see all cities »


Get the Smell Out!

I needed a couch for my apartment, and as luck would have it I found one on the side of the road. It looked like it was in pretty good condition; it was just a little dirty from being outside. I gathered some friends together and we forced it into the elevator up 7 floors, shimmied it down the narrow hallway and finally placed it in my apartment. It wasn’t until the next day that I noticed the smell. It was musty, dingy – sweaty almost – and sickly sweet all at the same time. The vacuuming and Fabreze showers didn’t seem to be helping and by Day 3 that couch was back on the side of the road.

I don’t ever want to know what caused the couch to smell so badly, I’ll settle with the fact that it must have been something horrifyingly disgusting and carry on without the details. For some pieces of furniture, a bad smell is just the end of them. But some can be saved by some clever cleaning!

Creative Commons Image | Courtesy of Sarah G…

One of the most common culprits in stinking up the furniture is cigarette/cigar smoke. What is a good way to get smoke smell out of a couch, a cabinet, a faux bearskin rug, you ask? Onions! A halved onion placed on, near, or if possible, inside the item will absorb that smoky smell!

Another guilty party in the case of putrid bouquet? Pets. This is an important one for people who have allergies to cats, dogs, and chinchillas – ask ahead if the seller has a pet! (And sellers, it’s nice to mention these things to buyers as well, not only in case of allergies, but some people don’t find Fido as cute as you do, and might run away when he greets them at the door!)

A good quality lint brush will get pet hair out of fabric. For a more heavy-duty job, I recommend wrapping duct-tape (sticky side out) around your hand and using it just like a lint brush. Any super sticky tape should do the trick, but some tapes leave gum adhesive behind, so be careful! If you have a super awesome vacuum, it is also a great tool for getting at pet hair in fabric.

And what about pet smell? The old baking soda and vinegar combo should do the trick.

First, you sprinkle baking soda everywhere, in every nook and cranny.

Second, scrub it in, get out a nylon scrub brush or something similar and really work it in. Obviously, don’t do this if it would damage the fabric.

Third, let the baking soda sit for at least 30 minutes, preferably overnight so it has lots of time to absorb the nasty odors.

Fourth, vacuum up the baking soda.

Fifth, put white vinegar in a spray bottle and give the furniture a quick spritz and then let it dry. (I have always considered this step optional – wouldn’t it just make your furniture smell like vinegar? Has anyone tried this?)

In some cases, a professional cleaning might make your furniture salvageable instead of trash worthy.

Do you have any tips for getting the stink out of furniture?

is a Social Media and Community Coordinator at Twitter, Facebook, the Blog and the phone are her domains.

Leave a Reply