smelly drawers


Member III
The top teak drawer I use for silverware is really stinky. It has that "old furniture" type odor that I can't seem to get out. The stainless silverware that lives in it smells like it even after going through the dishwasher a few times. I can smell with the drawer gets open from the helm even.

Any ideas on how to eliminate the oder? Everything I read online seems to point to "dampen with vinegar and let dry" which I doubt would compete with a hot dishwasher cycle which didn't work.

The only option I can think of that might do it would be to find an exact replacement drawer in a boat graveyard somewhere. The other drawer seems to not smell as bad (probably just infused from the top shelf) and the tilt-out bottom drawer seems fine.


Member III
Blogs Author
My drawers were falling apart, so I replaced the boxes and slides. Of course I made it as complicated as possible. Even bought a dovetail jig and made a few drawers out of Baltic birch. I ruined both of them rounding over the edges on the router table. In the end, I realized it was cheaper to order drawer boxes from then it was to buy another sheet of plywood and try again. I sealed them with total boats halcyon varnish which hopefully will keep out any smells and stains.


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Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
Our model does not have as much cabinetry as yours, but we did remove all the drawers several years ago and bring them home to refinish.
I sanded them inside and out, and applied several coats of varnish. While they had no particular smell before, the varnish does seal the wood against damp or staining. Lots easier to wipe the interiors clean once in a while, too.


Member III
Wow, I should have thought of that .. just replacing the boxes. I made drawers for my home-made kitchen cabinets once.. maybe that taught me enough to not go there again :).. Thanks for the idea.


Sustaining Member
There is nothing like cedar for a fresh continuous aroma. Its best if you have a few cedar trees in your neighborhood, cut off a live branch or at least go to a local farm and ranch supply and buy a cedar fence post. Cut chunks off and chuck them in back of the drawer, closets, etc., on your boat or at home. The fresher the wood, the better. I think you can buy cedar sheets for closets, drawers, etc., but nothing like a green fresh cut chunk of cedar for the longest lasting freshness....and it keeps bugs away!


Live free or die hard
Try a soak in an Ajax solution. Ajax contains bleach which kills bacteria. Odors are sometimes caused by bacteria farting :egrin:

Ive also used hydrogen peroxide mixed with detergent and baking soda to remove what i estimate to be 90% of the smell from a freshly skunk sprayed dog.

Sean Engle

Your Friendly Administrator
The top teak drawer I use for silverware is really stinky....

Strip it, sand it lightly and (as Christian suggested) varnish it to match. I would also check all the other areas behind it to ensure you don't have a garden growing - and if so, you can scrub it to do the initial kill, let it dry and then paint over over with epoxy-based paint. I did that in all my compartments.

Keith Parcells

Contributing Partner
smelly drawers? It sounds like a personal problem!

Maybe it is mildew. Try formula B. From Good Old Boat and Practical Sailor and other sources:

1 quart hot water
2 Tbsp baking soda ( I like to substitute washing soda for its higher pH)
2 Tbsp Boraxo soap
1 Tbsp TSP

Disove then spray onto surfaces and allow to dry. Leave the slight residue on the wood surfaces and it will continue to to impede mildew/mold growth.

it works great! It’s cheap!