Removing Tobacco Smell from Upholstery
by Lee Wyatt
(last updated September 28, 2020)
It can be loads of fun to purchase a new for you car, truck, or recreational vehicle (RV). It seems like your entire world opens up when you have a new vehicle to play around with, doesn't it? However, this joy can quickly turn to dread if you find that you purchased the vehicle from a smoker. Removing tobacco smell from upholstery can often seem like a nightmare, but it is possible. Here's how.
- Odor "neutralizers." Often commercial odor "neutralizers" will work regardless of the odor. Some of the best ones to use when removing tobacco smell from upholstery is things like Zero Odor, Febreeze, Ozium, and Lysol. Often these products can be purchased at your local department store and will go a long way to removing tobacco smell from upholstery. However, keep in mind that you may need to use several applications in order to remove all of the smell.
- Ammonia. The best way to remove tobacco odor is to remove the tobacco stains themselves. Before you say that you don't see any stains, keep in mind that often you may not notice a tobacco stain until after you have removed it. Add 1/2 cup of household ammonia (unscented) to 1 gallon of hot water. Scrub down your upholstery with this cleaning solution, changing out the water and ammonia as needed, and then allow to dry. You will be surprised at how quickly that tobacco smell (and the accompanying stains) disappear.
- Steam cleaning. Just as with ammonia, another way to remove the smell (and the stain) is to use a steam cleaner. You can rent a steam cleaner, carpet cleaner, or similar upholstery cleaner from just about any department store or home improvement store. Be sure that you clean every inch of the upholstery to ensure that you have removed all the stains and odors of the tobacco.
- Charcoal. A simple method for removing tobacco smell from an enclosed space is to use some charcoal. In order to do this, you will need to purchase some regular charcoal. Do not purchase the pretreated charcoal (since that usually has its own strong odor). Open the bag of charcoal and place it into the area that has the tobacco odor. If at all possible, do not use that car, room, or RV for a few days and allow the charcoal to work. The charcoal will absorb all the bad odors in the space and leave the room smelling nice and clean—at least, as long as you also remove the stains that cause the odors.
- Vinegar. A great way to clean many stains (and accompanying odors) is to use vinegar. When removing tobacco smells, and the stains that cause them, vinegar can go a long way to accomplishing this. Simply scrub down all your upholstery with a solution made from 50% water and 50% white vinegar (the white vinegar doesn't smell as strong). As you do this, you'll notice that the smoke is everywhere, so be sure that you use enough to clean all your upholstery.