How To Remove Smoke Smell From Vinyl Albums

Cigarette smoke is unfortunately one of those smells that likes to linger with a vengeance. So it’s not uncommon to come into contact with an old set of smelly albums, especially if you are a collector. This is why it’s crucial to know how to remove the cigarette smoke from your vinyls. 

Here are seven steps to remove the smoke smell from your vinyl albums:

  1. Gently clean albums with a baby wipe. 
  2. Let the albums air out. 
  3. Use a bamboo purifying bag. 
  4. Remove the vinyl records from the jackets. 
  5. Place the album covers in a crate with good airflow.
  6. Lay down a large fan and set the crate on top.
  7. Turn on the fan and leave it for 24 hours.

In the rest of this article, I will discuss the best steps to remove the smoke smell from your albums and a few other methods you can try if the pesky smoke persists. So if you would like to learn more about eliminating smoke from your vinyl, be sure to stick around. 

1. Gently Clean Albums With a Baby Wipe

First, you will need to clean your albums. Smoke tends to build up on the outside of objects and permeates anything porous. This is why you should start by wiping them down. If you opt to also clean your vinyl records, I recommend doing so carefully as they can be scratched or ruined easily.

Be sure to be gentle when wiping down the album covers (this will be where the majority of the smoke smell is trapped). You should notice that the wipe is coming away with a brown tinge. So long as you aren’t damaging your covers, you can continue to clean until the wipes come away clean. 

However, if you notice your covers becoming damp, stop immediately and allow them to dry, as further wiping will result in damaged album covers. 

2. Let the Albums Air Out

Once you have finished wiping off the smoke residue, it’s time to let the albums air out and dry. Damp records can quickly develop mold and amplify any unpleasant smells, so be sure to let them dry before tucking them away. Also, remember not to let them dry in hot or sunny places, as this can damage your vinyl albums. 

3. Use a Bamboo Purifying Bag

Next, using a bamboo purifying bag can help eliminate some of the smoke odor. I am sure you are already aware that smoke is a tough smell to remove from any object. So it’s essential to understand that the smell might never be eradicated. 

However, using bamboo and charcoal bags can help absorb some of the pungent scent. I recommend Basic Concepts Bamboo And Charcoal Air Purifying Bags (available on Amazon.com). These bags are great because they are specially formulated to remove bad scents and have a lifespan of up to two years. 

To use these bags to remove smoke from your vinyl records/jackets, I recommend placing them with your albums in a storage container with a good lid. Then, seal the container and allow the bags to absorb the foul odor for a few days or months, depending on how much of a smoke smell they have. 

4. Remove the Vinyl Records From the Jackets

After you feel your albums have sat with the bamboo purifying bags long enough, it’s time to remove the jacket covers. As I previously stated, the covers will harbor most of the smoke smell since paper products are more porous. This means that scents will get trapped more easily in their surface. 

5. Place Album Covers in a Crate With Good Airflow

Next, you should place your album covers in a crate. Make sure the crate has holes so that air can get underneath the album covers. You should also ensure that none of the albums are touching. By placing objects between each album cover to act as a spacer, you can accomplish this. 

Also, remember not to lay the albums flat inside the crate. Arrange them vertically. This will ensure that the inside of the covers can be appropriately aired out. 

6. Lay Down a Large Fan and Set the Crate on Top

You will then want to acquire a large fan. A small one could work, too; you will just have to work in smaller batches and possibly run the fun for longer. Next, you should lay the fan down and place the crate of spaced album covers on top of its surface. Make sure your fan isn’t lying on a long carpet, and it’s somewhere that it won’t catch on things and start a fire. 

7. Turn On the Fan and Leave It for 24 Hours

Lastly, turn on the fan and leave it to circulate fresh air into your album covers. This should take anywhere from 12-24 hours, depending on the severity of the smoke smell. If 24 hours have passed but there is still the smell of smoke, add some more time. This method is generally the best way to eradicate the pesky smell of smoke. 

However, if you are still noticing the slight scent of cigarette smoke, a few other methods can help remove the odor. 

If you are more of a visual learner, I recommend watching Spatula City Records video on using the fan method to remove cigarette smoke from album covers. He does a great job of explaining the process quickly and efficiently. 

Other Cleaning Methods That Can Help You Remove Smoke

As I said, there are several ways you can go about removing difficult smoke from vinyl albums. So let’s go over a few of the other common methods for doing this.

Other methods for removing smoke smell from vinyl albums:

  • Baking Soda: Place a bowl of baking soda in a sealed container with the albums, and it’s supposed to help draw out some of the bad smell. 
  • Cat litter: This product is specially formulated to remove stinky odors from its surroundings, and it can be used by placing some in a sealed container with your albums for a short time to absorb some of the smoke stench. 
  • Dryer sheets: Another method is placing several drying sheets in a sealed container with your albums. These sheets can help infuse your album covers with a better smell. 
  • Coffee grounds: You can place a small bowl of coffee grounds with your vinyl albums in a sealed container to help them take on a better scent. 

So as you can see, there are a few other options for removing bad scents like cigarette smoke from your vinyl albums. 

Final Thoughts 

Ultimately, removing smoke smells from vinyl albums is extremely difficult. Removing the smell of smoke from anything is a challenge. However, there are a few methods that can help you to at least lessen the smell. The best method is to use a fan to force air circulation through the album covers.