This question was submitted from Rosemary
“How can I get rid of a mothball smell from a cedar chest ? ”
Cedar chests are often times lined with Tennessee cedar. Which may explain how they came by the name. The Tennessee cedar emits an odor naturally, and the odor has proven helpful in keeping the moths and other bugs away. It’s the same material used in animal bedding and is often sold in chips to line cages etc. As the interior of the chests are often unfinished and the wood is very porous, it is not uncommon to have other odors such as mothballs, perfume etc. permeate the wood. The difficulty often times is that the odors penetrate so deeply they are very difficult if not impossible to remove.
Try these techniques :
First I would recommend you keep the chest open with the lid up. This will enable the air to circulate and some of the smell will diminish. This may take some considerable time depending on how strong or intense the smell is and how frequently the air circulates inside the chest.
You might also try to wipe down the interior with a solution of detergent and water. Be careful not to get the wood too wet as this will warp the wood and could do some serious damage. This might take several applications to achieve the desired results.
If these methods fail, then I can only suggest that you consider sanding the interior wood with fine sand paper, thus removing the surface in the hope that it will remove the mothball odor. This really may be the best resolve to your problem.
You can also try to apply another scent to the wood, such as a perfume or other fragrance. unfortunately, this will only result in “masking” the mothball odor and may in fact make the problem worse by adding another odor to the one you already have.