Hey there, friends! Yesterday I shared with you a dresser that went from beat up and unloved to reloved and midcentury chic. If you saw the before photos you know that it was in rough shape…. structurally sound, but needing some serious TLC on its finish and it smelled terribly of smoke. Often I ask when I respond to a listing on craigslist or facebook if the piece is in a smoke-free home, and if it is going in our home I ask about cats because Chris has allergies. Every once in a while, it slips my mind to ask. When I replied about this particular dresser, I completely forgot to ask, and when I arrived to pick it up, the house smelled like smoke, the seller had a smoker’s voice, and I knew the dresser was going to smell and I was kicking myself for not asking. It was a really low price, and I had already driven 30 minutes away to pick it up, so I bought it anyhow, and planned to bring it home to detox using a method I’ve used in all my 10 years of refinishing furniture. Today I am going to tell you how to rid vintage furniture of smoke and other odors.
- Outdoor space & 24 hours of dry air
- Baking soda
- Distilled vinegar
- Clean rag
- The first step in this process requires at least 24 hours outside in good quality dry air. If the air is too humid, it could damage the wood or veneer on your pieces, so make sure it’s relatively dry and there’s no rain in the forecast. Remove all drawers and open all doors (if cabinet). Sprinkle baking soda inside the drawers as well as the interior of the body of furniture. You can see here how I sprinkled it in the drawers as well as in the drawer slots of the dresser.Allow everything to sit outside like that, airing out, for at least 24 hours. I left these pieces as such for 48 hours because I was not in a rush and we had a clear forecast. The longer it can are out like this the better.
- Remove the baking soda by either vacuuming or sweeping it out of the pieces.
- Mix water and distilled vinegar in a 1:1 ratio. I use a clear measuring cup for easy measuring purposes. Dip a clean rag into the water and vinegar solution, and simply wipe the drawers down. You should hear a satisfying little sizzle as the solution makes contact with any remaining baking soda. Wipe the piece thoroughly all over, inside the body, and inside the drawers.
- Allow it to air out and dry fully for about an hour and give it the sniff test. If it passes the sniff test you are good to go! If not, repeat this process until it passes.
I’ve had pieces I’ve had to repeat this cycle on 3 times, and it’s tedious and painstaking when all you want to do is make it pretty, but who wants furniture that smells like cigarettes? Not me! It’s worth the process and takes little time and costs barely anything to do, so in my opinion it’s totally worth it to have a pieces that smells like… well, nothing, frankly!