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HOW to Remove Cigarette (& Musty) SMELLS From VINTAGE Furniture | Don't Toss It Out Yet!

I recently picked up these amazing, and still in perfect condition aside from the smells, 1960s chairs from an estate sale that was like a time capsule. (See the photos below of what it looked like inside) I know it can be discouraging to have found the perfect piece of vintage furniture only for it to smell awful. But before you toss it out or rehome try these methods!

:: IMPORTANT:: The steps below are for upholstered vintage furniture, though could also be used on modern chairs/sofas or other upholstered items. Something important to note with any of these methods do a test first on a small hidden area to make sure the methods won't leave any staining. Even water can stain fabrics if it's an S fabric couch. I am not sure when those fabric types became a thing but I know our modern couch that looks vintage is S fabric meaning we can never stain clean it because every cleaning product is water-based and it will leave a water ring. So just always test first!

And if you prefer you can watch the YouTube video with the Step-By-Step of how I cleaned and removed the odors!

Here are the steps I took to remove the Cigarette and Musty Odors from my 1960's Chairs


Let your item air out for the first day as best you can! This will not be the only step you'll have to do but this is a good start to see if the fresh air can help alleviate some of the odor

Step 2

Get your baking soda out and start sprinkling it all over! I first started by testing it on a pillow I applied baking soda and let stand for 30 minutes. After I dusted and vacuumed it off, the smoke smell was far less but still there, the pillow seemed like it handled the baking soda fine so I did it again for longer. I added baking soda to both pillows and let stand for 5 hours. I then removed the baking soda and the pillows smelled so so much better. The cigarette smoke was greatly knocked down but the musty smell remained so on to Step 3.

Step 3

To address the musty smell and to sanitize the chairs I mixed 1 part vinegar and 2 parts water and sprayed one of the pillows (I sprayed the other one with something else, Step 4, to do a side-by-side and see which method did better). Once that dried and the fabric seemed like no damage was done I then sprayed the chairs. This step did address the mustyness and I felt better that it helped to sanitize the chairs as well. The vinegar scent will linger a bit but if you leave them outside or exposed to fresh air the scent will be gone within a few hours.

Step 4

On the other pillow, I sprayed straight vodka on it, vodka is an old theatre trick to revive your costumes between performances. It helps to remove odors as well as disinfect. Some have said that it can dry out fabrics but I have sprayed vintage coats now 2 years ago, and they have been fine. I personally liked the vodka spray over the vinegar spray. I think it did more to knock down the cigarette and musty smells. But I didn't mind applying both just to really do the most to get the odors out. But just know you can try one of the 2 methods first and see how you like it and if you need more try the other method.

Step 5

Ok, this one was a bit of a Hail Mary, just one last step I wanted to try. Maybe it would have been more significant had I done it as a first or second step. I put the pillows in a bin with trash bags under them and a layer of kitty litter under that. I have heard in the vintage community that kitty litter, as it is a scene absorber much like baking soda, will draw out the unwanted scents. You have to leave it for at least a week, I left mine for 16 days, and by the time I opened it I couldn't really tell if it made much of a difference. So I suggest either using it as a step after the baking soda OR if you really need to still try one more method should the others not have resolved the issue. Make sure you use UNSCENTED litter!

Alright, that's it! I hope these methods help you and if you have any questions check out the YouTube video for even more detail or feel free to reach out!




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My name is Kelly I'm passionate about the creative arts, vintage style, and helping you embrace your inner glamour...

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