Getting Rid of the Cigarette Smoke Odor

Anyone who buys collectibles or antiques are often faced with the question of removing the smoke odor from the item. It is a common problem for in 1965, 42% of the adult population smoked...everywhere.

Here are some common fixes you can try to remove that smoke smell...  NOTE: If there is ANY DOUBT, do a test area first. If the item is valuable my advice is to take it to a professional.

Books (paper in general)

  • Use 4-6 unused dry sheets between pages of the book and seal in a zip lock back for about a week.  Longer, if needed
  • Try a couple tablespoons of unused ground coffee in a zip lock back with the book
  • Gently wipe the outside of the book damp cloth or a baby wipe

Wood Furniture (wood sculptures, knickknacks, etc)  NOTE:  Always test a small corner before doing the whole thing. Always air dry out of direct sunlight

  • Sprinkle baking soda over the surface of the wood.  Let set for 8-12 hours, then remove with sweeping it up and then vacuuming
  • Wipe down with a mixture of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 water
  • Set open bowl of baking soda in drawers and cabinets
Canvas Paintings
  • For acrylic paintings use a q-tip or cotton ball and saliva.  The enzymes in the saliva clean the dirt and smoke residue.  Work slowly, lightly, and carefully, working on a 2-3 inch square at a time.
  • For oil paintings try a drop of Dawn soap in water and gently clean with a cotton ball or Q-tip.  This may have to be done more than once


  • Anything that is glazed just mild soap such as Dawn and warm water should do the trick.  Note that I say 'warm' not hot
  • More porous pieces can be dusted with baking soda and permitted to sit for 12-24 hours and then cleaned up with a damp cloth
  • Mix 1 part vinegar to 2 parts of water.  Add 1 tbl baking soda.  Gently swipe the item with a damp sponge.  You do not want to soak the item. Rinse by wiping with damp clear water sponge
  • Set the piece out in the sunlight (this may take days)

There is a lot of help online if you are willing to look for it.  Smoke was a part of our history and there is no way around it.  What you can do though is alleviate it and still have those wonderful collectibles to enjoy.

1 comment


Daye is an avid collector and researcher of all things vintage.

1 comment

  • Rose Possien
    Rose Possien

    Thank you for these tips, I’ll print off and save!

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