Home > Ask Our Experts > How to Get Rid of Stale Smoke Smell?

How to Get Rid of Stale Smoke Smell?

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 13 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Cigarette Smoke Smell Stale Deodorise

Q.

I bought a dresser from a smoker and I cannot get the stale smoke smell out do you have any ideas? There's also an upholstered chair with it - any suggestions for removing the stench from the fabric too?

(S.R, 5 May 2009)

A.

There can be nothing as irritating as the smell of stale smoke clinging to furniture and fabrics. Cigarette smoke is a notoriously persistent odour, remaining long after the initial smoker has left. Part of the reason for this is the leftover resins and tars from the smoke but also because the smoke from cigarettes is composed of about 4,000 different chemicals, some in particulate form and some in gaseous form, and these chemicals form bonds which cause the stench of smoke to adhere to clothes, hair, skin, furniture, upholstery – almost anything within exposure.

Unfortunately, commercial air fresheners usually only mask odours, rather than neutralise them, and so are not a long-term solution: as soon as you remove the source of the artificial scent, the cigarette smoke smell will return with a vengeance! It is therefore for more effective to look for ways to neutralise the cigarette smoke odour.

Interestingly, two common household products do a fantastic job of neutralising odours and deodorising the air. The first is vinegar, which being an acid, is very effective at cutting through resin and tar. Just placing saucers of white vinegar around the affected items and leaving them in a sealed room overnight or for several days, followed by ventilating with fresh air, can have a noticeable effect on reducing the smell. Naturally, vinegar itself has a pungent odour but this will evaporate and fade whereas cigarette smoke does not. Alternatively, baking soda can also be used to great effect. This is particularly suitable for fabrics – such as the upholstered chair mentioned. Simply sprinkle the baking soda across as much of the surface as possible and leave for several hours or even a day if possible, and then vacuum everything off. Repeat a few more times if necessary.

If the items are old and the odour has really sunk into the material, then you may need to actually wash the surfaces as thoroughly as you can. Use an upholstery shampoo for the chair but be careful not to over-wet the fabric and keep the room ventilated afterwards to speed up the drying process (you can also use a fan). For wooden furniture, scrub all surfaces with a stiff brush and a wood-cleaning solution (although be careful of varnished surfaces which may be scratched by abrasives). Let the furniture thoroughly air dry – perhaps with the aid of a fan – but avoid putting them in direct sunlight as this can warp the wood. Don’t forget to remove all drawers to allow them to air thoroughly. For other parts made of other materials, wipe down with a cleaner appropriate to the surface (e.g. plastic). One good solution for anything plastic is to cover it with cat litter which will help to absorb any unwanted odours.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of fresh air. Just leaving the items in a well-ventilated room (or even outdoors in a breezy place if possible) can help enormously in removing unwanted odours and deodorising things.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I moved into my bungalow over four years ago, although I've never smoked, the previous tenant did, all the woodwork was yellow from nicotine. I tried to scrub the smell out and re-decorated a couple of times but I can still smell it and the yellow has come back, particularly in the hall. Apart from moving out, what else can I do?
Hunnyb22 - 13-Apr-17 @ 8:57 PM
The only way you can get rid of the smell of smoke is to stop people smoking in your home; there really is no other solution
Carolyn Bristol Carp - 9-May-15 @ 2:13 PM
Please let this work.Otherwise it is replacement of carpet and mattress and repainting walls and ceiling and woodwork.
Sheerah - 9-Jan-13 @ 1:08 PM
I will try out whats recommended but hate coming into my flat cause really smellsof stale smoke so once I decorate its smoking OUTSIDE !! x
hayleyphillyx - 27-Jul-11 @ 8:28 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Jennifer Davis
    Re: Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tools
    Micro fiber cloths are NOT an eco friendly alternative. They are not cloths at all but plastic. Washing breaks down fibers…
    2 September 2018
  • Manda
    Re: Removing Body Stains
    I sweat alot and it can get quite smelly. I use an antibacterial soap and a roll on deodorant. I have yellow sweat stains under my arms and…
    26 August 2018
  • Ozed
    Re: Are Anti Bacterial Wipes Really Effective?
    I am interested in developing antimicrobial surface wipes, made of natural products. what is the hope for this.
    24 August 2017
  • Kwansie
    Re: Types of Germs
    I just learnt about HIV so I am researching on this genius network.
    17 May 2017
  • back
    Re: Types of Germs
    It is so super . thank you that you create it
    19 April 2017
  • Hunnyb22
    Re: How to Get Rid of Stale Smoke Smell?
    I moved into my bungalow over four years ago, although I've never smoked, the previous tenant did, all the woodwork was…
    13 April 2017
  • jack
    Re: Removing Body Stains
    There is stains in my body. Its not to much white. Some time go but next time is repeat last time it is seems me 18 month ago since 18 month…
    13 April 2017
  • Juanny
    Re: The Truth About Robot Vacuum Cleaners
    I personally think the Karmin professional robot vacuum is the best (Y)
    17 March 2017
  • CleaningExpert
    Re: How Do I Remove Mould Stains?
    KarenRed - Your Question:I am restoring a bisque doll with calico body. There is mildew and it looks like a spot of blood (the…
    1 November 2016
  • KarenRed
    Re: How Do I Remove Mould Stains?
    I am restoring a bisque doll with calico body. There is mildew and it looks like a spot of blood (the head was missing presumed…
    30 October 2016