Cleaning smelly, smokey furniture

by Patti
Hello I purchased a set of 1940s furniture as shown below and unfortunately it's stinks of smoke and an old smell. I'm currently trying vinegar and bleach to get rid of the smell but it is really permeated through the wood. I plan on painting this already painted set. I would love to have your suggestions about how to get rid of smells, if possible. Has anyone had any success with any methods?
cleaning smelly smokey furniture, One of the pieces from the 1940 s smelly bedroom set
One of the pieces from the 1940's smelly bedroom set.
  18 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Aug 21, 2016
    My go to is always baking soda.
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Aug 21, 2016
    Try Dawn Dish Soap first. I also keep TSP to clean really dirty stinky furniture. If it stinks or is greasy I use it. I rinse but a lot of people don't rinse it. I also think after you paint it it will kill the smell. I always try dawn first because it's cheaper. A lot of times when you clean it off you can see the smoke stain and just removing it helps. : )
  • William William on Aug 21, 2016,, Finally, once you have most of the odor out, seal everything with Spar varnish.
  • Janice Heinzle Janice Heinzle on Aug 21, 2016
    Charcoal briquettes worked for an old dresser that I inherited. Just place them inside the door, or, in my case, drawers, and leave them there for about 24 hours. It worked for me. Just a little messy, but smell is gone.
  • Dande,OR Dande,OR on Aug 21, 2016
    I second the charcoal, works every time.
  • Elizabeth Elizabeth on Aug 21, 2016
    I used Cascade on my grandmothers things that were in a house fire. Creosote from burning pine etc. it seemed to work wonders but try inside a drawer first.
  • Patricia wieck Patricia wieck on Aug 22, 2016
    after our house fire we used vinegar apple cider seem to work best also we found that dollar tree sells a product call awesome for just a dollar a quart that did wonders too
  • Martha Farlow Lewis Martha Farlow Lewis on Aug 22, 2016
    Charcoal inside, and a furniture man told me to wipe with a very damp rag of ammonia water. It worked for me when my father-in-law lived with us. He was a very heavy smoker.
  • Barbara Bills Pabst Barbara Bills Pabst on Aug 23, 2016
    Dry ground coffee left inside the drawers. We used this in our car after our male cat got locked in overnight.
  • Cindy Cindy on Aug 23, 2016
    Put a coat of Zinsser's Shalac before painting. It seals in odor.
  • Patti Patti on Aug 23, 2016
    Thank you, I've tried vinegar and baking soda thus far, but it hasn't helped. I failed to mention that the smell is from heavy cigarette smoke/nicotine.
  • Patti Patti on Aug 23, 2016
    I will be starting with the dawn and also trying the shellac.
  • Elizabeth Elizabeth on Aug 23, 2016
    Also open it up and leave in the sun on a breezy day after spraying down with vinegar (super strength) Personally I would saturate it with vinegar inside amd let it dry then seal in a large bag with activated charcoal... Space bag maybe! maybe you could try
  • Sherrie Sherrie on Aug 25, 2016
    You need to remove the source of the smell and cigarettes leaves a yellow film remove that the you can stuff charcoal I believe they use a deactivated charcoal like the kind you use for a fish tank. Honestly cleaning it should do the trick. My father smoked when he passed away I cleaned his house repainted the walls and got rid of the smell. I did have to have the rugs cleaned twice to get the smell out. But if your painting this it will kill the smell any ways. I always clean the piece before I paint so you will remove the source of the smell then.
  • Patti Patti on Aug 29, 2016
    Thanks everyone. It's been quite a process instill working on the dressers, and some still have a cigarette smell in the interiors and backs. I've used dawn, peroxide, bleach and sunlight. I also added vanilla and peppermint to some of the paint. Might be using ammonia next on the dresser that I am currently working on. Next time, I will do the "sniff test" before purchasing furniture.
  • Leah Ladner Parks Leah Ladner Parks on Aug 31, 2016
    My husband's grandma passed away and we were able to pick a piece of furniture. I picked this lovely kidney shaped antique ladies desk with a marble top. However... it reeked of 50 years of cigarette smoke. I cleaned the whole thing inside and out thoroughly with a strong cleaner like Lysol spray. Then I took it outside in the sun with the drawers removed. I placed the desk and the drawers out in the sunshine. That sunshine did wonders. After the day outside, I brought it in and did not smell the smoke anymore.
  • Ag Castor Ag Castor on Aug 31, 2016
    Do the best cleaning you can, thoroughly sun-dry, then prime every wooden surface on it with Kilz (inside and out, top to bottom, front to back). That will seal the wood and any residual smell left in it.
  • Nancy Mangano Nancy Mangano on Oct 01, 2016