Refreshing Cedar Closets
How to bring back that distinctive aroma
My house has a walk-in cedar closet. Over the years the cedar scent has faded away, and I'd love to bring it back. What can I do?
— Nancy, Brattleboro, VT
Tom Silva replies: Only Eastern red cedar (sometimes called aromatic red cedar) has that distinctive, nontoxic scent, which has long been regarded as an effective insect repellent.
Lightly sanding the wood with fine-grit sandpaper ought to renew the scent. Just be aware that some people are bothered by cedar dust, which can cause temporary dermatitis or respiratory problems. If you're sensitive to cedar, wear a dust mask and keep your skin covered while sanding. If sanding doesn't have enough effect, rub cedar oil into the wood. The oil (available from Giles & Kendall, 800-225-6738) will replenish the wood's smell and enhance its appearance, at least for a while.