Stinky Space Chair

Remember us? The astronomy and science lovers’ blog? We are back with the issue of the day. This time it is a practical matter that we want to discuss that relates to college life. I found a great secondhand armchair for my dorm and I chose it because of the fabric. It looks like the item once belonged in the cockpit of a space shuttle—maybe an old-fashioned one! How cool, I thought, and grabbed it for a song. I toted it back to the dorm, with some help from a pickup truck, and immediately noticed a terrible smell. Now that is a problem you might have encountered. So what do you do in this situation? You don’t want to take such a nifty item back; you bought it for a good reason.

I quickly asked Patrick for help to see if we could deodorize it and lighten the intensity of the odor. We put our heads together and had to do a bit of research. We would approach the problem with a scientific perspective. First, we read up on No More Smoke Smell about the chemical components of cigarette smoke to find out why they linger and do not dissipate over time. It seems that certain molecules cling to fabric. We thought we could just air out the chair in the yard for a couple of days. It didn’t do much. The smoke was there to stay. The covering was in good condition and it didn’t seem right to reupholster it given that we liked the look. We continued our efforts as good scientists do.

We bought some sprays from various manufacturers that guarantee success with cooking and pet odors—so why not smoke. It didn’t work that well and left a perfumy residue instead. I called the fire department—the smoke experts. They suggested we use eucalyptus essential oil in a mixture to dilute it. We placed it in an empty plastic spray bottle we use for water when we are ironing (which isn’t often). It was happy to be of use.

Wow. It worked quite well. The smoke was better but then we were left with a chair that smelled like a tree in heat. We aired it out once again in the yard and waited for more than a week. We were getting close. It had a pleasant scent now, and no more. It was in acceptable condition to move into the dorm. People thought they smelled a sachet of some type when entering the room. How bad is that? Many people light candles or use plug-ins to deodorize a room. Now we had a permanent version.

I don’t think our ability to dissipate smoke will go down in the annals of great science, but we were happy with the end results. We got to keep the cool chair, which garnered a lot of attention, and we were proud of our team effort. We found a home remedy, however, that is worthy of at least a blog.