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Everyday Cheapskate: Help! My White Leather Couch Reeks of Smoke

Mary Hunt on

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 ( 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.


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