Furniture in front of a box

Help! My White Leather Couch Reeks

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 no one has ever sat on it. Priced at $100, you can be sure that I grabbed it up fast and brought it home.

Furniture in front of a box

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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 NO NO that will damage the leather. Do you think that Nok-Out would work without harming the leather? I’m so bummed. It is a beautiful couch and very much needed. Please help!

Judy, California

Dear Judy: As offensive odors go, stale cigarette smoke is right up there with the most challenging— especially when embedded in the upholstery. I am certain that Nok-Out is the only product that will eliminate those odors, not simply cover them up. But this is a big challenge and you need help. I forwarded your message to Lou Osburn, the owner and Queen of Nok-Out. Here is her 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.

With that behind us, let’s get to work.

1. Wipe the sofa clean of any visible soil.

2. Begin by spraying the couch completely, heavily, and all over.

3. Are pillows present? Remove them, if possible, and treat them separately following these directions. Pay particular attention to any seams, decorative buttons, or piping that may be present. (This is where odor molecules are likely to penetrate first.)

4. Let Nok-Out remain on the sofa for at least 5 minutes before wiping off.

5. Follow these directions all over the couch, including the bottom and sides, completely.

6. If an overhead fan is present, or if it’s a sunny day, move the couch outside in the fresh air.

7. In 15 to 30 minutes, sniff the sofa. If odors remain, repeat the process above.

8. Plan on at least 4 applications, Judy. Each time you spray, wait and wipe, another layer of tobacco odor is released and removed.

9. Sit on the couch and sniff around. Every time you complete spraying and it is dry, do the sit and sniff test again.

10. Spray the air in the garage until you no longer smell any wisps of the smoke odor. Move your couch back into the garage, and let it sit overnight.

11. Sit on the couch. 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 source of the odor, pay particular attention to this site.

12. Try the garage test again.

13. Now (and you think-At Last!), move the sofa to the site where it will live. Spray the air in the room to banish any odors present in this room. Let the Nok-Out application mist through the air until it is gone.

14. The smoke odor will have been removed.

15. Thereafter, a light misting on seams, buttons, 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 is a crummy odor. Remember you’re not only removing smoke and tobacco odors but a variety of other odors as well. Food spills, cracker crumbs, and spilled drinks may have been treated, but not totally removed.

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 now. 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, Judy! Don’t despair. Get to work, and enjoy the moment.

Thank you for using Nok-Out. 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. Lou

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5 replies
  1. Lorrie Ney says:

    I purchased Nok Out to use on a large area rug which sat on a painted concrete floor. I was old, and I habitually self cleaned it several times per year with a solution of bleach and Lysol. Worked like a charm. Then about 4 years after it was given to us it began to smell sour. We do not know why. I cleaned it, rinsed it. Took it outside to air it. Did everything I could –even to spreading kitty litter over all over it for several days. Nothing worked. I bought the Nok Out, and used it as directed by the company 3 different times with no success. The carpet went to the dump.

    Since then, however, my remaining Nok out is used in my laundry, etc. I haven’t used it on any other really bad smelling item to see if it will help. But I know it did not save my carpet.

  2. Dana Starcher Cosner says:

    I would really like to hear back from Judy after she treats it with Nok-Out to learn if it worked completely! Good luck!

  3. kaetra says:

    The smell has very likely penetrated the padding deep down. Unless you can remove the leather couch covers on the cushions I don’t see how you’ll ever get the smell out. I’m sure Nok Out is a great product, but if it can’t get to where the smell is it’s not going to be able to remove it.
    For the price of the couch it’s certainly worth a try though. If all else fails, sell it to a smoker, they won’t notice the smell and you may be able to recoup your money.

  4. A mom says:

    My friend works at a hotel and they use “Smoke illuminates” by Dep and can be purchased at Home Depot. She says this is the best thing for getting rid of smoke smell completely. I don’t know about spraying it directly on the leather but I would certainly turn it up side down and spray all the padding inside. Good luck and a nice find.


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