Monday, October 24, 2016

How to get cigarette smell out of paintings

Oh, hi!

Some time back I told you about my plan to change our drab bedroom. Well, I'm not done yet, but getting there.

One thing I wanted to add was some art, but I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted. A nice print of something I loved? Something original and cool? Or something vintage and cool? I felt pretty open about it, but I didn't want to spend much money, and I wanted it to suit the space.

After browsing eBay for weeks, I settled on two vintage/weird paintings of dancers.

I love the naive style, and the deep colors, and the gold frames, and they felt like they both suited our own vintage style. Ad for $32, they were certainly the right price!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know what happened: when they arrived they STANK like cigarettes. Like, stank beyond anything I have ever experienced. As soon as I opened the box, the smell hit me like a truck. It was disgusting. Worse than disgusting. Those of you who know me know that I have certainly enjoyed a cigarette or two (or 2,000) in my day (though happy to say haven't had a puff in 4 years) - but these smelled as though they had been locked in an airless room for 40 years with a 3-pack-a-day smoker.

The seller said they had come from and estate sale in Kentucky, and said "pet and smoke status unknown". I believe, however, that if the seller has a nose that probably the smoke status was known, but I digress.

For $32 I could have given up, thrown them out and moved on. But still, I liked these. I wanted to keep them, so I gave it a shot.

Here's how I cleaned them.

First, I used some gentle dish soap and warm water to clean the layers of nicotine off. Again, because they were only $32, I was willing to damage them - but from what I read on the internet, soap and water are ok to use gently on paintings (though if you're looking to clean your Renoirs and Picassos - take it to a pro).

The soap did a decent job on the nicotine stains, but the stank persisted. So, I took a lavender sachet and put the painting in an air-tight garbage bag for a week. This didn't work - it didn't absorb the smell, it only added lavender to the cigarette stank.

So, I did some more research into what ABSORBS smells, and settled on drying dryer sheets. So, I put the two paintings back in the air-tight garbage bag with a few sheets of Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Dryer Sheets - Lemon Verbena scent for about a week to ten days. And guess what! It worked! They absorbed the bad smell, and added a lighter, more tolerable smell.

And now those two pics happily hang in our bedroom, and still smell like Lemon Verbena dryer sheets.

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