Get the Smoke Smell Out of Furniture

Edited by Donna, Inukshuk, Eng, petunia and 3 others

There are few odors that are harder to remove from fabrics than cigarette smoke from upholstery. The smell just seems to cling to the sofa cushions and other furniture coverings and even though cigarette smokers may be immune to the reek, the lingering scent can be so overwhelming that it the item may be unusable or difficult to sell or even give away.

Donna West Cigarette Smoke Is A Tough Odor To Remove.jpg

Cigarette smoke is a tough odor to remove!

Here are a few simple steps you can take to get rid of that persistent smoky smell from upholstery fabric.

Detach All Removable Pieces of Upholstery And Wash or Dry-Clean

Assess the structure of the upholstery.

Donna West Cushions With Removable Upholstery.jpg

Cushions with removable upholstery

Does it have cushions with removable slipcovers? If the answer is yes -

  1. 1
    Remove all of the cushion covers and any other parts of the upholstery.
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  2. 2
    Check the customer care labels on the upholstery to see if they can be thrown in the washer and dryer or if they have to be dry-cleaned
    Donna West logo dryclean.jpg
    A Dry Clean Only fabric label symbol.
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  3. 3
    If they can be washed safely in your washer and dryer then wash them as you usually would
    If not, then take these items to a dry cleaner to be cleaned.
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Deodorize Cushions and Pillows

There is no sense putting your cleaned fabric cushions back on foam or filled cushions that still smell of smoke. To remedy this -

  1. 1
    Place the foam cushions in garbage bags with several unscented fabric softener sheets for three days
    This should help dissipate the odor.
    Donna West A foam cushion without cover.jpg
    A foam cushion without its slipcover.
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  2. 2
    If the cushions still smell try any of the following options -
    1. Mix one cup of vinegar and one cup of warm water in a spray bottle, shake the capped bottle hard and then lightly spray the mixture across the surface of the cushions. Let it dry naturally, preferably in the sun for a few hours.
      Donna West Half Vinegar Half Water In A Spray Bottle.jpg
      Half vinegar plus half water In a spray bottle
    2. An alternative to the vinegar mixture is to use one cup of vodka and one cup warm water in the spray bottle. As with the vinegar, lightly mist the surfaces with the vodka solution and then let the upholstery dry naturally.
      Donna West Half Vodka And Half Water Deodorizes Fabric.jpg
      Vodka helps get odors out of fabric.
    3. Use a commercial spray deodorizer that can eliminate odors at the molecular level such as Febreze, Nok Out Odor Eliminator or Zero Odor to mist the cushions and let dry naturally.
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Deodorize Non-Removable Upholstery

Donna West Upholstry Fixed to a Furniture Frame.jpg

Upholstery fixed to a furniture frame

Most upholstered furniture consists of parts where the fabric cannot be removed from the furniture frame in which case you can try the following:

  1. 1
    Sprinkle upholstered furniture surfaces with baking soda
    Leave on the upholstery for at least six hours, but overnight is preferable. Then vacuum up the powder.
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  • 2
    Follow up with a light misting of the same solutions as used above for deodorizing cushions or pillows -- either the vinegar mixture, the vodka and water mixture or the commercial deodorizers
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  • 3
    Let the upholstered furniture frame dry naturally.
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  • Reassemble the Couch

    1. 1
      After you have picked up the slipcovers from the dry cleaners or washed them, place the couch covers back on the cushions and reconstruct the furniture Item
      Donna West Upholstered Sofa.jpg
      Reassembled couch with cushions in place.
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    2. 2
      If the item still smells a little you can try the following remedies that might help absorb any remaining smoke odor
      1. Place additional fabric sheets beneath cushions and in nooks and crannies in the furniture item
      2. Place a bowl of coffee beans beneath the furniture item to absorb any odors
      3. Place a bowl of activated charcoal beneath the furniture item to absorb the odor
        Donna West Activated Carbon Helps Absorb Odors.jpg
        Activated Carbon Helps Absorb Odor.
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    Remember - smoke odor can be stubborn and it may take several washings or treatments to make the smell totally disappear.

    Tips and Tricks

    Try adding ½ cup of baking soda to your wash to help dissipate odors from washable upholstery.

    Donna West Baking Soda.jpg

    Baking soda added to the wash can help vanquish smoke odors.

    Adding unscented or scented fabric softener sheets while your slipcovers are in the dryer can help the smoke smell disappear.

    After misting the freestanding upholstered parts of furniture and reassembling the cushions, placing one or more air purifiers nearby may help remove the particulates from the air that are causing the smoke odor.

    There is no cause for concern of your furniture smelling like a cocktail if you use the vodka and water mixture to deodorize your upholstery. Any vodka smell neutralizes quickly and leaves a neutral smell.

    Questions and Answers

    I have yellowed chair cushions, which are not washable.

    Hello! I live in a house with two smokers. My chair cushions have been on my chairs for years. I have no sense of smell, but they are yellow. It feels as though they are cotton-filled, but I am still very tempted to try to wash them. It seems spraying them will not help. I'd like to replace them, so I am tempted to just go ahead an throw them in the washer with baking soda. What do you suggest?

    It is best if you wash them by hand, as cushions can be easily destroyed in a washing machine. If you have a bathtub, then fill it with very hot water, add a laundry detergent with some vinegar, and wash the cushions by hand. Rinse them and take them out to the sun to dry (or dry them indoors if it is wintertime). It make take several days to dry those.

    Another method is to mix 1 cup of laundry detergent, 1 cup of powdered dishwasher detergent, 1 cup of bleach, and 1/2 cup of borax. Put your cushions into a washing machine and fill it with extra-hot water at 1/3. Set a rinse mode and avoid any faster or more aggressive modes.

    Bought a used couch, cannot get smoke odor out!

    Bought a used couch, cannot get smoke odor out!

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    How to I get the smoke odor off of chair fabric, please?

    How do I get smoke odor out of chair fabric as I have bought a secondhand chair

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    If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


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    Recent edits by: coolcindygirl, VisiHow, petunia

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