How do I eliminate smoke smell on furniture?
We bought a hardwood bed from the classifieds, but didn't realize that it had been in a smoker's house. When it arrived home, the cigarette smell filled the room. How do we get rid of the stink?
—Ryan Johnson, Ankeny, Iowa
Ryan, we posed your question to Scott Cierzan, president of First Call Construction of Ankeny, Iowa, specialists in fire and smoke damage repair. "For hard surfaces," he says, "you'd be surprised what a thorough surface cleaning will do." Scott's advice: Completely wipe down the surface with water and a gentle soap, such as Murphy's Oil Soap. Then dry thoroughly with cloth or paper towels.
If the smell persists after the surface cleaning, it means the smoke molecules have sunk into the pores of the wood. Oxidizing those molecules reduces them to odorless compounds. Scott's company uses an ozone generator, but for a home remedy, some quality time in the garage with a fan will suffice.
As a last resort, if a trace of smell remains, you can try sealing it into the furniture by adding a couple coats of clear finish. This traps the smell where the molecules will break down and dissipate undetected.