How to Remove Cigarette Smoke Odor in Your House

Don’t let the stale odor of cigarette smoke contaminate your indoor air quality. Removing cigarette smoke demands patience – the acidic smoke leaves resins and tars that permeate everything in the vicinity.

The process for eliminating smoke odor in your house depends on the severity of contamination. If someone smoked inside for a decade, restoration may require a more invasive approach, such as throwing items out or even replacing the drywall and carpet. If the room smells like an ashtray, consider throwing out items that don’t have sentimental value – sometimes that overstuffed couch is just too smelly and not worth the time and money you would spend on restoring it.

Rainbow International has a few suggestions to show you how to remove cigarette smoke smell from your house. You might be able to eliminate the smoke smell with just a few of these tips, or the job may require a combination of several methods (and repetition) to remove the odor entirely. 

Start with Hard Surfaces

Begin by opening all windows and doors to provide ventilation while you clean. Use a spray bottle and a rag to wipe down all hard surfaces with a 50 / 50 solution of white vinegar and hot water. You may also wash the walls and ceiling with a mixture of 1/2 cup ammonia, 1/4 cup vinegar, 1/2 cup baking soda and a gallon of hot water.

Leave no surface untouched: Clean walls, doors, knobs, light fixtures (bulbs too), ceilings, fan blades, and anything the smoke came in contact with. Wipe down all knickknacks, photo frames and decorations as well. Consider throwing out items such as lampshades and throw pillows that absorb odors well and are easy to replace. To reach high spots, use a ladder or an extension pole with a rag clamp.

Wash Fabrics

Next, focus on fabric, carpet and upholstery – beginning with what you can’t throw in the washing machine. Sprinkle everything with baking soda, and let it sit for a few days. Once the baking soda has had a chance to absorb the odor, vacuum it all up and repeat as necessary. Then steam clean the carpets. If you don’t have a steam cleaner, you can buy or rent one at your local hardware store. If your steam cleaner has an upholstery attachment, use this to clean drapes or upholstered furniture too.

Wash your laundry-safe fabrics (couch-cushion covers, some drapes and curtains) in the machine with 1/2 cup vinegar instead of detergent. Follow up with another wash cycle with your preferred detergent. It’s best to let these items air-dry outside to prevent shrinkage. 

Air Circulation & Purification

If weather permits, keep windows and doors open for as long as is practical. Use fans to encourage air circulation – have one fan blowing air from outside on one side of the room, and put another fan across the room to exhaust the air outside. An air purifier with a HEPA filter can help remove odor-causing molecules. If the odor remains after you air out your home, place activated charcoal or bowls of white vinegar (or even apple cider vinegar) around the rooms to absorb odors. Replace the charcoal or vinegar every few days. Be wary of scented “odor removal” products, which may just mask the smell instead of removing it. 

Homeowners should also replace HVAC air filters. Your home’s air filters help remove odor-causing molecules, and they work best if they’re replaced every two to three months. Consult with the furnace or AC unit manufacturer to find a filter that may help with odor removal (e.g., charcoal or HEPA filters). You should also inspect your ducts for any dust or debris that may contain smoke molecules; this may be contaminating the fresh air in your home as it travels down your ducts. If you see buildup, hire a professional to clean your ducts

Ozone Generator

If smoke odor still lingers after you complete all these steps, an ozone generator is your next best option. Ozone is a powerful cleanser and is very effective at eliminating odors. Ozone generators create activated oxygen. By oxidizing the smoke molecules, they can eliminate the smoke smell entirely (if used properly). Homeowners can rent or purchase ozone generators from their local hardware store. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations, which usually involve leaving the machine running in a closed room for a specific period of time. 

Call the Experts

Removing the smell of cigarette smoke can be a frustrating process. If you’re too busy to scrub walls or you just can’t seem to remove that stale odor, Rainbow International can help. We utilize state-of-the-art tools and techniques for professional odor removal. Our experts are certified by IICRC, the leader in professional odor removal certifications. Just call us at 855-724-6269, or schedule an appointment online.

Even if the odors go away entirely or almost entirely, there may still be discoloration on your walls or ceiling caused by cigarette smoke. A fresh coat of paint not only covers remaining cigarette smoke damage; it also refreshes your home with a new look! Ask for your free estimate from Five Star Painting, another member of the Neighborly network of trusted home service providers.