trust these websites with "laymen answers". Right now I have a set of drawers out in the sunshine To air them out.That seems OK for me for now. If I shouldn't do that, please tell me, too. I do plan to bring them in tonight to avoid the night dampness. I am not sure if I can get a picture sent to you, but I will see if someone can do that for me.Anyway, thank you for your time.


so far you are doing the right thing.  rodent droppings can infect you with leptosprisos.  not a good thing.

clean with a vacuum, wear a particle mask.    make a solution of household bleach and put in a spray bottle and spray the complete interior of the chest and all of the drawer except the front or show surfaces.  use a rag on the show surfaces.

if odors do not go away put activated charcoal in a dish in each drawer for a while.

often times the odors will not go away as they have permeated the unfinished wood.

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robert klein


Regarding American antique, vintage, and collectible furniture I can help with wood identification, styles, age, periods, historical coatings, materials, techniques, repair, restoration, refinishing. Please read instructions for posting.


I have been in the antiques furniture and restoration business and in the sales of American antique furniture for 40+ years and have continued my education in the trade attending workshops and seminars through several organizations.

Professional Refinishers Groop, Int., AIC, Antiques Dealers Association

BA Florida State University BA University of West Florida 1971

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