Could she save her sofa set?

My Story: Getting Rid of Smokey Odors

contributed by Susan M.

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I learned about this when I bought a fantastic used but well-made sofa set with slipcovers and was dismayed when I got home to find there was cigarette smoke damage. (The furniture was in a garage with the doors open. Beware buying furniture in misty weather; it masks odors!) I am extremely allergic to smoke and soon could not enter the room or eventually the upstairs of my house because of the odor. We found two solutions. I'll cover both so readers can judge for their needs.

We researched and ran across online. This product is seemingly expensive, but well worth it and extremely useful if you are fighting smoke or mold.

Seal the room. Little packets of powder are immersed in water and left for 24 hours. They produce chlorine dioxide gas, which kills all organics it contacts. (Be sure to follow directions for safety! You do not want to breathe this! Even a whiff to see if it is working will burn your nose.)

We laundered the slipcovers separately, of course, and arranged all the pillows and insides of the sofas we could get to on props so the gas could reach most sides. The fogger took care of most of the odor. It did not reach totally down inside the sleeper sofa, which the manufacturer forewarned us might be the case. (It can't work if it can't reach the source.) When I sat on the sofa, it would push out a little smoke from deep down inside, and my throat would tighten up.

Here's a second solution. Maybe if we'd done it first, we wouldn't have needed the first solution, but I'm not sorry to have discovered such an effective product.

We finally invested in an ozone generator. It was a once in a lifetime investment of about $100 that has paid for itself many times over. You may be able to borrow or rent one. Ours is a two-foot-long metal box with a little fan in one end.

My husband put the ozone generator behind the sofa on an appliance timer and ran it at night for a few hours when no one was in the room. The air conditioner was scheduled to come on in the morning, clearing out the ozone in the air. (You don't want to be breathing a lot of ozone either. Be sure to air the room out.)

Over a period of a few weeks, the ozone generator totally removed all smoke odors from the sofa set. Since that time, I've used the ozone generator many times to fight strong odors in the house, cars, and garage. I've also taken it on vacations, knowing we were staying in rental properties that might turn out to be a problem with cleaning chemicals or smoke. We leave it running while we go out to eat or to the beach. When we come back, we air out the room.

As I said, I suppose we might have avoided the step with the chlorine dioxide gas foggers and just have bought the ozone generator at the start, but with this sofa set, it would have been a slower solution.

I love my new sofa set, and it was a bargain even with these additional costs!

"My Story" is a regular feature of The Dollar Stretcher. If you have a story that could help save time or money, please send it by

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