For many many years, pretty much since I’ve had my own large enough place, I’ve been wanting a specific kind of china cabinet. Not that I have china, but I do have stuff to be stored in the dining room, so I’d use it. For almost as many years, I’ve been looking for the one and not finding it. Granted I wasn’t looking in high end retail stores, I haven’t had that kind of money to spend on a china cabinet. But still looking, and waiting.
I found it in the garage of Treasure Mart here in Ann Arbor back in November. Not only is it beautiful, close enough to the color I want, totally in the style I like, glass display on top and cabinets/drawers on bottom, but… it was labelled at $100! I nearly bought it on the spot! I was SO in awe of it. But I had to wonder why sooo cheap? I checked it out closely. I found that the back is that fake almost paper-thin stuff, not wood. The bottom middle section does not open, no matter how hard you pull. And it was only about 12″ deep (meaning it’s a display cabinet and not a china cabinet). But I brought my Christmas dishes to the store a day or two later to see if they all would fit, and all but one did. Good enough for me!
So I buy it, and pay to have it delivered. Turns out it’s also two pieces! Yay! I also learn that it’s 10% off because it’s been at the store so long they dropped the price. WOO! I’m one stoked happy lady at this point.
I prep the house. The guys come to deliver it, and I’m so happy. Then I find out why it was only $100….
The dang thing lived in a smokers house for who knows how many years (decades?)! It REEKED stale cigarette smell. So much so that within two days my most of my first floor, and even a bit upstairs, smelled of cigarettes. :( I was horribly disappointed and fairly distressed.
So I went online to see if there was anything I could do. Being it was November, and cold outside, I couldn’t open the windows of the house to air things out. I also could not move it on my own – the idea was to the garage for a long while. I found a couple sites that had doable ideas other than “send it out to be professionally cleaned” or “paint over the entire thing with a sealing glaze”.
I spent way longer than I wanted to trying to make the cabinet livable. Partially because stuff was just not working. Partially because I was fighting being sick and in pain too. Interestingly enough, the smell was much easier removed bottom of the cabinet than the top. Perhaps it just wasn’t opened as much? Or maybe all that glass let more air pass through the top. Dunno. But here’s what ended up working:
1) I gave the the insides of the cabinet a Vinegar bath. It was NASTY. With just one wipe my towel would be turned from white to Yellow-brown. Over and over. UGH. Tobacco reside, and whatever else had attached itself to the cabinet. No matter how much I cleaned it afterwards, that towel is now a tinted rag. But it was amazing how much of the smell was gone afterwards! There was still a smell, but it was no longer overpowering.
2) I put baking soda down on all the shelves. Left it for two days, vacuumed it out, then put the little diaper pail baking soda pods throughout the cabinet.
3) I used Febreze Air Effects inside and out. And in most rooms of my house.
4) I realized a couple days after the vinegar bath of the insides, that the 2 months the cabinet had spent out in the Treasure Mart garage had not removed the smell from the outside of the it. So the outsides got a vinegar bath too.
5) Another round of Febreze Air Effects inside the cabinet, and out.
6) On a “warm” day, I opened the windows of the house for about 2 hours. Once the thermostat hit 62, I closed them.
7) So the outside of the cabinet was livable, but no the top inside. I placed a bowl of vinegar in there for a day.
8) More baking soda.
9) More Febreze
10) Open the windows another day for an hour or so, until it was too cold in the house to bear.
11) Repeat 8 & 9, I don’t remember how long or how much.
Eventually I realized the smell was no longer yucky smoke, but was musky old age (which I also don’t much like). It took the arrival of a smoker for me to realized this. And thus I stopped my efforts. A day or two later, everything was peachy good! Turns out at some point my efforts were causing as much of a smell as I was removing. Or maybe it was psychosomatic. Either way, I was happy again.
I left the diaper pail pods in there anyway. ’cause I like the smell of baking soda more than musk.
Throughout it all, vinegar bath was clearly the most effective. It had the most dramatic effect, and near instantaneous results with regard to smell. There are lots of warnings online that vinegar can harm furniture and to test out on a non-visible spot first. But apparently it (and tomato juice) is one of the best smell cutters/eaters/removers there are out there.
I’m very happy with my purchase once again. And my Christmas dish collection looks wonderful in it!