Removing Cigarette Smoke Odor From Couches

Dear Home Ec 101,

I recently purchased a sofa and loveseat from a lovely couple who listed the furniture on a popular online auction site.  The set appeared to be in great shape, and I got the furniture for what appeared to be a bargain.  When I got them in place in my basement rec room, I noticed a horrible odor of cigarette smoke emanating from both pieces of furniture.  They are upholstered pieces with foam cushions.  Do you have any idea how I can get rid of the cigarette smell?

Fondly and Fetidly,

Smokey Lonesome in Couchville

Ivy says:

Cigarette smoke is one of the most devilish odors ever. I remember when I bought my new house and issued the edict that there would be no smoking in the new house for any reason, my grandmother (who wasn’t even a smoker) thought I was being snotty. “I’m not being snotty,” I told her, “I’m protecting my investment.”

The funny thing is, cigarette smoke is about a million times easier to get out of walls, than it is to get out of couches. You can pile Kilz on the walls, but you can’t Kilz a couch, sadly. With a couch, it’s going to take some work.

 

Removing Cigarette Odors from Couches

If you have a carpet and upholstery cleaner, good deal. Use it to clean the couch with a mixture of about half vinegar and half water. You may have to do this several times to get the full effect. Using a nice smelling cleaner (preferably one that’s meant for kid and pet odors, which seems to work fairly well) between each vinegar cleaning will keep your couch from smelling like “feminine cleansing products.”

If you don’t have one, my suggestion is to have it professionally cleaned. Normally, I’d have you rent a Rug Doctor to clean something, but cigarette smoke is so hard to remove, you’d have to rent it so many times, it would be cheaper to get it done professionally. Make sure you get a company that has “satisfaction guaranteed” so if it’s not completely clean, you can call them and have them come back out to do the job again. But make sure you let the company know when you first have them out that you are trying to remove cigarette smoke smell so they can use the best products for the job.

Happy couch surfing!

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Comments

  1. says

    Would baking soda work? I use baking soda to pull out a bad urine odor out of my carpet when we moved into this house. I had to do it several times, but sprinkle it (dry) over the area. Let it sit for an hour, then vacuum.

    It was inexpensive and it worked!

  2. says

    We’ve been removing cigarette smoke from things from my mother-in-laws house lately. Washable things do best with the Febreze odor remover for laundry. For any other smell I use Out (a pet odor remover). My brother is removing the smoke smell from the couch with his ozone machine. It’s a professional machine used by people who clean up after fires, etc. If the do it yourself stuff fails I’d get someone with an ozone machine to do the job.

    I’ve been using baking soda to try to remove the odor from the family photos she had stored with moth balls. It’s not working so well.

  3. says

    I would agree with the previous posters about baking soda. I bet if you sprinkled baking soda on the cushions & sealed them in a plastic bag for a few hours, then vacuumed it out, it would help a lot. Maybe add a couple of drops of perfume or essential oil to the baking soda as well. Good luck! That stinks (pardon the pun)!

  4. Dr. Richardson says

    The Mothball oder is Naphthalene, a cyclic aromatic hydrocarbon, and that would explain why baking soda would not be working. In industry to remove it they would kelate the Naphthalene with a chlorine based cleaner, however this would almost certainly wreak the photos. Perhaps leaving some bleach in a container were it can fumigate the photos? Just don’t allow a direct contact or it will wreck the photos. Regarding the cigarette smoke the sodium bicarbonate treatment sounds like it should work.
    Good luck

  5. Leslie Todd says

    Thanks, I’ll try that on a few and see. I can scan the originals or photograph them, but I get a headache just looking at them.

  6. says

    I did try fuming the chest of drawers the photos were in. It also smelled very badly of moth balls. I used small plastic dishes with a paper towel soaked in bleach and put one in each drawer. I went back to the house two weeks later and it is much better.

  7. says

    There is NO easy way to remove cigarette odor from upholstery! There are many home remedies out there, but they do NOT work very well! You will end up spending money with NO result! You need to have your furniture steam cleaned by a professional carpet cleaner. This really is the only thing that works very well! Your upholstery acts like a sponge for the cigarette smoke. It must be extracted! If not, you can only cover up the smell fo some time. Hope this helps.

  8. JenJoyHenry says

    Smoke is one of the hardest smells to eliminate. After my chain-smoking in-laws left, I tried a few things, but I found this odor eliminator that worked really well that was recommended to me by my neighbor. It works great and is safe around the kids because it is environmentally friendly. You can find it at http://www.biocidesystems.com/roomshocker1.html