Dear Mary: I found a great deal on a gorgeous couch at an estate sale. It is upholstered in white leather and appears to be new — as if no one has ever sat on it. Priced at $100, you can be sure that I grabbed it up fast and brought it home.
I put it in the garage. Then it hit me — the reeking smell of old, nasty cigarette smoke. Once I closed the garage door, that smell almost knocked me over. I just didn’t notice this at the sale.
I’ve done a little research on how to rid leather of cigarette odors. Some say to wash it down with vinegar and allow it to dry. Others say no, that will damage the leather. Do you think that Nok-Out, the odor eliminator you often recommend, would work without harming the leather? I’m so bummed. It is a beautiful couch and very much needed. Please help! — Judy
Dear Judy: As offensive odors go, stale cigarette smoke is right up there with the most challenging — especially when embedded in upholstery. I am certain that Nok-Out (nok-out.com) is the only product that will eliminate those odors, not simply cover them up. The good news for you is that Nok-Out is not toxic and completely safe around children and pets.
This is a big challenge and you need help. I forwarded your message to Ted Price at Nok-Out. Here is his response:
Dear Judy: Before you read further, remember you got a GREAT deal. That makes it worth the effort that will be required to make this couch functional. Nok-Out can help you eliminate the smoke odor, even on leather. Here’s how to do it:
First, let’s re-think leather. Since leather is the skin of an animal, the pores are much closer, thicker and deeper than almost any fabric that is used for clothing or upholstery.
Insidious smoke and tobacco odors penetrate those pores, and if not treated regularly, will also contaminate the padding in furniture. Don’t despair! If you are patient, persistent and committed to this task, Nok-Out will eliminate these odors.
Don’t expect results immediately. It will take time for Nok-Out to find and destroy smoke odors, as they are buried deep in padding, as well as on surface skin. Take your time on this project, Judy. Do each step with the intention that you are visibly and invisibly removing the smells forever.
1. Remove any pillows that are loose (treat them later) and wipe the sofa clean of any visible soil to remove all dirt and debris using a soft cloth.
2. Spray the item completely, heavily and all over. Pay particular attention to any seams, decorative buttons or piping.
3. If an overhead fan is present, or if it’s a sunny day, move the couch outside in the fresh air.
4. Let Nok-Out remain on the sofa to air-dry.
5. Once dry, sniff the sofa. If odors remain, repeat the process above.
6. Plan on at least four applications. Each time you spray and then wait for it to dry, another layer of tobacco odor is released and removed.
7. Move the couch back into the garage. Sit on the couch and sniff around. Every time you complete spraying and it is dry, do the sit and sniff test again. Do you smell any odors? Does the garage smell OK? Do this for two days. If you smell anything at all, take the sofa outside and give it one more work over. If you can target the exact location of the odor on the couch, pay particular attention to this site.
8. Thereafter, a light misting on seams, buttons and surfaces will take care of any odors that have drifted to the surface. Spray the air with Nok-Out.
Customers sometimes tell me that after treatment with Nok-Out, smells return and spill into the room, and it’s a crummy odor, like a stinky swimming pool. That’s because Nok-Out turns stinky stuff into oxygen — a process known as oxidation. That is what makes it smell like stale chlorine.
For more decontamination, plan to do all further treatments where the couch lives in your house. Treat only as needed, and remember to spray lightly from now on. If some odors remain, they are topical and can be removed topically. Don’t use any other products, as there may be an adverse chemical reaction formed.
I hope this set of directions is clear and simple. Don’t be daunted, Judy. The process of odor removal is always a simple one, but if the odors were deposited over a period of time, of course, it will take multiple treatments to reach them all. You will do it! Don’t despair. Get to work, and enjoy the moment.
I expect this process will take at least one quart of Nok-Out, perhaps a bit more for the after treatments, should they be needed. — Ted
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/ ”Ask Mary.” Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “Debt-Proof Living.”