What is this unusual smell in my kitchen cabinet?

Just moved into a new place and there’s one kitchen cabinet that has a noticeable smell. I wiped all the cabinets down (with Method lavender, if you’re curious) as a matter of course. But one cabinet has a persistent odor I haven’t been able to eliminate.

It’s not UNPLEASANT exactly–my daughter described it as smelling like cereal, and I can’t think of a better descriptor. Cereal as in, say, Cheerios–grainy. It’s strong enough that plastic cups stored in that cabinet will pick up the odor, which I don’t like (and my wife and daughter don’t notice).

What could be causing this strange odor?

Just a guess, but the smell might be caused from years of cooking in the kitchen and a combination of what was stored in the cabinets too. I would leave the cabinets open for a week or more and see if the smell goes away.

What is on the other side of the wall of the cabinets? Could it be coming from something on the other side? Or what about above it? In the attic?

Good thoughts, edwardcoast–it is the cabinet closest to the stove, although only marginally.

The cabinet above has no odor, though it’s high up and most likely infrequently opened (doubt I’ll open it much myself). To the back the cabinet borders the exterior wall; to the right, a wall bordering a neighbor. To the left, open air above the sink.

Wipe it out with a vinegar and liquid fabric softener mixture. Let it air out for a while.
It’s probably where the former occupant kept grain goods, cereals, flour maybe even bread.

I’d try a good old fashioned box of baking soda. They even make ones now with a panel that comes off the side of the box for better absorption.

Maybe spices were in there?

Actually–and this has been doped out (heh) here in a thread or two–the “absorb odor with open box of baking soda” is essentially a psychological phenomenon with little effect. The exposed surface area of the absorbent is negligible.

ETA: Cited post/username note.

Maybe, it doesn’t really smell “spicy” though.

Beck, I get the vinegar but why fabric softener? Just for the aroma? I actually don’t have any at home because I don’t like my clothes or bedding to have any scent.

Is it possible the smell is coming from the neighbor? Even if it isn’t directly touching it, some odors are so strong they can really travel. Like those strongly (unnecessarily) scented Swiffer Dusters.

I’t possible, I’ll look for a hole in the wall or something.

According Martha Stewart it helps the vinegar spread and clean better.(viscosity) You can get unscented, I think. But do the vinegar at least and let it air out to dry. Baking soda couldn’t hurt. Get the grandkids and show them how baking soda and vinegar are fun to mix together, while you’re at it.

Thanks. No grandkids though…my daughter is 11.

Are the cabinets made of particle board that’s either been veneered or painted? I personally think it smells a bit grainy, especially if it happens to get damp.

I expect that something with a strong scent was kept in there, and that that scent has permeated the material the cabinet is made of.

No, solid wood. I know the smell you mean though.

If you live in a humid climate it could be mod and /or mildew permeating your wood cabinets.

Are you sure you have no particle boars in the construction?? They tend to attract mold and mildew.

Oh, sorry. Your girl would probably like it too.
My husband smoked cigars for several years in my tv room. It’s a log cabin. Lots of wood surfaces. I cleaned the whole room with the vinegar/fabric softener mix. It worked. No more cigar smell with weather gets humid or it rains.