It’s time to clean cigarette smoke odor from furniture. This is one of the most rewarding steps in deodorizing your home. It can also be one of the trickiest.
The process to clean cigarette smoke odor from furniture can be very involved. Your steps will vary a lot depending on the specific furniture. Furniture is often the most challenging part of getting smoke smell from your home, but with persistence it can be done. You will need to be ready for some heavy scrubbing, As with much of the process of removing smoke odor from your home. You should also think in terms of slow progress with multiple passes because tar and nicotine is extremely sticky.

Cleaning the furniture will depend on the type of surface.  Many pieces of furniture will have multiple type of surfaces which need to be approached differently.

A lot of modern furniture can be taken apart.  Breaking it down will both make it a lot easier to clean and also expose pieces you might not otherwise have access to.


Machine Washing

Do anything you can to isolate fabric which can be machine washed.  There might well be covers which can be completely removed and run through the washing machine.  You should use the same rigorous process described for clothing in our Eliminate Smoke and Tar – Fabric article. I recommend seeking out all machine washable pieces first due to them being some of the easiest to clean.

Steam Cleaning

partially cleaned sofa

Anything else will need to be cleaned in an alternative way.  The next best thing to machine washing is steam cleaning. While steam cleaning is less easy than machine washing, it’s a straightforward process which lets a machine due most of the work for you.  See our Steam Cleaners Guide for more info.

For furniture, I recommend this process:

  1. A first pass with the steam cleaner of just water.  This will add both moisture and heat, which will begin to loosen things up.
  2. A second pass with equal parts water and vinegar.  Dirt, dust, and odor will continue to be loosened, and the vinegar can work it’s magic on odors within.
  3. Finally, a last rinse pass with just water to collect as much of the dirty, dust, odor, and left behind vinegar as possible.

Baking Soda

As with carpets, sprinkling baking soda to sit on the fabric surfaces overnight will absorb the odors and can be vacuumed up in the morning.  Repeat this process several times over the course of several months for optimal odor removal.

Small Cushions

With any smaller cushiony parts of furniture, such as pillows or removable cushioned parts from sofas, do whatever you can do apply odor elimination techniques.  Placed them in totes with bowls of coffee grounds or fabric sheets for a few days to try to pull the odors out.

Big Cushions

For larger pieces of cushions, you will probably need some stronger odor fighting power.


Simmering vinegar will cause it to evaporate into the air and circulate throughout your home. This allows it to penetrate cushions and neutralize odors within them. This is probably one of the strongest options for bigger cushions.  Try this process, but keep in mind you will need to repeat it a few times for optimal results.


If at all possible, close the furniture into a smaller space with the evaporating vinegar. The easiest way to do this it to move the furniture into a bathroom, fill the bathtub with very hot water, and mix a large container of vinegar into the tub. You can expect high moisture levels and extreme vinegar smells since it’s a confined area. This doesn’t make a for a fun bathing experience, however the intense vinegar can really penetrate the furniture and root out odors. Allow this to sit for several hours, and then give it a few hours to air out and let the vinegar odor to clear away.

Experiment with Other Options

Other odor absorption techniques from our Odor Absorption Techniques page may help as well to clean cigarette smoke odor from furniture.  Coffee grounds on a baking sheet  or a bowl of charcoal briquette left on the sofa or chair overnight will help. However, you will likely need to repeat this step every night for weeks to really clean cigarette smoke odor from furniture.

Lock Odors in

If all else fails and you cannot get the odor out of the fabrics, you can try for the second best option of locking the odors in.  This is as straightforward as spraying the furniture down with Febreeze.  Keep in mind that, which this process will work in the short term, the odors can return with time if exposed to moisture. Therefore, in my mind, this doesn’t really clean cigarette smoke odor from furniture. However, it is certainly still a viable option.


Wooden surfaces absorb smells very easily.  Leaving any wooden furniture outside will help it to dry out and release the scents. While this can lead to some easy deodorization, you need to be very mindful of weather. Because wood is pliable, you should make sure the furniture isn’t outside during precipitation or high humidity. Furthermore, you should ensure the furniture stays within a moderate temperature range.


Spraying wooden or leather surfaces them with equal parts water and vinegar and then wiping dry will help. This will probably require this step being repeated every few days to make significant progress.

Baking Soda

For very stubborn smells, cover the wood or leather with baking soda (make sure it’s dry first!)  and leaving it overnight should prove effective.  This trick works very well with wood since the baking soda pulls the moisture from the wood as well, which brings a lot of extra odor out with it.

Plastics or Other Surfaces

Plastic or any other surface types can be cleaned with equal parts warm water and vinegar to reduce any nicotine or tar buildup. You can then treat with the same odor absorption techniques used for other surface types.  Baking soda is a good starting point when working with plastic, but coffee grounds or charcoal should also be effective.


If the furniture is worn, this may be a good time to consider re-upholstery to completely replace fabric surfaces.  Consider price quotes from local re-upholstery services or furniture stores, or a fun family weekend DIY project. While it might seem like unnecessary work, it’s a step which removes and replaces materials in your home. This is one of the most valuable things you can do to clean cigarette smoke odor from furniture.

A Word on Mattresses

Mattresses in particular can be very difficult to fully remove smoke odor from. Boiling vinegar in a confined space with a mattress is your best option. I consider mattresses to be a particularly good option for replacement, both because of how difficult they can be to clean and also because high quality mattresses have become incredibly cheap in recent years. I can personally recommend Zinus Memory Foam mattresses, available on amazon. They earn amazing ratings with a huge number of reviews. If you do take my advice and replace your mattress, just make sure you do so near the end of your cleaning process to prevent the new mattress absorbing lingering odors through your cleaning process!