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How to Remove Cigarette Smell from Books

Cigarette odors on books can be difficult to remove and make them unappealing to non-smokers. This page has tips about how to get the cigarrette smell out of books.


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January 28, 2010

My wife and I buy a lot of used books. The problem is, often the books have been in storage, or in a smoker's home (no offense to any smokers), or in other conditions that have left behind odors. I used to apply Febreze to rid books of these smells, but I've found a much cheaper way.


Simply take a sample perfume strip such as are found in many magazines and slip it into the book. Place the book in a sealable storage bag for a day or so. I've found that this will replace odors with the scent of the strip.

Of course, use a scent you don't mind smelling!

Source: My personal experience

By Mad Rabbit from Lovington, IL

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July 8, 20090 found this helpful
Top Comment

Try putting the book in a zipper-lock bag with either a new, unused fabric softener sheet or with about a teaspoon of fresh, dry, unused coffee grounds. Leave the book in there for at least 8 hours. Good luck!

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By 6 found this helpful
February 5, 2013

I wanted to share a tip about how to get rid of cigarette odor from books within an hour. No baking soda, no use of charcoal which only mask the cigarette smoke, no waiting for days or weeks to get rid of the smoke.


Here is the method which worked for me:
I recently bought a used book online from a heavy smoker. It was really, really stinking like an ash tray, awfully, I could not read it.

You can remove the smoke particles from pages by applying heat. This is not without risks, but the risk is minimal. I would not put the book in an oven, this would cause fire, but I used a hairdryer for this purpose.

Put the hairdryer on hot position (but not too hot!) in my hairdryer it is the 2nd (or middle) of the three positions.

Then direct the hot air from the hairdryer on every single page of the book with smooth equal movements. 5 sec for every page is enough. Do not forget the edges and cover boards. The smoke particles will just diffuse away with the hot air.

After this procedure, the pages of the book will be bent because the heat deforms them. Do not panic, they will return to its original form after three or four days.

Then there should be not even the slightest cigarette odor noticeable. Smell the top edge of the book to be sure. This is the place where the smoke gathers most.

With this method I removed the odor from my book within an hour. It can happen that your hairdryer will overheat and stop working. It happened to me once. But here also do not panic: there is a protection mechanism in every hairdryer to switch it off, when overheated. When it cools down it is again working.

Greetings to all non-smokers!


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By 9 found this helpful
May 8, 2013

I had a chest freezer once. My daughter had accidentally unplugged it and I didn't find it until about 2 weeks later. The whole thing was filled with nasty rotten meat. I cleaned it out, bleached it and used everything under the sun and nothing helped rid the odor of spoiled meat.

Finally someone told me the coffee trick. Go to the store and buy the cheapest darkest coffee you can buy. If you don't have a grinder at home grind it at the store on the finest grind, like espresso. Come home and put the coffee in cheap knee high hose and tie them shut. Coffee will remove the smell of all most anything.

For books, I place the coffee in the knee high and tie it and the book up in a plastic grocery bag and leave it for about a week. Voila! No more stinky cigarette smells. I sell used books on Amazon and eBay so this is a must!


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By 5 found this helpful
November 28, 2011

Set the opened books out to air in the sun. A further solution is to place unused dryer sheets among the pages of closed books.

By Vivian P.

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By 3 found this helpful
November 22, 2011

I bought a book at Amazon that evidently was in a fire. It took a year for smell to go away. You could try putting the book in plastic bag with baking soda or flowers to absorb the smell or spray your book with orange oil. I use that for all stinky smells.

By Kathie K. from Dublin, CA

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
February 19, 2011

I would like help for getting cigarette smell out of hardback books and paperback books?

By Patricia from Ramona, CA



February 22, 20110 found this helpful

Hi Patricia,

I had the same problem with a large collection of postcards that I had purchased from an estate. What I tried was putting them in a cardboard box that was big enough to allow air space, put in 2 bounce dryer sheets and closed the box up for about a week. I was amazed when I opened the box back up - there was no sign of the cigarette smell ramaining at all. HTH

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September 1, 20111 found this helpful

I use to smoke and since I've moved 3 years ago my entire bookshelf has been packed away in boxes. I went to take them out and omg. I can't believe what my house must have smelled like. There are 6 large Rubbermaid containers full plus a few boxes. How will I ever get the smell out of my treasured books? Quickest and most effective. Help please!

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November 15, 20050 found this helpful

Please tell me how I can get tobacco odors out of hard back books.

Carrie Shuter from Meridian, Idaho


By guest (Guest Post)
November 15, 20050 found this helpful

I too had the task of taking that awful smell off of books and video cases, what I did was to get a pan of warm water with Tide in it , use a cloth that is wrung out fairly dry, wipe the jacket of the books,also stand the book on end so that you can wipe the ends and sides off, You will be amazed at the color of the water After I finished doing that i wiped them dry,"as best I could" and I tore up sheets of Fabric softener putting the part sheets 4-6 in each book. Then putting the books in an airtight bag for a few weeks. after that I aired them out and they were not too bad for smell. I had a real collection of about 50 books that were given me and They were just too valuable to throw out. I do hope this helps.

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By guest (Guest Post)
November 17, 20051 found this helpful

When I buy used books or from the Library I wipe the outside with baby wipes and spray a shot of lysol. Then I spray Lysol as I fan the pages. Lysol dries quickly. Try and keep a 10 inch distance. If you happen to spray closer no big deal. Lysol dries fast. Smells gone! And germs too!
Jennifer CA

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

January 28, 20101 found this helpful

How do I remove smoke odors from books?

By bigharv from Denver, CO


Removing Smoke Odor on Books

Try putting the book in a zipper-lock bag with either a new, unused fabric softener sheet or with about a teaspoon of fresh, dry, unused coffee grounds. Leave the book in there for at least 8 hours. Good luck! (07/08/2009)

By Lynn from Calif.

Comment Was this helpful? 1

December 10, 20091 found this helpful

How do you get cigarette smoke smell off of books?

By Maria from CA


Getting Cigarette Smell Out of Books

I would spray the pages with air freshener. Just hold the book at a distance so the pages don't get wet. (11/13/2009)

By evarun21

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October 27, 20091 found this helpful

Does anyone know how to get the smell of cigarette smoke out of books? A friend just gave me a wonderful cookbook that she bought at a yard sale and it smells so strong that my allergies go wild. It is a small spiral bound book about 1 inch thick.

SandyC from Indianapolis, IN


Getting Cigarette Smell Out of Books

Dryer sheets are full of toxic chemicals which are far worse for you to breathe than the cigarette smell you're trying to get rid of. Best off to use the suggestions involving natural methods. (11/12/2008)

By kcsaunt

Getting Cigarette Smell Out of Books

Try wrapping your book in a towel and placing the book in a bag of baking soda or even fresh (of course) cat litter for few days. It works.

I've even poured baking soda on the pages here and there and then placed it inside a bag, paper or plastic to remove the smell. Shaking the baking soda from the pages can be a pain, but it did remove the smell. (05/01/2009)

By Anonymous

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June 24, 20081 found this helpful

Cigarette smoke in books? Here's what I do to get rid of it. I take a large ziplock and depending on the severity and size of the books maybe 4 or 5 dryer sheets. I put some of the dryer sheets inside the books in various pages and two just inside the ziplock. Put the book in with the dryer sheets and seal. I check on the book once a week to see if the smoke smell is gone. I leave some of the sheets in the book so it stays dryer fresh.

By debradj from Illinois


Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

Dyer sheets worked really well. I received a book from an eBay bid and it had a very musty smell. In a matter of two weeks, the smell was gone forever. (06/04/2008)

By Kathy

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

Thanks so much! I have been plagued with this smoke and must problem in books for the longest time and was hoping, other than putting them out in the sun or fresh air that there might be another way to manage this issue. So I am going to give it a try and am hoping for the best. I am a huge book collector too! (06/17/2008)

By Penny Foss

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February 19, 20110 found this helpful

How can you get cigarette smoke smell out of books?

By Vikki from Tucson, AZ


Getting Cigarette Smell Out of Books

Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of a brown paper bag, then place the book inside and fold the top of the bag over two or three times. Leave the book inside the bag for several days (5-7). This has worked well for me in the past and the baking soda won't damage the book like liquids can. (12/10/2009)

By Millhouse1

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June 4, 20080 found this helpful

I recently purchased some books over the internet. They smell like cigarette smoke. Any suggestions to rid the books of this smell?



Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

Put them out in the sun on a nice day. Open them up. Periodically change the pages to expose new areas. This has worked for old musty books for me. (01/30/2001)

By lelbel

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

Place the books in a large plastic bag, sprinkle in some baking soda and close. After a few days the smell should be removed from the books. Just shake or dust off the baking soda. Don't use the baking soda for cooking afterwards, instead use to freshen your sink drains. (01/30/2001)

By kcohenvt

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

According to "Typical Mary Ellen", newspaper is good for removing odors. I'd wrap up the books with wads of newspaper in a plastic bag and leave them for a while. It may need to be repeated. For most people, newspapers are "free." (02/01/2001)

By sward

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

This happened to me, too. I hate the smell of smoke! I packed the book into a plastic bag with a paper package of scented bath salts. You might try an unwrapped scented soap, too. Best of luck! (02/03/2001)

By katkitkat

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

I tried the baking soda in the plastic bag with the book and its been weeks and it still stinks. How long am i suppose to do this? (04/08/2004)


Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

I found this on another board:

"It's too damp where I live to put anything valued out into the open air. I'd recommend putting the book into a chamber of some sort (I use a large rigid plastic box with a sealable lid) together with a zeolite, such as activated charcoal. I've experimented with several books that smelled musty by wrapping them well in pellon (spun polyester material, sold in fabric stores), then burying the wrapped book in deodorizing cat litter, which has a zeolite in it. After a few days the books smell fine, but as they weren't MY books, I don't know whether they have remained odor free. However, no one has told me the smell came back.

Carol Pratt, Eugene, OR"

Then this suggestion...

"I was staying at a hotel once, and when I complained about the smell of smoke in my room, they put an ozone generator in it and left it running for some hours while I was away. When I returned, the smell was gone. Remember, however, ozone is toxic and should not be used in an area where people will inhale it." (04/08/2004)

By Joe

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

For oder in a basement place in the open regular grill cooking CHARCOAL. I would place the books in a large plastic bag and inside with the books a generous amount of charcoal tied up in an old sheet or pillowcase (etc.) and you could add an old sock full of baking soda for musty smells. After you do this do not use the charcoal or soda for anything else. Discard. (06/14/2004)

By wright6421

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

I got the cigarette smell out of a very thick softcover textbook in a couple of days. I stood the book on its bottom edge and fanned-out the pages so it formed something like 3/4 of a cylinder shape. The book was placed like this on the floor with a piece of cardboard under it. (Some books, especially thinner ones, might not stand up like that, but you could easily clip the covers to an improvised support.) Then I took a fan of the type that normally stands on the floor on a high pedestal, and placed it horizontally over a chair so that it blew straight down onto the book. The pages soon fanned out evenly, and the air rushing between all the pages got out most of the smell in the first day. (07/11/2004)

By Tom

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

Use bounce dryer sheets to remove odors from fragile items such as books, etc. (07/12/2004)


Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

I got a smoky smelling book and just used fantastic lightly sprayed on paper towels then cleaned along all the edges, thoroughly on the covers and on the inside of the covers. This helped a lot, but there is still a slight smell if you stick your nose to the inside binding. (10/05/2004)

By Morgan

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

The best thing I have found to remove odors from old books is cedar chips. You can buy these from your local feed or pet store. Place the book in a large zip-loc back together with a couple handfuls of the cedar chips. Place the bag somewhere dry and cool for a few days. It's done the trick for me many times and removes the smell of cigarettes, mold and mildew. And the cedar smells really good, too. (07/25/2005)

By Lin

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

Those are good ideas for books. Anybody have some good ideas of how to get cigarette smoke smell out of a sofa? My mother gave me her sofa for my new apartment but she is a chain smoker and the sofa smells like it's spent a year in the back of an old bar.


By Genny

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

Well, what I did was hang the book on the clothesline :) Yep.. take a couple front and back pages and clip them on the line with the squeeze type clothes pins.. being a non smoker I was highly upset when cigarette smelling books were were returned to me after loaning them out. Hang them in the shade then switch to different parts of the book to let the pages air in between. It worked for me.. and taught me a lesson, not to loan my books to people that I know smoke.. I just didn't think of it at the time.
(not intended to offend smokers)

P.S. I let them hang a few days in the day time only. (03/07/2006)

By Ariela

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

How about solid items like plastic, can the smell be removed using the same technique? Or is it something different? (03/10/2006)

By Person

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

Put the books in a closed bookshelf (Barrister type) and put some incense sticks in with the books (not touching them, of course). It works like the cedar chips mentioned earlier. (04/18/2006)

By jeff

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

I used Potpourri in a bag, I tried baking soda in a bag, neither worked.

Then I read this thread and used someones suggestion of a dryer sheet. I took one and rubbed it over the front cover, the back cover and each page. It has worked the best so far. The smell is almost gone.

One more sheet over each page should be the end of that gross smell.

And this is a Wedding Memory book I bought online. Not a good smell to have on it. :( (04/28/2006)

By Taliaris

How do I remove cigarette smoke smell from old photographs?


By Leigh

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

The same thing happened to me. I started by wiping the pages with a dryer sheet and then leaving the dryer sheet in the book. This just layered a pleasant odor over the smoke odor, but it was still there. I finally got rid of the smell completely with newspaper. I put a sheet of newspaper one every page of the book and let it sit for two days. The smell is completely gone. (03/26/2007)

By Rivka

Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

Use the dryer sheets. I put a dryer sheet in my book and put it back on the shelf for 4 weeks and now the smoke smell is gone and the books smells dryer fresh. This will also remove the moldy smell on books too. For thick books put two or more sheets in the book. (08/25/2007)


Getting Cigarette Smell out of Books

I wanted to give my mother's smoky books about her country of origin to my niece who has asthma. I used the dryer sheet method and it worked well without giving me asthma for my efforts. (11/12/2007)


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