Pwmfan has a nice collection of French-made wooden utensils that were stored in a damp basement, but there’s one teensy problem: They smell terrible. Are these musty-smelling antiques garbage, Pwmfan asks on Chowhound, or is there a way to remove the odor?
Both the simplest and gentlest thing you can try is letting them sit outside, in breezy sunlight (an oxidizing agent), for a few hours each day, says Eager6, who used this method to remove the reek from resin-impregnated knife blades. (Try boiling them in plain water first, akachochin says, before doing the sunlight thing.)
If that doesn’t work, scrub your utensils with plain dish soap, Terrie H. suggests. If the smells linger, soak them in vinegar diluted with water. If the funk still persists, put them in a paper bag with some deodorizing activated charcoal, eepi says. Next step: Sprinkle with baking soda, then scrub with the cut side of a lemon, pikawicca advises. Finally nooyawka suggests getting busy with fine sandpaper, to remove the top layer of odor-infused wood.
If all else fails, give your utensils a soak in 1 part bleach to 20 parts water, followed by a session in the dishwasher, GH1618 says (this is a last resort, since both can be pretty harsh on delicate antiques). “Bleach will kill any mold, which may be responsible for the smell but then evaporates,” wekick explains. Then be really, really gentle with them.