Leather purses are quite popular. They are not only fashionable but also durable. But new leather can be expensive and if you are bargain hunter you will want to keep from paying the high prices. A good alternative is to get a previously owned leather purse but unfortunately the purse may have come from an owner who was a smoker. Yes, the purse might be perfect otherwise-except for that stale cigarette odor. What should you do? Is your health in danger if you keep the purse? And if you do keep it, how do you get rid of the awful smell?
According to the American Cancer Society, there is no proven research at this time that shows cigarette odor, known as “third-hand smoke”, is cancer-causing but studies are still being done in this area. Still you want to be able to get rid of the odor. You can purchase commercial cleaning solutions or take the purse to a professional leather cleaner, but before spending more money, try doing it yourself.
Before you being, remember that any time you clean a leather purse or bag your goal is to get rid of the odor, not merely cover it up so avoid using any types of perfume or spray deoderizers that will do nothing but mask the odor. Also, remember to remove the contents of your purse before trying any of these remedies.
If you clean the purse with vinegar, make sure it’s white vinegar so it does not stain your bag. Using a soft cloth, apply the vinegar to the surface and lining of the bag. You can make a vinegar solution of half vinegar, half water, but I have also used it full strength with good results. You want to wet it well, but not soak it. Allow the vinegar to dry thoroughly and repeat the application if necessary.
2) Clothes dryer sheets
This is the fastest way I have found to remove the cigarette odor. Place several dryer sheets inside the purse. I put one in each separate compartment of the purse and snap or zip the compartment closed. Put the purse in the dryer for 30 minutes. Be sure to use the “Air only” cycle (no heat) so you don’t damage the leather.
3) Kitty litter
Cat litter has many uses and since it is great for reducing litter box odors, it is also good at absorbing cigarette odors from your purse. Cat litter is manufactured from various materials, but choose one that is made of clay. Pour the litter into a small plastic bag (like a baggie) and place the open baggie inside the purse. Let it set for a day or two. A second way to use the kitty litter is pour the litter into a larger plastic garbage bag and place the purse inside the bag. Seal it and let it sit for two to three days.
4) Activated Charcoal
Charcoal is another very efficient odor-eliminator. You probably have a bag of charcoal briquettes already at home. The carbon in charcoal interacts with oxygen to create carbon atoms that chemically attracts the odor. Lay your purse flat in a large plastic bag. Place another flat piece of plastic over the bag so the charcoal doesn’t come into direct contact with the leather. Now cover the plastic with the charcoal and close the bag. Let it sit for two to three days.
5) Soda and sunshine
Another method you can try is baking soda and sunshine. Place the purse in a pillowcase and sprinkle baking soda on both sides of the purse as well as in the inside compartments. Close the pillowcase and let it set for a day or two. Then clean the baking soda off the bag with warm soap and water, using a soft cloth. Next, place the purse flat in the sunshine for two hours. Flip the purse over and let the other side of your bag receive equal exposure to the sun for another two hours.
For any of these methods, check on the progress periodically. You should notice a significant decrease in the odor as time progresses until finally the odor is gone. Repeating any of these remedies should not harm your nice leather bag.
American Cancer Society: “Secondhand smoke”