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Piano, Organ, and Keyboard/Removing Cigarette Smell From Piano


QUESTION: Hello Ralph,

A family member just gave me a Kimball console piano. I am thrilled to get it, however, it has a very bad cigarette smoke odor. What is the best way to remove the smoke odor from the piano without damaging the piano?


ANSWER: HI Ingrid:

There are companies out there that do this for a living like ServePro.

You can try it yourself:

Cyclodextrin, a chemical made of a sugar-like substance, is effective at absorbing odor. The chemical compound is an odor remover found in the odor-reducing spray called Febreeze. Remove the smell by spraying down the area with Febreeze to reduce the smell of smoke.

Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal, which is also known as activated carbon, works well as a deodorizer and an odor neutralizer. Molecules are left behind from smoke which leads to a lingering smoke odor. Smoke contains different a carbon compound that bonds with smoke particles and accumulates on surfaces. According to Absolute Fire and Floods, activated charcoal is a natural odor absorbent and will absorb the smoke odor. Use a water purifier that contains activated carbon to get rid of the smoke odor.

Trisodium phosphate, also known as TSP, is a strong cleaning agent for removing smoke odor. To remove the smoke smell, you will need to put 1 tbsp. of TSP in 1 gallon of water. Use the TSP solution to wipe down items saturated with smoke. The solution will remove the smoke odor from the sofa and improve the smell.

Ammonia works well to deodorize and clean a room with a smoke stench. The nicotine and tar from cigarettes will stick to furniture, walls and cabinets. Cleaning the room with ammonia will cut through the nicotine and tar. Mix 1 gallon of warm water with 1 cup of ammonia. Soak a cleaning cloth with the solution. Wash the object from top to bottom using the cleaning cloth. If ammonia comes in contact with the eyes, it will burn, so wear goggles.

You can also try:

I am not a big fan of chemicals. Every read "Death by Rubber Ducky and other chemicals"?

So...if you're going to try this yourself...PLEASE take all precautions!

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------


Thanks for your quick response and detailed answer. Won't I damage the piano if I use chemicals on it? For example, if I open the lid and spray Febreeze on the hammers and strings won't that hurt them? I thought even touching the soundboard, strings, etc. with fingers was discouraged because of skin oils. I am a novice piano owner, though, so maybe I am really misinformed. It is a beautiful piano with a lovely finish and is in excellent working condition.


Hi Ingrid...

The soundboard is wood...not problem really. And in most cases they are coated in Lacquer or varnish.

The strings are really no problem either...what you put on...make sure to take off.

So spray fabreze on a cloth, wipe the strings and then go over them with a dry cloth.

I would not spray anything on the hammers. You won't actually ruin them...but the moisture will  change them. Let that area go.

Most of what you smell is in the unfinished wood parts.

So I would concentrate on the key tops inside the piano.

I would suggest thought a desiccant; something that would pull moisture out of the piano...they can be found in tubs in Marine stores.

Finally, I would suggest a humidity control system for the piano. Go to your technician if they are Registered, if not...go find a registered technician who is versed in these systems.

You can look for a technician at you put in your zip code and techs in your area will come up.

Then go to There you can find technicians who are certified in the installation of these systems. You can see whom is registered as a technician and a certified system installer.

Keep me in the loop!

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Ralph Onesti


I am a Registered/tested member of the Piano Technicians Guild (RPT) with 49 years of experience in all phases and levels of the acoustic piano. I will answer any questions regarding acoustic pianos only. All questions and answers are to remain public. Please to not include sensitive material! If they are marked private, I will change them to public. My answers may be of assistance to others. If privacy is an issue, please contact me through my web site: Electronic keyboards, organs, and player/reproducing piano mechanisms are outside of my expertise. Anything to do with: Construction, Service, Tuning, Climate Control Systems, Piano Disc, Purchasing, Selling, Insurance Appraisal, Rebuilding, Repairs, Legal issues, Maintenance, Environmental issues, Finish issues with acoustic pianos. My full resume can be found at: You can like us on Facebook at:


In business since 1964, Extensive Rebuilding/Repair/Service facility. A certified, tested, member of the Piano Technicians Guild, Member of the Technical Advisory Service to Attorneys. Have performed piano service on Concert Stage, Recording Studios, and in the home. Http:// The shop's work comes from all over the world from private clients or other techncians.

The Piano Technicians Guild, Master Piano Technicians of America, Technical Advisory Service to Attorneys. (TASA), IAPBT. The Piano Technicians Guild is the only organization in the US that offers a certification test to become Registered. There are no "factory authorized techncians".

The Piano Technicians Journal

Attented Temple University, Drexel University, Philadelphia Community college all in the areas of engineering and Music. I taught a two semester course in Piano Technology and the related acoustical physics at Temple University. I have taught extensively for the Piano Technicians Guild and the Master Piano Technicians of America.

Awards and Honors
Service Award for the Rose Tree Media School District in Pennsylvania. Chapter Award from the Philadelphia Chapter of the Piano Technicians Guild.

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The list is rather extensive. I would suggest you go where there is a comprehensive list of clients past and present.

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