Removing Cigarette Smoke Odors From a House

The smell of cigarette smoke is strong, pervasive, and often lingers in a home. This guide is about removing cigarette smoke ordors from a house.
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December 4, 2016 Flag
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My mother in law just recently gave my husband and I her house. She was a heavy smoker and the house smells pretty badly of smoke, among other things. I really want to get rid of it and make it smell nice and I want the air to be healthier for when we have kids. Is there any advice you can give to treat the house?

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December 8, 20160 found this helpful

The long-term solution might be to call in professionals.. Too important to mickey-mouse it.

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Anonymous Flag
December 8, 20160 found this helpful

My son bought a house that had mice and the smell was awful. I bought a bag of Natural Magic Odor Eliminator that cost less than $7.00...took about 1 week but it really worked, and it can be re-used.

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December 8, 20160 found this helpful

My Hubby paint's when heavy smoke has gotten in walls they Kiltz it first than paint color you want rest use vinegar & water,...

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December 9, 20160 found this helpful

As has been stated by many - it will be very difficult, if not impossible to remove all of the tobacco smells from your "new" home, but - you can do a fairly good job - may even be able to make it safe to live in.

If you can afford to have it professionally removed then, certainly, that is the best way to go. If that is not the case, there may be some ways to remove most of the hazard.

Other respondents have given excellent advice/suggestions that should give you some ideas on how to get started.

I have worked/volunteered with Red Cross when families were forced (financially) to return to a home that had extensive smoke damage. Now this is not the same type of smoke but it is still dangerous to live in without some type of good cleaning.

The first thing we did was to open as many windows and doors as possible. Then we started with one room and determined what could be safely removed - even down to the electric covers.

Of course, any carpet had to be removed immediately.

Usually bedrooms could be striped and sealed and repainted. I am not familiar with the type of sealer and paint used.

Kitchens and bathrooms were usually the most difficult areas to remove the smoke as there are so many "built ins" that just cannot always be removed/replaced.

The cleaner that we used was 50% water with 50% ammonia.

Try to use a sturdy pail with a handle that will not tip over. Dirty water should be carefully discarded in an open area away from the house.

Do not add anything else to the cleaning solution.

Now ammonia can be dangerous and should not be without proper care/instructions.

This can be dangerous and should only be used by responsible adults - but - it works well and does not seem to damage cabinets or appliances but should be tested in small areas before full application.

1. Windows/doors HAVE to be open for ventilation.

2. gloves have to worn at all times.

3. face mask should also be worn as you are dealing with a chemical that you do not want to breath.

4. have several/many cleaning "rags" available as they will get filthy in a short period of time and you may not wish to spend time and energy trying to wash this slime/filth just to reuse the rag/cloth.

5. we did not "rinse" the solution off the cabinets (optional) but we did wipe more down than one time with the cleaning solution to make sure we had removed all of the smoke.

This may seem an elaborate solution but it did work and the Ammonia/water solution could also be put in a spray bottle and sprayed into corners where we were unable to reach.

As stated before - this can be dangerous if all stated safety rules are not followed to the letter.

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April 4, 2012 Flag
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I use to smoke in my house and company did as well. I have cleaned all my walls, curtains, and carpets, and I still smell cigarette smoke. I use wall deodorant plugs, and wall sprays and candles. I also got a crock pot and put hot water and potpourri oils in it. I still smell it, but no really heavy smell. My house smells.

By Bobbie A from Jeffersonville, IN

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April 5, 20121 found this helpful
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Have you cleaned your furniture? Upholstered furniture and mattresses will hold on to that smoke smell. Even wooden furniture (be sure to clean the sides, not just the top) and cabinets need to be cleaned well to remove the tar and nicotine residue. You might not be able to see it, but it's there.

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April 5, 20121 found this helpful
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Place some pans of heated vinegar around the house for a few days. You can also place pans of charcoal (activated, if available). The vinegar smell will linger, but is very short lived. The smoke odor in fabrics might be reduced by spraying with Febreze?

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April 8, 20120 found this helpful
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Everything will need to be cleaned; smoking gets residue even inside your lights, TV, and other appliances. Clean your furniture, pillows I would toss and replace. Have you also wiped down mirrors pictures, and glass? Change your vacuum bag and air filters for your a/c and heat. It will be in your blankets, clothing, luggage, towels - everything.

It may take several years for it to totally go away. A friend of mine had her home professionally cleaned by a special smoke removal company after she quit smoking, and on damp days the smell still came out 2 years later.

Good luck!

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October 8, 20160 found this helpful

I'm trying to remove cigarette smoke from my rental apartment

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February 17, 2011 Flag
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We bought a house that had smokers living in it. We have stripped up all carpet and had the wood floors refinished. We have stripped and refinished the woodwork and painted everything else, but in the spring in the time between using the furnace and the air conditioner, we can still smell the odor. Does anyone have any suggestions?

By Betty

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February 18, 20110 found this helpful
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Did you use Kilz primer with an odor blocker before painting? Most smokers occupy kitchen, livingroom and bedroom where smoke is more prevalent. Have you scrubbed closets, cabinets, appliances that went with the home? If you use a strong fragrance when cleaning like PineSol or a citrus scent and air the house this Spring that should help in time. Does the house have floor vents? Use the long hose on your vac or shop vac and get as far into the duct as possible moving it back and forth. This will get loose debris/dust that odors cling to and then you can scrub the interior so far back with a strong disinfectant cleaner (I like Lysol in brown bottle) and set a bowl of vinegar water or crushed/bruised lemon or orange peelings on a saucer inside the vent duct.

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February 18, 20112 found this helpful
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An ozone generator will do the trick. I had a bad cooking incident in my home. I was told that I would have to repaint the whole house to remove the smell. I researched smoke removal and subsequently purchased an ozone generator from eBay for about $150. It was well worth it. I had tried everything to remove horrible smoke smell and nothing else worked. You can rent them, but I used it for several days to totally eliminate the odor, so purchasing the unit made sense. Good luck!

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February 22, 20110 found this helpful
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Before you go through the expense of having your ducts cleaned, get the furnace professionally cleaned first. Your ducts get dirty from the furnace. And, it takes more than just changing the furnace filters to clean a furnace and get it tuned up. Something the manufacturers recommend you have done once a year anyway. Then after the furnace is professionally cleaned, look at getting the ducts cleaned. Smoking and having pets all go through the furnace cycle and into the duct work. On average you will pay about $89 for a good reputable company to come out and professionally clean and tune up the furnace.

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October 14, 20160 found this helpful

Ozone generators may work but it did not work in this home. I have asthma and am allergic to cig smoke. We are trying everything we can think of, including removing the carpet and pad. All window coverings are gone and we are using Kiltz.

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October 16, 2010 Flag
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My roommate and I have been heavy smokers for years. I want to clean my entire house, walls, rugs, appliances, furniture, etc. to remove all nicotine from my home. This is why we do not have very much company at all family or friends. I need to change my lifestyle so I can also start breathing properly. Basically, I need help with everything that has to do with nicotine cleaning from my home and body. Is there any help out there?

By Sherri from Boston, MA

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October 16, 20100 found this helpful
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You didn't state if you were giving up smoking or not, but there are e-cigs that operate as a mist and you can buy vials of flavored non nicotine liquids to refill the ecigs. It's better healthwise for you than smoking cigarettes if you want to try giving them up and the best thing about ecigs is it's odorless and no nicotine building up in lungs, clothing, and home, etc.

In the future anyone who smokes should do it outdoors, so your home remains odor free of cigarette smoke and remove all temptation by getting rid of the ashtrays. To clean a lot of your heavily coated household items like sofa, chair, carpet, drapes or anything else fabric, is not going to be easy. You may look on the internet for commercial cleaning products that get down deeper than what you can get in the supermarkets.

If you can afford to replace upholstered seating, I'd do that to save a lot of effort and time. You can buy almost new sofa/chair if you look around in newspaper ads or on the 'net if you can't buy new. I feel the same way about your carpet; years of smoke buildup and nicotine stains present in fabric won't all come out.

If you need to go cheaper on cleaners w/o replacing a lot of furnishings, use these two products but not together: PineSol and Lysol in brown bottle and wear gloves as too much on hands feels like they are burning a little. You'll have to go over and over everything to totally notice a big difference. The carpet padding may also have the odor in it and that's why you may not totally remove all odors especially noticeable on rainy days.

For walls if painted, scrub thoroughly to remove buildup and then repaint using a primer that deals with odors first. The primer will state it takes care of odors.

For woodwork, wash with PineSol and a lot will lift out and change the water frequently. Try a degreaser spray too. This may help lift some of that stubborn nicotine. You can use Scots Liquid Gold or a good wood polish afterward to bring back that newer look.

Sorry there's no EZ fix getting the job done, but it'll be cleaner and you'll be in a healthier lifestyle.

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October 18, 20100 found this helpful
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TriSodiumPhosphate or TSP is a powder you mix in water. It is the best thing for all walls, cabinets, paneling, etc.

Baking soda just in tubs or in the boxes around the house will help, as will the plants. Your body will detox on it's own. Lots of water in your system will help with the sallow look and the yellow fingers. You are a champion if you are giving up smoking. If you are not, then look around your home and imagine that the inside of your body.

Good luck.

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October 19, 20101 found this helpful

Bentonite clay will pull the nicotine and tobacco toxins from your body I would recommend taking capsules and drinking A lot of water, drink a lot of fresh juices veggie and fruit. As to cleaning walls I have had good success with a good microfiber cloth like the purple ones available from Flylady (google it) dawn and some water followed by spraying a solution of half white vinegar half water and scrubbing until everything comes clean. Have removed some nasty nicotine stains this way.

I would find a cleaner that has an ozone room for your furniture to put it in there after cleaning. You can get bentonite clay and capsules to put it in from www.thebulkherbstore.com

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December 1, 20160 found this helpful

Smoker in our house, smokes outside.

She buys the tobacco you roll yourself.

The stale smell of her smoking is all through the townhome.

It's horrible.

Any help will be great

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February 28, 2012 Flag
4 found this helpful

To rid your house of cigarette smoke smells, place little bowls of vinegar through out the house. It works!

By Patricia from Copperas Cove, TX

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Anonymous Flag
January 6, 20160 found this helpful

It helped in my case when I scrubbed everything down with vinegar then placed bowls of it around but it did not get rid of it

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June 17, 2016 Flag
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The woman who lived in the apartment before me was a chain smoker. The walls were prepped and painted. The smell seeped through after a month. The super in the building used something to bomb out the apt. and then put pellets in the vents and after that used an ionizer to clean the air. Well that didn't work either. I had to have the pellets removed because of the chemical smell. I even had to be on an inhaler for a while because of my breathing. It's hard to live here with a constant sore throat and smell. I want to wash down the walls and clean the rugs again myself. I don't want to have to paint the walls. I heard vinegar and water should do the trick.

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June 17, 20160 found this helpful

Cigarette smoke settles everywhere, changing from second hand smoke in the air to third hand smoke, which consists of old cigarette particles that cling to literally everything. You must thoroughly clean literally everything from the ceiling down-lights, wall switches, etc. and replace rugs and wall coverings. This is why the smell lingers for years or more. In addition to the constant smoke smell, you are also constantly breathing in third hand smoke, the cigarette particles. They are as cancerous as the original cigarette and second hand smoke.

Unfortunately, the best plan for you is quickly to move out of the apartment and be certain that your next apartment has always been smoke free.

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July 15, 2015 Flag
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We painted the yellow nicotine stained walls. To take the smell away do I have to clean and repaint again?

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July 16, 20150 found this helpful

When we moved into our house, one bedroom had been used by a smoker. We had to rip out and replace the carpet, clean the walls and ceilings with Mean Green (straight), and apply two coats of Kilz. Then we painted and laid new carpet, and finally the room was inhabitable.

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April 29, 20160 found this helpful

Need to resolve the nicotine problem first, paint will not adhere to the surface.

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March 11, 2008 Flag
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We just had a family member move into an apartment. The person who lived there before was a heavy smoker. Does anyone have ideas on how to get the smell of smoke out of the apartment? The carpets have been shampooed and the landlord painted, but the scent is still there. Any idea would be great. Thank you!

Stacy from El Paso, IL

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March 15, 20080 found this helpful

We have used charcoal. Get a few bags put into buckets place around the home.

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March 17, 20080 found this helpful

We went through a similar isssue. We used most of the other suggestions posted and all seemed to help but did not completely eliminate the smell. Finally, a friend suggested we cut apples in half and place them all over the apartment. Apples aren't cheap, but it worked.

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March 20, 20080 found this helpful

We had a purchased trailer that smelled like smoke and rotten seafood - Ugh! We painted the walls, but used a primer called Bin (probably purchased at Home Depot) - the stuff seals stains and smells. It worked wonders. We did also remove all the upholstery and I'm sure this helped too.

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October 10, 20080 found this helpful

We had a house fire a few months ago, the home were re-build - I managed to save my brand new curtains never been used, but the smell of smoke is so deep in the fabric, we've tried dry cleaning, soak in vinegar, air outside, but to no avail! The minute we iron/press the curtains you get that horrible smell again. Who can help!

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December 4, 2015 Flag
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How do you get cigarette smoke out of your apartment?

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December 5, 20150 found this helpful

This works on so many surfaces like walls, ceilings and floors. Replace or have the carpet professionally cleaned. Very good stuff!

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