How to Remove Cigarette Smoke Smell From a Book

Used books or books returned to you after you've loaned them out may hold an unpleasant surprise inside -- stale cigarette odors. If the books remain closed and untouched for a long time, the odor may last for months or longer, even in your smoke-free home. Instead of discarding or giving away the books, remove the smoky smells by treating them with dry odor-absorbing materials and exposure to plenty of fresh air.

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Carry the smoky-smelling books outdoors during dry, non-humid weather, ideally on a warm day. Stand hardcover books upright, pages fanned open, to expose as many of the pages as possible to fresh air. Open paperback books on a clean, flat surface, placing small weights such as rocks along the insides of both covers. This keeps the book open, exposing the inside pages to airflow. Allow the books to sit for at least several hours before taking them indoors.

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Sniff the affected books. If they still smell of smoke, stand them upright in a plastic crate or plastic basket that's taller than the books. Use small rocks or weights as spacers to hold the books open in several places as needed, especially for paperback books.

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Remove the lid of a plastic tub large enough to enclose the plastic crate or basket that contains the books. Fill the bottom at least 1/4 inch deep with fresh baking soda, activated charcoal or an unscented clay-based kitty litter. Set the tub outdoors on a non-humid day or in an area where it's exposed to at least some daylight.

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Set the crate or basket containing the books inside the plastic tub. Wad up several sheets of newspaper or plain newsprint, and place them within either the outer tub or inner crate, wherever there's room. The paper helps absorb odors.

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Place the lid on the tub and seal it. Allow the books to stay in the odor-absorbing chamber for several days or longer, as needed, to remove the cigarette smell. Open the tub every day or two to smell the books and to make sure there's no condensation inside the bin. Sniff the wads of paper, replacing them if they smell of smoke. Replace the baking soda or other odor-absorbing material if it smells of smoke. It may take a few weeks to completely remove the odor.