Removing the smell of smoke from fabric furniture can be pretty challenging, especially when dealing with the smell of old smoke. The smoke smell doesn’t simply evaporate. It lingers on the upholstery. Those who smoke cigarettes are usually more immune to this heavy scent, regardless of the origin of the smoke that left the scent.
For some, the smell can sometimes be so overwhelming that they can’t use the furniture item anymore, so they decide to throw it out.
Before you send your smokey fabric furniture to the curb, try our solutions.
How to Get Rid of Smoke Smell Out of Fabric Furniture
Fabric furniture requires a lot of patience when it comes to smoke removal. Upholstery is usually very convenient for smoke smell molecules to get stuck in because they find their home in the cozy fibers.
Since the smoke smell in fabric furniture can be persistent, get ready to repeat the whole thing several times, as rather severe smoke smells won’t leave the fabric fibers so easily.
Air It Out
The first step to getting the smoke smell out is to give the whole flat or the room with affected furniture a good airing out. If the weather outside is not rainy or snowy, and you have a yard or a balcony, you can also put the affected pieces outside and let them sit in the sun and fresh air. The sun will help break down the odor molecules in the fabric.
However, be careful. Furniture upholstery can change color and fade when left too long in the sun, so after an hour or two, you will probably want to move it in the shade, into an open garage, or back inside and keep ventilating through the windows only.
HVAC System (and Fans if Needed)
If you are already airing out the affected room, you can speed up the process by turning on the ventilation system. If you add the fans, it will be even more efficient. The smell of smoke should take no longer than three hours to dissipate, but if not, you should try some of the more “invasive” methods suggested below.
Fabric Refresh Spray Home Made
Now, let’s move to some low-cost DIY solutions you can easily use multiple times, and apply to different fabric types. The method is good for all types of furniture where you can’t really remove and wash the upholstery in the washing machine, so you need a way to wash it and get rid of the smoke while the fabric is still on.
To prepare the solution, you need 2 cups of witch hazel and 20-40 cups of citrus essential oil, like lemon, lime, lemongrass, or perhaps eucalyptus. Mix the two in a spray bottle and shake the mixture well before each use. Spray the solution freely on the smoke smell affected areas. The citrus-smelling oils will not only mask and add a pleasant smell but also absorb the unwanted smoke odor.
Baking Soda and Plastic Bag
If you can remove the fabric from the furniture piece, e.g. a seat cushion cover, you can try the plastic bag method. First, get an appropriate plastic bag size. E.g. these XL zip lock bags can surely fit one or two pillowcases, as well as chair upholstery. However, for larger pieces of fabric, you may want to resort to larger trash bags. Then, put the fabric in a bag and add 1 or 2 cups of baking soda inside. Close the bag and give it a good shake to disperse the soda through the bag ad over the fabric. Leave it overnight to sit, and wash in the morning.
If putting the fabric in a bag wouldn’t be possible due to its size, or if it’s impossible to take it off, you can still cover the surface with baking soda, let it sit for a day, and then clean it with a vacuum cleaner.
White vinegar (but only the white one) is probably one of the most common household cleaning ingredients, and it can be used in many ways, from disinfection to odor neutralization. If you want to remove the smoke smell from fabric furniture, white vinegar can be pretty efficient at eliminating it rather than just masking it.
Vinegar can change the high pH molecules of the smoke and reduce its smell. You may be worried that the vinegar smell will stay with the fabric since it’s so strong, but it actually dissipates quite fast.
To apply the vinegar solution, you can either take off the removable cover and off the couch and wash it in the washing machine with a cup of white vinegar instead of detergent. If that’s not possible, you can also put around 0.2 – 0.4 gallons of vinegar in the pot and boil it. Then, put the pot with hot vinegar in the room with smoke-affected furniture, and let it evaporate. Reheat if necessary from time to time. The steam will help neutralize the smoke odor molecules.
Finally, you can dissolve vinegar in water in the proportion of 3:1 or 3:2 (more water), put it in a spray bottle, and spray it over the affected furniture. Leave the window open and let the furniture dry.
Coffee grounds are very effective for absorbing odors, smoke smell included. Simply take some and sprinkle them on. You can place them directly on the furniture, or you can put them in smaller bags made of thin fabric, and then onto the furniture. In any case, they will likely spill everywhere, so you will need to vacuum after.
Another option is to put the grounds into smaller, shallow containers and spread them around the room. Keep them close to the affected pieces of furniture or below.
The grounds should be left to sit at least for two days, but it makes no sense to leave them longer than four. If, after four days, the smoke smell is still there, you can either replace the grounds or try another method.
If you have a steam cleaner at home, you can try to use it to eliminate the smoke smell of your fabric furniture. They are pretty effective at removing any smoke odors from fabric.
However, before applying the steam cleaner to your fabric furniture, check whether it is compatible with this type of cleaning. If so, proceed as if you wanted to remove a stain. First, put the steam setting to low so the fabric doesn’t get too wet. Then, hold it around six inches above the furniture piece and make quick sweeping motions across the surface.
When you’re done, let it dry, and if the smell is still there, repeat it a few times until it’s out.
Liquid fresheners, also known as odor neutralizers, can efficiently remove smoke smells from fabric furniture. All you need to do is to spray them directly on the affected surface and wait a bit. If the smell is still there, you can try one or two more times, but if the smell remains, that means that the freshener is not working out well in your case.
Some types of upholstery are incompatible with liquid fresheners, so before applying it, check what your manufacturer says about the method. If you have no access to an instruction manual, test it on a small piece of fabric, and if there’s no damage, then keep spraying. If you notice that the fabric is losing color on the test surface, do not spray the liquid freshener on the fabric.
Smoke smell is always tricky to get rid of, no matter the cause of the smoke. Multiple iterations are often needed to get it out of the material. With fabric furniture, it gets particularly tricky because the odor molecules like to get stuck in the fabric fibers, and it can be challenging to force them out.
If you succeed with simple methods like airing out or HVAC system and fans, great. If not, we strongly recommend using some of the absorbing methods, as those will solve the problem of your fabric furniture smelling like smoke once and for all.