When you buy used furniture sometimes musty, dusty, pet, and smoke smells come with it. When it comes to severe pet and smoke odors, I’ll usually pass on a piece. They are notoriously hard to completely remove from furniture, especially upholstery. But, there are times when a piece sneaks through my filters or I’ll make an exception if I think I can remedy the issue. Jeff picked up this Facebook Marketplace find for me and, while I told him to check for sturdiness and a few other things, I didn’t tell him to check for odors. As soon as we brought it in, I would have to address the lingering stale smoke smell that came with this beautiful antique quartersawn oak table. So, I thought I would take you along and share how I go about cleaning a smoke smell out of wood furniture.
This is the table I spotted on Facebook Marketplace that was perfect for our family room makeover. It is 48″ wide, making it large enough for puzzles and games, and I love the exotic wood grain and claw feet.
cleaning a smoke smell out of wood furniture | the supplies
For this particular piece, I gave it an initial wipe-down with some mild household cleaner and that wasn’t enough to get rid of the stale smoke smell. So, I took it to the next step and actually washed the piece. Most people feel like they can’t wash wood, but you definitely can! The key is to not let water sit on the piece, which might cause watermarks, warping, or damage to the finish.
These are the supplies I used to wash this piece…
- Murphy Oil Soap
- sponge (I use Scotch-Brite non-scratch sponges)
- old towel
- bucket or container for water
- Essential oil (I selected Thieves.)
- Microfiber cloth
cleaning a smoke smell out of wood furniture | the steps
It’s ideal if this can be done outside on a warm, sunny day but, as I did, you can do it inside. You can put the table on a dropcloth, piece of plastic, or just have an old towel under the area you’re scrubbing to catch any drips.
1.) Fill your bucket or container with warm water and 1 tsp Murphy Oil Soap per 1 cup warm water. This is a good soap to use on wood and for cleaning a smoke smell (or other strong odors) out of wood furniture.
2.) Wet the sponge and work up a lather in the container/bucket. Scrub the soapy water over the wood surface, working in sections. Dry the surface with a towel and repeat this step on the rest of the piece of furniture.
(Eventhough I had already wiped down this table, you can see how dirty the water got!)
Because odors will absorb into all of the finish and/or wood, not just the surface area that gets the most use, you have to scrub the entire peice. In the case of this table, I scrubbed the top, sides, apron, underside, and all of the way down to the toes.
I scrubbed a few of the areas 2-3 times until I was no longer smelling the smoke when I put my nose right to the surface.
3.) Once the table is clean and dry, put a few drops of your favorite essential oil on a microfiber cloth and rub it over the entire piece. This isn’t to hydrate the wood, but to just deoderize it a bit and make it smell nice. This is an extra step that isn’t necessary, but I liked adding a fresh, natural scent to this table.
The table is now not only squeaky clean, but it smells nice.
I love buying antique pieces of furniture, but it will drive me nuts if the piece is stinky! When I was putting the crystals on the chandelier, the odor was really bothering me, so I scrubbed it as soon as I finished.
As is the case with some stains, it’s possible for the odor to surface again, especially an odor like smoke that really permeates the finish and the grain of the wood. Repeat this process again as many times as is required. It’s been a couple of days and the smell hasn’t returned, yet, so that’s a good sign!
This method will also work well on pet smells or pieces that have been stored in barns, attics, are musty, etc.
If you want some other tips on cleaning and sealing furniture, you can find a lot more information in these posts…
And, as a family room update, the empire dresser sold yesterday! After weeks of having it listed, I was pretty sure it was going to stay, but it went off to a new home. I am now on the hunt for a great cabinet that will add more height and provide better storage for games and puzzles.