Rehab Success! I Finally Got the Cigarette Smoke Smell Out of 2 Leather Bags!

katev

"The Bag Whisperer!"
O.G.
Dec 18, 2009
15,491
10,875
Last year I purchased 2 older style bags that smelled strongly of cigarette smoke, a Navy Willis bag and an Ivy Laurel bag.

I should have known better because I had often read about problems getting rid of the smoke smell; but I figured that if I worked on them and applied the suggestions of my fellow-rehabbers; I should be able to eliminate the smell, right?

After all, I had previously rehabbed some very old and musty (and even mildewed!) bags. If I could eliminate those stinky smells how hard would it be to remove the odor of tobacco smoke?!

Wrong! It was a lot harder than I thought - but I have finally been successful. My 2 stinky bags now smell lovely with no cigarette smoke smell at all!

Here are pics of the 2 problem bags along with a red backback that I also recently picked up. The backpack didn't have any bad smells. It just needed to be cleaned up a little.

All 3 bags were in pretty good shape to start with, so there is no need to praise my rehab skills. I will post before and after pics next and tell you how I got rid of the stinky smells!

Left to right in the first photo: Navy Willis 9927, Ivy Laurel 4112, and Red Legacy West Backpack 9827
 

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katev

"The Bag Whisperer!"
O.G.
Dec 18, 2009
15,491
10,875
The first bag that I tackled was the Navy Willis 9927 (Costa Rica, 2001). I bought it at the Savers Thrift Store for $35 (too much!)

I tried airing it outside, washing it in the sink and also running it through the washer, sealing it up with baking soda, and then sealing it with a few small charcoal water filters but nothing helped. It got much cleaner but still smelled bad!

I even bought a spray can of an air freshener called "new leather" and it was awful. It left a nasty chemical smell on top of the cigarette smell! I had to rewash the bag just to get rid the fragrance, and it still smelled like smoke!

I was about to give up but then one day I stopped at the pet store to buy supplies for my bunny and I saw that they had large charcoal aquarium filters on sale (charcoal pellets in large mesh bags) so I bought several of them pretty cheaply.

I put a charcoal filter inside of the navy willis and then put it and another filter into a plastic bag and sealed everything up tightly. Then I stuck it all inside a second plastic bag and sealed that one too, just for good measure!

I hadn't started working on the ivy green laurel bag yet, but I decided to also give it the charcoal filter treatment at the same time. So I sealed the laurel up too and then I left them alone for 3 months!

I didn't intend to let them sit that long (and I don't know if you really need to give it that much time) but I've been really busy lately and I just didn't have time to work on my rehab projects - so they just sat around, untouched and all sealed up.

When I finally broke them open a couple of weeks ago I was disappointed because I could still smell the darn smoke, but I let them air out for a few days and noticed that the smell wasn't as strong.

Then I washed them in the sink with Ivory soap and warm water, stuffed them with towels and let them dry and magically the smell disappeared!

I have a sensitive sense of smell and I wasn't getting any hint of smoke smell after they dried! But I was afraid that it was just wishful thinking on my part so I asked for my husband's opinion. I didn't tell him that they had smelled like tobacco, I just told him that they "had some odors that I was trying to eliminate". He smelled them both and said "I don't notice anything wrong, they smell good!" Eureka!

Here are pics of my problem child navy willis. The first 3 pictures are before and the last 2 images are final after pics! She was a lot of work but I am finally happy with both her appearance and her scent! The willis is such a beautiful, classic bag!
 

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katev

"The Bag Whisperer!"
O.G.
Dec 18, 2009
15,491
10,875
Here is the Ivy Laurel 4112 (USA, circa 1991) I saw it at a local garage sale for $40 but I passed because I could smell tobacco; but I just kept thinking about that bag because it was so pretty!

A few weeks later I drove past the same house and they were having another garage sale so I decided to check it out. The Laurel was still there so I made an offer of $20. We negotiated for awhile and finally agreed on $30.

Before I attempted to rehab it I sealed it up with 2 large charcoal filters for 3 months, then I gave it a bath in the sink, stuffed it with towels, let it dry, conditioned it with leather cpr, and polished the hardware. She came out looking beautiful and smelling just lovely!

The first 3 pics are before and the last 2 are after.
 

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whateve

Authenticator
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May 10, 2010
59,762
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I'll have to give that a try! I have used bath salts somewhat successfully. I have a couple of accessories that smell like aftershave. Surprisingly, it has been harder to get rid of that entirely than smoke.

I just bought a spray from Big Lots called Zero Odor. I haven't tried it on a purse yet because I don't know whether it will spot the leather, but I sprayed my cat's litter box and it worked really well. My cat went over to investigate and started rubbing his head on the litter box. I think he was trying to replace the smell.
 

katev

"The Bag Whisperer!"
O.G.
Dec 18, 2009
15,491
10,875
Here is the red Legacy West Backpack 9827 (China, 2003). I wasn't really looking for a backpack but this one was so pretty and in nice shape and it was so cheap! I paid only $7 with a coupon at Savers.

It didn't have any bad smells. I just gave it a sink bath with Ivory, stuffed it with towels to dry, conditioned with leather cpr, then polished the hardware with wenol. Nothing to it!

Again the first 3 pics are before and the last 2 photos are after rehab.

It is a nice large size because many older Coach backpacks are rather small.
 

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katev

"The Bag Whisperer!"
O.G.
Dec 18, 2009
15,491
10,875
I'll have to give that a try! I have used bath salts somewhat successfully. I have a couple of accessories that smell like aftershave. Surprisingly, it has been harder to get rid of that entirely than smoke.

I just bought a spray from Big Lots called Zero Odor. I haven't tried it on a purse yet because I don't know whether it will spot the leather, but I sprayed my cat's litter box and it worked really well. My cat went over to investigate and started rubbing his head on the litter box. I think he was trying to replace the smell.
The poor kitty had it smelling just perfect and then you messed it all up and removed the "special scent!"

Let me know how that Zero Odor stuff works, 3 months is a long time to wait for charcoal filters to do the job!
 
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katev

"The Bag Whisperer!"
O.G.
Dec 18, 2009
15,491
10,875
beautiful
Thanks!

And I want to say a big thank you to Hyacinth and DemRam (and all of our wonderful authenticators) because they told me that these bags were genuine. I would never have done all this work if I felt that they might be fakes!

And also thanks to my rehabbing buddies that suggested methods for eliminating cigarette smoke smells. I could hardly believe it when the charcoal filters actually did the job!

:tpfrox:
 

AggieK

Member
Aug 24, 2012
641
489
Congrats... I've never bought a smoky purse, but once I bought a smoky leather jacket and dry cleaning it ($$$$$) got rid of the smell. I really hate the smell of cigarettes. Once I had a book out of the library that was really smoky and I had to return it without reading it, it was so bad.
 

katev

"The Bag Whisperer!"
O.G.
Dec 18, 2009
15,491
10,875
Congrats... I've never bought a smoky purse, but once I bought a smoky leather jacket and dry cleaning it ($$$$$) got rid of the smell. I really hate the smell of cigarettes. Once I had a book out of the library that was really smoky and I had to return it without reading it, it was so bad.
I hate the smell of smoke too! I will definitely think twice before buying another smoky bag! :throwup: