How To

How to Remove Cigarette Smoke Smells from Thrifted Items


Whilst many of you may have swooned at the red vintage suitcase I picked up at a bootsale the other week, I just wish you guys had smell-o-vision. After a few days of cluttering up the hallway I noticed a cigarette smell clouding up our flat and upon further investigation discovered in buying the vintage suitcase I’d brought home several decades of cigarette smoke. A mission folks, a mission. I set about removing smokey smells from that vintage beauty so I could use it without the aid of an inhaler. Here are my tips for removing the smell of cigarette smoke from charity shop and bootsale finds – If it’s an item that can be washed give that a go first, failing that soak in 50/50 white vinegar and water over night or see my tips for removing charity shop smells. For items that can’t be washed/submerged in water use these tips –

How to Remove Cigarette Smoke Smells

1.Wipe with a damp cloth, then a dry cloth and leave outside to air out. This is often all you need to remove cigarette smoke smells from a vintage item so always give this a go before moving on to the other options.

2. Spritz (spray bottles are endlessly useful) with any of the following (one at a time please folks!)
– white vinegar
– white vinegar with a couple of drops of eucalyptus oil
– cheap vodka
then leave outside to dry out and air.

3. Scatter bicarbonate of soda on or into your item and leave for 48 hours. You can then wipe the bi carb into the item with a sponge or cloth lightly soaked in white vinegar.

4. Fill or cover your item with tea leaves. This especially works well with leather – I use it a lot on second hand shoes and boots which come with a bit of a nif. I found buying value teabags and snipping them to get the tea leaves out works out vastly cheaper than buying a packet of tea leaves.

5. Pour some kitty litter onto or over the item and leave to one side for around 3 days.

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6. If you think the item will survive it, leave it out in the rain. I’ve saved many a stinky leather handbag by leaving it hanging outside in the rain. Make sure to thoroughly wipe dry and clean afterward and allow to air well.

7. Fill the suitcase with charcoal. Line the item with newspaper first if you think it may stain or leave dust (the news ink may also help absorb the smell.

8. Coffee grounds give off a strong smell so scatter them over your smoke filled item. Some coffee shops even give these away free for scattering onto plants, so keep your eye out if you’re passing a coffee chain.

9. If you can stand them use cheap and heavily perfumed fabric softeners as a diluted wash or spray.

The one thing that worked for removing cigarette smoke smells from my vintage suitcase this time? Kitty litter. It was suggested by numerous people on Twitter after I’d exhausted all of my normal smoke removal routes. So thanks Twitter folks. We don’t have a cat but we do keep cheap kitty litter in our cupboard for those days when our front steps freeze up with ice and we need a bit of grit under foot. I left the kitty litter in the suitcase over the weekend and it was as fresh as a daisy come Monday morning.

A word to the wise, if drying leather outside please make sure you do it out of direct sunlight – search out shade – because sunlight can create cracks in leather. The same goes with other fabrics and clothes, turn them inside out so they’re not bleached by the sun.

You might find useful:

  • 7 tips for removing that charity shop smell
  • How to Thrift – Clothes
  • 10 Bootsale Tips
  • Image: tat

P.S. How do you remove smokey smells from thrifted items?



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