How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Purse

Although a purse is meant to hold various items, it’s not a place where the smell of smoke should linger.

There are many ways in which the smell of smoke can get into a purse. For instance, you might have been in a smoking area, smoked and left a cigarette bud inside the purse (“until I find a bin for it”), or had a minor indoor fire in your home.

But how can you eradicate this foul smell? How to get the smoke smell out of your purse?

If you’re lucky, plain soap will do the job just fine. However, the smoke smell is a very persistent odor, which is why, in many cases, it requires additional effort to eliminate it completely.

In this article, we’ll tackle some of the best ways to get rid of the smoke smell from your purse.

How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Purse

Elegant woman's hand dangling a small beige purse against a background of white minimalist decor.

Photo by Ron Lach

The initial idea you’ve probably had on getting rid of the smell of smoke was to just spray it with whatever odor-eliminating spray you’ve had at hand. And, if you’ve tried it, you know that this is only a temporary solution because it doesn’t get the smoke out. Instead, it covers it with a more intense but pleasant smell. Therefore, you won’t feel the smell of smoke until the fragrance from the spray evaporates.

Here are some tricks and suggestions on removing the smoke smell from your purse more effectively.

Check Your Purse’s Material

Before applying anything invasive, research and learn more about the materials from which your purse is made.

If the purse is made of faux leather, canvas, or nylon, it’s most likely detergent and soap-friendly. On the other hand, if it’s made of silk, has a silk lining, or is made of genuine leather, standard soaps and detergents can cause damage. These materials are more sensitive and should be handled with care.

Once you identify the material of the shell and the lining, you can turn to some of the following solutions.

Air Out the Purse

Empty the purse of everything. Perhaps the source of the smoke smell is still inside, like a pocket ashtray or an old cigarette bud that you forgot to throw out. If you’ve been around smokey places, any scarves or fabric items you may have been carrying on you are probably contaminated, causing your purse to smell smoke, too.

If possible, pull the lining of the bag outside. If there are any pockets inside, don’t forget to flip them too.

Then, leave the purse outside in the fresh air and sun. The sun can help relax the fibers containing the smoke-odor molecules, and if there’s any light breeze, it can only help blow the smell-producing molecules away.

However, keep in mind that real leather shouldn’t be kept in the sun for too long. Most experts advise not to leave leather material under direct sun for more than one hour. In the case of a severely affected purse, this may not be enough, so you might want to try another method.

Vinegar and Water Wipe

As you may know, white vinegar is one of the best smoke absorbers, readily found in almost any household. The one that works particularly well is distilled white vinegar.

Dissolve the vinegar into a solution with water in a 1:4 ratio (vinegar to water). Put it into a spraying bottle and spray it onto the purse. If you don’t have a sprinkling bottle, a cotton cloth should also work. Make sure you apply the solution to the inner and outer parts of the purse. Let it sit for a few hours; if the smell still lingers, repeat the procedure a few more times.

Important note: leather doesn’t tolerate acids such as vinegar, so do not apply vinegar to a leather bag.

Although vinegar has a strong taste, you shouldn’t worry. It evaporates very quickly, so you can expect your bag to stop smelling of vinegar within an hour or two.

Baking Soda

Another home remedy for unpleasant odors is baking soda. Simply sprinkle the powder inside the purse and ensure it reaches all compartments. Leave it for a few days – ideally in a closed, non-humid place. Then, toss out the baking soda and wipe any excess powder with a cotton cloth. If the bag still smells of smoke, repeat the procedure again. If that doesn’t work, you should try another solution from our list.

Cat Litter

If you have a cat at home, you’re probably aware of the power of good cat litter when it comes to unwanted odors. But can you imagine stuffing your purse with cat litter? Because that’s a fantastic idea that can save your purse.

The procedure is the same as baking soda (read our detailed instructions in the previous section). If you get scented cat litter (our favorite so far are those smelling of lavender), the purse will also acquire a pleasant floral smell.

Copy Paper and Coffee

When it comes to fighting unpleasant odors, you will run into all kinds of strange solutions, but more often than not, what you least expect is what will work the best.

Take a single copy or newspaper and put it inside your purse. Then, pour some ground coffee on top of the paper. Like baking soda and cat litter, the coffee and the paper do a great job absorbing unwanted odors.

From here on, the procedure is the same. Place the bag in a non-humid location for a few days and wait for the coffee to do its job. Then, toss it all out and check whether the smoke is out. If you’ve succeeded, you’ll enjoy the soothing smell of coffee from your purse for a few more days.

Active Charcoal

Active charcoal is another unexpected odor-absorbing substance that works similarly to baking soda, cat litter, and coffee grounds. You can combine it with copy paper or apply it directly, as we explained with the baking soda.

Like all the other absorbing solutions, wait a few days while the charcoal does its thing. If the bag still smells of smoke, repeat the same procedure or combine it with other methods. Unlike scented cat litter or coffee beans, active charcoal won’t leave any additional scents lingering in your bag.


The smell of smoke from your purse can be unpleasant, especially if you’re planning to wear it to events, such as the theatre or a romantic dinner.

However, the silver lining is that there are some easily accessible, homemade go-to solutions when you want to get rid of the smoke smell. Sometimes, the smell may be persistent, and you’ll have to be patient. Fortunately, thanks to our recommendations, you’ll be free from the smoke smell in between a few hours and a few days.

Another thing we want to remind you before we say goodbye is not to forget the manufacturer’s advice when it comes to the materials your purse is made of. Leather and silk are not friendly to too much sun, vinegar, and heavy chemicals. The rest of the methods mentioned here are okay for any kind of material in the majority of cases.

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