All you need to know about cleaning a smokers house

Updated on:

January 23, 2023

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How to eliminate smoke smell from house

Removing cigarette smoke requires a lot of patience since the acidic smoke leave resins and tars that stick to everything inside a home. Years of smoking indoors can lead to smoke smell permeating your drywall. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways you can get rid of those nasty odors.

Depending on the severity of the cigarette smoke odor, there are different things you can do to remove it. In this article, we will list different methods you can try to help your cigarette odor problem. You might be able to remove the smell with just one method, or use a combination of tips in order to remove the smell permanently.

Table of Contents

Why can smoke odor be harmful?

Cigarette smoke odor is not only annoying and a nasty smell, but it can also be very harmful for your health. Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 different substance that are a health risk to you. A lot of research pointed out that some toxic chemicals, like nicotine residue, are still present in the thirdhand smoke which sticks to upholstery, fabrics, and other surfaces in your house.

Thirdhand smoke can be especially harmful to little kids because they are more likely to put contaminated items in their mouth. Smoke smell removal will not only free your house from a disgusting cigarette smell, but also free you of danger of potentially getting sick from it.

ashtray and cigarettes causes smell

How to tell if you have cigarette smoke damage

It can be difficult to tell if you have purchased a home from someone who smoked indoors. All it takes to mask the smoke smell is some air freshener. This is why it is important to know how to detect smoke damage through different signs.

  • A smoke smell coming from upholstered furniture and fabric surfaces.
  • Yellow or brown staining on fabric and soft surfaces like lamps, wallpaper, and window coverings.
  • Yellowing along the floors, walls and ceilings
  • Yellow or brown staining around door frames
  • Burn marks on soft surfaces
  • Cigarette butts on the balcony, porch, or backyard
  • Ash residue

How to completely eliminate smoke residue and smoke odors from home

Completely eliminating smoke odor can be a difficult and very time consuming task. But the result of it is highly beneficial to you.

This guide contains many different methods you can apply to help with smoke smells, but using them all together will give you the best results.

1. Air circulation

Tobacco smoke is nothing but a collection of airborne particles that can be dissipated by the use of air. Cigarette smoke has a very strong smell to it due to its high concentration level. To decrease the concentration, you need to increase the distance between the smoke particles by by letting in fresh air.

Open up all the windows and the front door. You can also use fans and turn on ceiling fans to pull out the indoor smoky air even more.

In addition to improving the overall air quality of your home, this will also ventilate your home from all the strong smelled cleaning supplies that will be used for odor removal.

2. Let some light in

UV rays from the sun help to neutralize odor molecules. If your decor or furniture have smoke smell, take it outside and let it stay in the sun for a few hours.

Strong sunlight can cause fading of fabrics, so do not put any valuable and antique items outside for too long.

3. Use baking soda

Baking soda is useful for many home cleaning tasks. One of the most powerful ways to get rid of cigarette smoke odor is with baking soda.

Sprinkle baking soda in a thin layer on fabric surfaces like carpet, sofa, rug, soft armchair, etc. For best results, let it sit overnight, but if you can't do that, let it do its magic for at least two hours. After sufficient time has passed, use the upholstery attachment on your vacuum and suck up all the baking soda.

You can also use baking soda as an odor eliminator for smaller items like books. Just fill a plastic trash bag with half a cup of baking soda and tie the bag shut with all the contaminated items. Let it sit for a couple of hours before removing the items from the bag.

4. White vinegar rinse

This household item is another very useful solution for many cleaning activities. The acidity of white vinegar neutralizes the high pH of smoke molecules. This is why it I a great odor eliminator.

To make a cleaning solution, mix one part white vinegar with three parts warm water in a spray bottle. Use your prepared cleaner on hard surfaces like countertops, floors, and walls.

5. Ammonia solution

If the vinegar method did not give you the desired results, you can try using ammonia.

Mix one tablespoon of ammonia with one cup of water. Get a soft brush or sponge and scrub your hard surfaces with it.

6. Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is a great agent to use to absorb odors. The carbon of activated charcoal traps odor causing molecules in the air, similar to what baking soda does.

To get rid of cigarette odor, hang bags of activated charcoal all other your home. You can also place bags of charcoal on smoky surfaces to help with the odor.

If you have loose charcoal, you can set out bowls of activated charcoal throughout your whole house to let it absorb odors.

changing hvac filters

7. Change the HVAC air filters

A clogged air filter blows smoke odors around the house and reduce the air flow. This leads to a build up inside your air ducts. When you replace HVAC air filters you will immediately see the difference of the air quality of your home.

It is suggested changing your HVAC system air filters every three months, but it should be more often if you are a smoker. In addition, switching to a HEPA filter can highly benefit you in the long run, but not every unit is compatible with it.

Check this guide of air conditioneer cleaning at home

ozone machine for smoke smell removal

8. Use ozone generator

Ozone generators are perfect to use for purifying the air by oxidizing it. This nifty machine is a great device to use to clear out cigarette smell.

You can either rent an ozone generator or hire a professional who knows how to use it. An ozone treatment creates activated oxygen particles which hit the odor molecules ands instantly oxidizes them. During this reaction, the smoke molecules are trapped and eliminated super efficiently.

9. Use odor eliminator

There are a lot of different options on the market and some work better the others. But all of them are unable to get rid of odors completely. The tiny microscopic particles of odor persists and clings to the walls and other surfaces and those odor eliminators can help to trap those particles.

When choosing an odor eliminator, get one with an ingredient called cyclodextrin. The smoke particles bind to this chemical that pulls the smell from the air making it easier to wash the affected area with other products that will permanently get rid of smells.

washine machine

10. Use washing machine to clean all clothes, drapes and covers

Cigarette smoke does not only stick to hard surfaces and upholstery, but also to literally any other soft products. Clothes clings to and absorbs odors very easily so deep cleaning it is crucial.

Use half a cup of white vinegar in the wash cycle to eliminate the odor. You also add a splash of apple cider vinegar and it will also help with odor removal.

You should also consider washing other fabrics that cigarette smoke clings to. These include:

  • Curtains
  • Drapes
  • Rugs
  • Pillows and pillow covers
  • Towels
  • Linens and bedsheets
  • Blankets and throws

After all the materials are clean, air dry them outside while you are cleaning other parts of the house.

11. Places that get neglected

Cigarette smoke tends to stick to places that you least expect. To completely get rid of all cigarette smell, you need to clean every nook and crevice of your home.

You can use a store bought cleaner that eliminates odors or use one of the tips we provided above.

These areas and things that are crucial to clean are:

  • Light bulbs
  • Light fixtures
  • Window coverings
  • Shelving
  • All filters like furnace filters and AC filters
repainting walls for smoke smell removal

12. Replace and repaint

If the cigarette odor has been build up in your home for years, sometimes it is best to replace the affected items. Some of the things that might require replacing are couches, carpeting, and other smoke-filled furniture.

Nicotine also tend to stain walls very badly. If after you cleaned the walls you have any stains remaining, just put a fresh coat of paint in order to cover it.

You will need to use a primer and an odor sealant in order to get the best results.

Check our full cleaning guide for post construction

portable home steam cleaner

Using steam cleaner for smoke smell removing

One of the easiest and most efficient ways to get rid of smoke odor is to steam clean. Steam cleaners do not require you to use any harsh chemicals in order to conduct a deep clean of your home. This machine is very versatile and safe to use on all kinds of materials, even upholstered furniture.

One of the best steam cleaner on the market is the Fortador Volt Mini. It is a portable device that is easy to use for all cleaning tasks. It comes with many attachments that can be implemented to make cleaning different areas of your house much easier.

The combination of high temperature and high heat penetrates through any material and cleans it from the inside and out. Many products only do surface cleaning without actually getting rid of the whole problem from the root.

furniture steam cleaning

The steam of Volt Mini is so powerful that it can not only kill any odors in your furniture, but also get rid of stains and other stubborn dirt from almost any material.

Tips for smell reducing from smoking

Preventing the damage is the best way to save your time from the hassle of trying to fix the problem. Here are some tips that will eliminate your smell problems.

1. Buy an air purifier

Air purifier makes sure to remove all cigarette smoke before it starts to settle inside your home. Tobacco particles are as small as 0.1 microns, so you need to get a high quality purifier that can filter to those particles. An air purifier will improve the overall air circulation and quality that will benefit you in many ways.

2. Air fresheners

Even though air fresheners don't completely kill the smell of tobacco, they still help with the odor issue. Search for refreshers that contain a chemical compound called cyclodextrin, which a chemical that absorbs odors. Febreeze contains that chemical and will help you to reduce the smoke odor.

Burning scented candles can also help reducing the smoke odor. Place them all over your house and occasionally burn them for a nice aroma.

smoke outside your house

3. Smoke outside

If you are smoker and can't quit, at least smoke outside. Make sure when you do so, all windows and opening to your house are closed to not let any of that smoke in.

This is a very obvious suggestion but people tend to neglect the importance of closing your windows while you smoke.

Also learn more about smoke removal out of car cabin

Kristina Tretyakova
Izabela Forysiak

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