This TikToker Shared Her Super-Simple Hack for Removing Odors from Thrift Store Furniture

published Apr 2, 2023
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

It may have taken years for the odors in thrifted furniture to accumulate, but with the right cleaning technique, removing them only takes a little while.

TikTok user @onceuponabungalow has posted about a surprisingly simple method for removing the musty odor of pre-loved bookcases and cabinets — and it only involves using newspapers. In her video, she stuffs the shelves with crumpled newspapers, and leaves them inside for up to two weeks. She then removes the paper and, along with it, the unwanted smells from the wooden furniture. 

The hack is simple but effective. Many users also suggested spraying the items with vodka, while some recommended putting vinegar in a bowl; and while these methods might also work, they can be messier, so starting with newspaper could be a good bet. 

There’s no consensus as to why crumpled newspapers could remove bad odors. According to a commenter, the carbon in newspaper ink acts as a sponge that soaks up all the smells. Another thinks that newspaper is fibrous, so it can absorb stenches and moisture. Others believe that chemicals in the paper, upon degradation, produce an appealing aroma — similar to how books give off that scent that’s irresistible to readers.

No matter the science behind it, the method works. It can even be used on other foul-smelling items and places, such as sneakers and gym bags, storage bins, suitcases, and even inside your refrigerator.

So the next time you plan to buy thrifted furniture, don’t forget to pass by your nearest recycling center for some newspapers.