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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It is almost impossible to remove cigarette smoke, gasses and particles from a home. There are three types of cigarette pollution from smoking in the home:
*Unburned or partially burned cigarette particles that fall from the cigarette onto surfaces.
*Cigarette smoke itself with gasses that permeate fabrics, carpets, etc.
*Smoke particles that fall onto surfaces. These particles last for years and are inhaled by adults, children, babies and pets from furniture surfaces, rugs and carpets, bare floors, etc.
The most effective way to remove most of the pollution is to permanently remove all rugs and upholstered furniture, repaint walls and ceilings, and wash all hard surfaces in the entire home. Even then, there will most probably be some exposure from the smoke gasses and smoke particles as these last for years.
Wash the walls and paint with a stainblocker to seal in any odor. Put in new carpet and pads. Try salvaging any upholstered furniture with a vinegar/detergent solution with baking soda to remove the smoke smell. New air filters on furnace and air purifier unit as well. A diffuser with essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender or lemon will make a big difference and add a beneficial healing for persons' breathing of the air in the home.
Use vinigor and baking soda spray
My daughter had this problem in a house they bought. They had to paint the walls with Zprime. That was the easy part. The insulation in the fridge was permeated with smoke, there was smoke stains behind the toilet. Even their wooden front door was tainted as was the aluminum screen door. They hired a cleaning service to to scrub the walls and felt it was money well spent and they are very frugal.
I work in a paint department. There are Primers, a type of treatment you use before painting the walls and ceiling, that are made to seal in odors. I won't be brand specific, as most if not all primer brands offer a primer that seals in odors. You will use your chosen primer, wait only the amount of time on the label, then paint. If you have carpet, you will want to remove it, and clean the floors. If they are wooden, you can shellac them after cleaning to seal in the odor; just be sure to let the shellac cure fully according to the directions before putting down rugs or carpet or they will stick. If you are keeping the floors bare, clean them then use a few coats of polyurethane as your sealer. Any fabrics as well as any filters such as furnace filters, will need to be replaced. A quick internet search for 'natural cleaners for cigarette smoke' will give you recipes for ingredients you have available in your area. You will need to use this cleaner on any surfaces you are not priming or shellacking to seal in the odors. You will still be able to smell it coming from areas which are inaccessible, but it will be greatly diminished.
The long-term solution might be to call in professionals.. Too important to mickey-mouse it.
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.
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.
Actually it is completely possible to remove these odors, I have made a business of it, see below:
It takes much longer than 12 hours to remove the cigarette and smoke odors if it is a heavy smell, you would not believe the homes that I have done where people have used vinegar, baking soda and so much more.
The only thing that will permanently remove the smoke odor is to professionally fog the home and then multiple day ozone shock treatment with multiple high output ozone machines in the home. I recommend Prozone Solutions if you are going to buy your own machines.
This is all I do-odors, many others besides smoke odor (cigarette odor, cigar odor and fire damage odor, gasoline in cars, rodent odor and more). Please see my site and check me out under Ozone Pure Air at Yelp!!! I only serve Southern California. God bless,
I have actually done many houses where they have used much much febreze in their homes, if the odor is bad it won't have much effect, again this is all I do is odors. For free advice or service in Southern California. Troy 949-291-0952
Buy zero scent. It is 12 a bottle but works great. I smoked for years and didn't turn my ac on and when one of my rooms got hot it smelled like I smoked a whole pack. I spritzed the room, rug too and it killed the smell.
I would go with a professional service! Especially since you were given the house. Better to invest wisely into your home than make it worse. Good Luck!
Activated charcoal will absorb some of the smell. Open windows and use fan to air out the home. You can also wash non-fabric surfaces with a diluted bleach or cut vinegar solution.
I have a method that's worked for me. Spray the carpet, air, and all furniture (basically everything... even walls if you must) with Febreeze Extra Strength. If needed add in a nice smoke eliminating candle (no normal scented candles will do nothing)... Lord Byrons Smoker's Candle or if you want a nice scent you can go with Smoke Odor Exterminator Candle (I'm sure there are others you could try) Lord Byrons can sometimes be found at Walmarts (the aisle that sells cigarettes if your Walmart does) other candles can be found online... if you have a smoke shop near you, you might find something there also.
Wash walls/ceiling with water a cleaning product call tsp(I picked mine up at ace hardware) and a couple tablespoons of cascade dishwasher soap. You will see the orange from the tar/nicotine on the rag you use. Works really well
Remove everything from house that is not attached and scrub walls, floors with a vinager and baking soda solution. Get a professional duct cleaner to clean the whole system. This should get rid of 95% of the smell and if you are that picky look for another house
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