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
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.
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!
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.