Looking to eliminate smoke smell from your wood furniture? Let me share the three most effective methods to tackle and remove smoke odors! Say goodbye to smoky odors and restore the freshness of your cherished wooden pieces.
Most of the furniture in our house are antiques thanks to hand-me-downs from various family members.
Recently my grandfather passed away. At the great age of 96 it was not really a surprise when he passed away in his sleep... But you're never ready to lose a loved one.
In clearing out some of his things I acquired 3 sets of his bookshelves.
He was an 86-year smoker, so I knew that there would be an issue with the smell. But with glass doors on the top and solid doors on the bottom, I knew these albeit somewhat dated shelves would be a great addition to the homestead.
We had the shelves sitting in the garage for about 3 days before I could start working on them.
And after just 1 day my garage REEKED of cigarettes!! So I knew that I really needed to deal with the smoke smell.
3 Ways to Deal with Smoke Smell in Wood Furniture
There are a few different ways to deal with smoke smell and which one you use will vary based on how much time you have available and how you want to finish the piece once the smell is gone.
The first two options are worth a try if you have the time and want to attempt to keep the original wood finish. If you don't care about that or are short on time, then the last option is the one for you!
- Deep Cleaning:
- Begin by vacuuming the furniture thoroughly to remove loose smoke particles and residue.
- Mix a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water. Dampen a soft cloth or sponge with the solution and gently wipe down the affected wood surfaces. Vinegar helps neutralize odors.
- Alternatively, you can use a commercial odor-neutralizing spray such as RECON and wipe all surfaces with the undiluted product, according to its instructions.
- Absorbent Materials and Odor Eliminators:
- Place bowls of activated charcoal, baking soda, or coffee grounds near the smelly furniture. These materials can absorb and neutralize odors over time. Replace them regularly for maximum effectiveness.
- Sprinkle baking soda directly on the furniture's surface, let it sit overnight (or several days if possible), and then vacuum it up.
- If the smell persists, consider using an ozone generator. Ozone generators release ozone, which can help eliminate stubborn odors. However, be cautious and follow the manufacturer's instructions, as ozone can be harmful in high concentrations.
- You can also seal the piece with a clear shelac to keep the original finish!
- Paint Sealer:
- If you aren't planning on trying to keep the original wood finish, you can just seal the smell in with a very specific paint made for covering up smoke and fire damage smells.
- This method requires a special paint sealer and a final paint color to go over the sealer.
- Paint two coats of the sealer, and then as many coats as needed for your finished color to be consistent.
Sealing Smoke Smell into Furniture with Paint
This method was ultimately the one we chose since we weren't looking to keep the original wood finish.
We bought a specialty sealer that is specifically made to seal in the smell of smoke and fire damage. I bought a gallon, which was a little pricey at $41, but barely used any of it so I really could have gotten away with the $13 quart.
UPDATE: There is now a clear version of this product, so you can seal in the smell while keeping the original finish!
The bookshelves have that laminate top layer that is so fun to work with, and the B.I.N. Sealer worked perfectly.
I used a 4" roller to paint the majority of the shelves, just using a brush to fine-tune the final actual paint coat, not the sealer.
This stuff dries FAST! Before I even finished the first coat it was dry. I immediately applied a second coat of sealer.
Within 15 minutes the whole thing was sealed and dry! I did use the sealer as a sort of primer, so on the second coat, I made sure the coverage was pretty even.
Note: this stuff is THIN! I thought it wasn't mixed enough but that's just how it is... Be careful when pouring or you may end up with splattered feet like I did!
As soon as I was finished with the second coat, I didn't wait at all before painting the first coat of paint.
I let that coat dry for about an hour, then painted the final coat of paint. And lastly, I went over the creases and crevices with a small brush.
I let the whole thing dry for about 2 hours after the final coat and then moved it into place in my living room!
I must say that I LOVE it!
Also, I did wait about two days before actually putting anything on the shelves, since I didn't want my antique books to stick to slightly tacky paint.
The glass doors and bottom doors are currently M.I.A... but as soon as I can find them they are going on!
Let me know what you think about this tip. I am SO glad I found it... garage sales here I come!
Update: 7 Years Later
You might be wondering how this piece held up over time. Did the smell seep through? Did the paint chip?
And I'm happy to report that it help up beautifully! The paint never chipped, and the smell never came through, even after 7 years in a tiny house!
We ended up painting and using all 3 of the bookcases I got from my grandfather and we absolutely loved how they held up.
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