How To Get Rid Of Particle Board Smell

Because of the way that particle board is made, these boards are bound to release some odor in your home. Sometimes, the smell is so strong that you can’t use the boards immediately. Other times, you won’t notice the smell until a year or two in.

Often, particle board smells because it has gotten moldy—in that case, you can use air drying, vinegar, water, and sealant to get rid of the mold. It may also smell because of the outgassing process undergone by the chemicals used to produce it. The only solution for that is adequate ventilation and time.

Even when you take proactive steps, you will only ever really mitigate or limit the problem. This article will guide you on minimizing the unpleasant odors associated with this type of board.

Why Does Particle Board Smell?

Particle boards will usually smell because of gasses released as a byproduct of manufacturing, but the strong odor can also originate from rotting wood or fungal growth. The latter is typically the result of exposure to high moisture and humidity levels.

Elsewhere on our websites, you will also learn that moisture buildup contributes significantly to the weakening of particle boards. So when there is a pungent odor, it is usually a compelling sign that your board might be reaching the end of its lifespan.

While moisture buildup and fungal growth are aspects that you can at least mitigate when dealing with a particle board smell, the outgassing process is something that you will find pretty difficult to control. Fortunately, there are still ways to combat the odor in both circumstances.

What Does Particle Board Smell Like?

The pungent odor on particle board is usually associated with formaldehyde, a colorless gas. The smell might remind you of vinegar and brine (basically, a pickle preserve gone foul). Mold or fungus will emit an unmistakable musty or mildew stench.

A musty odor is a dampness that lingers in the air a little longer than you would ordinarily like. As we have alluded to, the situation is a little more serious when you start smelling mold. 

damaged particle board cabinet

One might say that when mold starts to grow on your board, it might actually start to smell like doomsday because it is a complicated problem to fix in such a fragile board.

How to Remove Odor from Particle Board

If the particle board smells because of a buildup of mold, you could implement dry air treatment, use powdered odor remover, clean with a solution of white vinegar and water, and seal the board with a paint finish

Sealing the particle board is actually a preventative measure to keep moisture from building up.

How To Get Rid Of Musty Smell in Particle Board

Dry air treatment of your particle board usually involves deconstructing your entire product, whether that be a bookshelf or a work desk, before moving all the loose parts outside and allowing them to breathe. 

The idea is to leave the particle board items outside for several days when you know it will not be humid. Airing the board in humid conditions would be counterproductive.

Powdered odor remover is regularly available at online vendors like Amazon. It merely involves sprinkling your product of choice on the board surface that you suspect is producing the odor. This is an outstanding option for eliminating both damp smells and the stench of formaldehyde.

The vinegar and water solution requires a few more steps than the others, but it can be produced with just a couple household items. 

Once you have mixed the solution, you just have to dunk a cloth or something similarly absorbent in the solution before wiping the contents over the board. This must also be performed when the environment is dry.

Like the powdered odor remover, the vinegar actually absorbs the smell produced by the mold. Once you are done, you just need to wipe the solution off and seal the board.

Multiple particle board sealants are readily available online, designed to prevent moisture from penetrating your flat furniture. They are also useful at stopping any water that gets in from spreading.

How to Get Rid Of Formaldehyde Smell in Particle Board

There’s no way to fully remove the formaldehyde smell from the board itself. However, you can reduce how strong it is by deodorizing the board or by thoroughly ventilating your home.

Open your windows more regularly and for sustained periods, and install fans or air conditioners in places where it is difficult to get air to flow freely.

unfinished building with particle board

You can also remove the smell of formaldehyde by deodorizing the board emitting the smell using products like EnviroKlenz Everyday Odor Eliminator

You need to be careful about applying a product like this on particle board, though, because it isn’t exactly a water-safe surface. But it is great for attacking the chemical source of a foul odor, like the one you would get on a particle board.

Sometimes the removal of formaldehyde from your home will require a more dramatic method, like the performance of a full-on bake-out. The bake-out will be more effective if you combine it with regular ventilation of your home over about four or five days. 

In essence, a bake-out is when you increase the heat in your home to about 87 degrees, which helps neutralize the chemical odor created by your board. How you carry out that bake-out will depend on the specifications of your home. 

How Long Does Particle Board Emit Gases?

If you are lucky, a particle board can take about two years to outgas. However, substantial evidence indicates that outgassing in these boards can last as long as five years

There are even reports that outgassing can last up to ten years, although the jury is probably out on whether any furniture made from these boards will ever last that long anyway.

We also know that most of the outgassing in particle boards occurs within the first year of manufacturing the product, as emissions tend to decrease over time.