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Getting Rid of Sofa Odors

I just received a sofa and chair from my mom that she purchased at an estate sale. It has an unknown odor to it and stains. I am most concerned with getting out the odors, it's quite bad. My mom said she shampooed it, I also tried using an upholstery cleaner. Can you please give me some more suggestions? I do own a steam cleaner. What kind of cleaner would you suggest?

Shelli from Tacoma, WA

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Recent Answers

By susanita03/21/2014

I need help. I have had my sofas storing in my mothers basement when I got divorce and now that I'm finally moving out. They smell really bad. They're in good condition so I dont want to get rid of them, but I just cant seem to get rid of the smell. I've been spraying them with febreeze and even tried to spray them with mouthwash and vinegar with some water all mixed, but the smell is still there. Any suggestions anyone? My kids dont even want you be in the same room with the sofas and it's driving me crazy. Open to all suggestions. Thanks.

By jennyrowell99906/10/2013

I've recently bought a 'cheap with delivery' 2nd hand sofa and arm chair from ebay (leather with fabric backings). Bought from a company of farmers who collect unwanted things and store them in a barn whilst selling on ebay. For some reason I was so happy with the price and delivery that I didn't think for a second that these things might smell...Well they don't smell, they STINK. Think horse urine and you're getting somewhere!
I want to share what I've done to try to remove this stench because I've read things like, 'Spray vinegar on and the smell will be gone!' etc...I FOUND THAT THIS WASN'T TRUE!
First of all, I'm pretty sure that the vinegar just made the smell worse. The best cure seemed to come from baking soda and newspapers. I've read that alcohol works and think that this could be a good tip - we used mouthwash with alcohol in its ingredients and it seemed to have a better effect than vinegar (couldn't find any cheap vodka in England, hence the mouthwash).

Here's the procedure we went through:

The sofa and all furniture cushions:
First off, my boyfriend spent ages scrubbing the cushions and sofa with detergent (he was actually brought up on a farm himself but the smell that came out of the cushions nearly made him vomit!) The water that came out was brown, but even after the furniture was dry the stench was still there. Next, I used vinegar and water and scrubbed everything again. Whilst drying, the stench seemed to get stronger and now had the added bonus of being mixed with a strong vinegar smell! It was now truly impossible to be in the same room as our sofa!
Convinced vinegar should work as so may people had recommended it, I bought some cider vinegar (recommended somewhere) and sprayed that. After it had dried, the cushions and sofa still STANK like a zoo.

Our living room was unbearable so all the cushions went outside onto the balcony to sit in the sun and bake. Sun and fresh air didn't work either though because once everything had dried, the stench was still strong. I rubbed baking soda into everything and left till the next day. The next day, the vinegar smell had gone but the horse urine/camel's bum stink was still there...so I mixed new baking soda with vinegar/water into a paste and left that on.
The cushions were now painted white with paste, but after an hour some parts came up orange, as though the paste was lifting out some dodgy looking stains!

24 hours later I had to try to scrub the paste off (and consequently do not recommend making a paste for anything you care about - it didn't work on the smell anyway). Stench still there, I tried spraying vinegar and water again. After that had dried and the stink was still there..
I now sprayed everything with mouthwash. Aha! now we're getting somewhere! The cushions that hadn't had stains on were now starting to smell okay. The stinkiest ones still needed help so my boyfriend scrubbed them with dove soap and water. After that, I sprinkled HEAPS of baking soda on again and left them for 5 days before hoovering it off. Finally, I left newspapers all over the top and insides of the cushions for a few days. It took all of this and 2 weeks to get the smell to an almost gone level!

During all of this, the arm chair hadn't smelled as bad as the sofa after my boyfriend's first cleaning, but had smelled worse after the first vinegar session. So all I did with that was sprinkle baking soda on, hoovered it off the next day. It still smelled quite ripe so I sprayed with mouthwash - and this seemed to do quite a lot but the smell was still there so I covered it in newspapers and they seemed to absorb the smell somehow!

By (Guest Post)01/25/2009

Don't know if anyone still reads this or not but we just got a sofa, love seat and recliner from a smoking family and the smell wos horrible once we got it into our home. I tried everything and was at my wits end until one day I came home and everything smelled so nice!! My husband mixed in a small spray bottle 1/4 bottle of downy fabric softener (the kind that has febreeze in it) and the rest with water, sprayed it all over the furniture then wiped it all down with a dry wash cloth. It smells so good and you can't even smell the smoke anymore! WHO KNEW?

By (Guest Post)11/13/2008

Lysol spray. I like Dollar Generals brand. Spray until wet! Let air dry for an hour or so and then cover with a sheet for a few days. Works here. Chell

By teresa (Guest Post)11/04/2008

Febreeze and Oxyclean

By Cajunangel (Guest Post)11/04/2008

We had a freezer that when the power went out the food went bad. The absolutely only thing that would get rid of the odor and we tried EVERYTHING was Irish Spring Soap. You could put opened bars of it in the cushions underneath. You can always use the soap afterwards. I have even put opened bars under my seats in my car to eliminate odors in it. Works too. Good luck.

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Archive: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

My sofa stinks. I went out one afternoon, and when I returned my sofa smelled like death. My husband has no clue. I thought one of our dogs threw up. We checked for a dead mouse and found none. I've used Febreze, upholstery cleaner, etc. to no avail. It is too large to take outside, but I am tempted. Any ideas other than taking an axe to it? There is no stain and it is a regular cloth sofa.

Pat from Coplay, PA


RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

Try sprinkling baking soda all over the couch. I would let it sit at least over night and then vacuum. Good luck! (10/10/2008)

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

I would check down in the cracks of the couch, maybe part of a sandwich fell down there? I would also flip it over to see if anything has gotten in from the bottom. If you still can't find anything, I would put vinegar in a spray bottle and lightly mist the entire couch, making sure to get both sides of the cushions. The pickle smell will go away when it dries. Good luck! (10/11/2008)

By sonya

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

Our dog got sprayed by a skunk and before we could get him in the bath he rubbed his face into our couch. We could not get rid of the smell for a long time. I tried Febreeze and washing the couch with soap and water. The product that finally worked was Stanley Upholstery and Rug Cleaner. I put it in a spray bottle and sprayed the area and let it dry and then repeated it and that worked great. (10/11/2008)

By justhelpingout

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

When I have stubborn odors or want to "freshen" up my carpet, mattress or furniture - I use an empty spray bottle, fill it halfway with warm water then add 1/4 distilled white vinegar. Mix those two with a light shake. I then mix together a small amt of water with about a tbl of baking soda. Pour it in the mixture. This will bubble but this is why you have the 1/4 of the bottle left empty. The vinegar is diluted so it won't bubble over.

You can give this a gentle shake and then spray your sofa down. Let it dry and then vacuum the sofa down. It will smell like Easter eggs for an hour but the smell dissipates when mixture dries. If you REALLY can't stand the vinegar smell - just mix warm water with about 1 C baking soda and put mixture into a spray bottle. Spray down the sofa, this may take a few applications. When mix is dry, proceed to vacuum between applications.

Where the vinegar is a natural and nearly immediate odor killer - the baking soda works to ABSORB the odors. Both are good but I prefer to use them together and they work well. Vinegar kills odors NOW and the baking soda works to keep odors gone long into the season so I live happily odor free :0) And I have pets so that is ha-yuuuge! Good luck! (10/12/2008)

By Tammy

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

This tip is going to be controversial to say the least; but when you have a desperate situation, then desperate measures are called for. I do not recommend this due to color-fast problems that I wouldn't want to feel responsible for, but if it were me, I would take that baby out into the back yard and take the hose and scrub brush to it with some mild soap (done on a sunny day, when drying would be faster). I have done this when I felt that the problem was worse than the solution, and so far (knock on wood), I haven't ruined anything yet.

If the item is unusable as it is, then you have to salvage it any way you can. I realize that no one in the world but me would do it this way, but, if the item is un-usable anyway, it sure couldn't hurt, and it might just help. I have salvaged many an item in this fashion, but, like I said, it's a "what I would do if it were me" type of thing, not something that I am recommending.

Or: (and feel free to use this tip), a good airing-out does wonders sometimes- open up the house so the air can go through, or sit the item on the covered carport for a couple of days, and see if that helps. Good luck. (10/12/2008)

By heaven4441

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

I would call a furniture cleaning company. (10/12/2008)

By Yaffa Dreams

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

My Co-work has used a mixture of white vinegar and water. Stanley Steamer deodorize works great but the first is cheaper. Good Luck! (10/12/2008)

By Anner2001

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

If it smells like something dead, then it probably is. you may have to take it outside. Little creatures can crawl into the padding or the framework. My mother-in-law had a snake in her couch once, honest. We had to take it outside and turn it upside down, but that little fella couldn't hide forever. If all else fails, it may be time to shop for a new one. vguy (10/12/2008)

By vguy

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

Setting A bowl of vinegar in a room overnight will take all kinds of odors out. Just be sure and don't let children or pets consume it. Good Luck! Blessings, Debra (10/14/2008)

By Deb816

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

I don't know if this will work on a sofa, but it works on a freezer that has a rotten meat smell. Just get some charcoal briquettes (like Kingsford). Put them under the cushions, and stuff them down the sides and in the bottom if you can. It absorbs the odor. Good luck! (10/15/2008)

By PICO

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

I would flip it over and carefully remove the fabric that is used to cover the underside of the framework. Maybe something managed to get in there and if you get it out, you could be rid of the smell. We once had a kitten who clawed through the flimsy fabric of our old couch and would hide in there. (10/15/2008)

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

Find an enzyme cleaner and water down and sponge on the cloth. Do not get to wet as then you will have mold and mildew smells. It takes a couple of days for the enzyme to eat the bacteria causing the odor. (10/15/2008)

By Pollu

RE: Getting Rid Of Sofa Odors

The only thing I have found that has gotten odors out of everything I have tried it on is a product called ODOBAN. I buy it at Sam's Club in a gallon. You can use it full strength or dilute it and use it like Febreze. I think you can buy a smaller bottle of it to try at WalMart. Good Luck! (10/17/2008)

By Cindy S.

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