What is a Cedar Closet?

Dan Cavallari

A cedar closet is a type of closet that is constructed from or paneled with cedar wood. The purpose of a cedar closet in the past was to prevent mold and mildew as well as bug infestations from destroying clothing stored during the winter months. While the cedar closet can still accomplish this task, the cedar itself must be the right type of cedar and feature enough cedar oil to keep bugs and mold at bay. Such closets often increase the value of a house because of the wood's natural beauty and scent, though as the oils in the wood diminish, so too will the sought after cedar smell.

Some types of cedar offer good protection against mildew and other kinds of mold.
Some types of cedar offer good protection against mildew and other kinds of mold.

The supporting structure of a cedar closet may also be constructed from cedar, though to save on building costs, many homeowners or builders choose to construct the closet structure from less expensive woods. Cedar planks are then used to line the inside of the cedar closet; cedar boards may also be used to construct shelves or other features within the closet. Since cedar is a fairly expensive wood, most modern homebuilders will use other materials where cedar is not necessary, though some builders choose to use cedar throughout because it is a high-quality wood that is resistant to water damage, bug infestations, and rot.

The scent of cedar can be irritating to young children or elderly people.
The scent of cedar can be irritating to young children or elderly people.

Although cedar is naturally repellent to bugs, it may not be enough on its own to keep bug infestations at bay. Moth balls are often used to prevent bug infestations, though these small chemical balls can be highly toxic. Sealing clothing in plastic bags or bins can help preserve the garments and keep them protected, and when placed inside a cedar closet, the bags or bins can offer superior protection against bugs, mold, and mildew.

The aroma of cedar is sweet and pleasant, though if the closet is built near a living space such as a bedroom or living room, the odor may become overwhelming. As the oils dry up, the smell will fade, but the scent of cedar can last for several years or even decades. Many homeowners like cedar for this very reason, as it adds a pleasant scent to the entire house, but one should be careful when planning a cedar closet, as the scent can be irritating to people who suffer from asthma, as well as young children or elderly people. It sometimes helps to design a closet that can be closed tightly and sealed enough that the cedar scent stays in the closet rather than emanating throughout the home.

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Discussion Comments


@alisha-- The scent does fade and it's the scent of cedar that repels insects.

You can overcome this issue by periodically sanding the cedar closet lining though. Some people also lightly polish the closet with cedar oil to bring back the scent. The downside to this is that the cedar scent will get in your clothes unless you pack them in airtight bags.


@alisha-- I think it's definitely worth it, especially if you own a lot of wool clothing or fur, live in a humid climate and have had issues with moths.

Cedar really does work at repelling insects, especially moths. When you put your wool sweaters in it, the moths won't be able to smell the wool which they use for their larvae. Cedar is the most effective and safe method for moths. A cedar closet is also perfect for the basement because it won't let mold grow.

I had a cedar closet (with cedar planks) made last year and I'm very happy with it.


Since not all cedar is of high quality and the scent always fades with time, is it worth getting a cedar closet or a cedar lined closet just to keep clothes mold and bug free?

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