Home Improvement

How to Get Rid of Cigarette Smells in Your House

January 30, 2020

Have you or a household member decided to kick the habit? Or maybe you’ve landed the living space of a former smoker. Either way, reminders of these old habits linger in the air every time you open the front door. Wondering how to remove the smoke smell from your house? 

Take a deep breath. You can remove the smell of cigarettes from your home by following the steps below. While the process is challenging, it’s far from impossible.

  1. Change Your Air Filters
  2. Paint Over Smoke-Stained Walls
  3. Replace Carpeting With Stubborn Smells
  4. Clean or Remove Furniture
  5. Swap Out Light Bulbs
  6. Buy Some Houseplants

Air Fresheners and Air Purifiers Won’t Remove Cigarette Smoke

The housecleaning aisle of your local grocery store comes replete with aromas in a can. However, spraying more chemicals in your home is not a great way to get rid of the smoke smell. Air fresheners can only mask odors.

Similarly, many air purifiers will advertise their ability to target even the smallest air particles. However, many of these products aren’t designed to remove the gaseous pollutants in tobacco smoke. Plus, these will not tackle the smoke clinging to fabrics, carpeting and even seeping into the walls.

Instead, look into solutions that get at the root of the problem and can eliminate the smell of cigarettes more permanently.

1. Change Your Air Filters 

If you haven’t been swapping out your HVAC filters monthly, now is the time to start. When you do, examine the noticeable gray color on the fabric. If the side effects of nicotine use can do that to bleach, imagine what it does to your lungs. 

Researchers have expressed concerns about the presence of thirdhand smoke, which affects people and animals who occupy the same spaces as smokers do — even years later. HVAC systems may pick up and spread tobacco smoke residue, contributing to the problem.

You may need to cement your commitment to going smoke-free with a call to a professional. Otherwise, make sure you clean the surfaces and components of your HVAC system thoroughly. The aroma of stale cigarettes can creep into the coils of your air conditioner if you have central air.

2. Paint Over Smoke-Stained Walls

You may wonder how to get rid of the cigarette smell when it seeps into the walls. If you can’t afford to rip out all your drywall, you can actually seal in odors with a new coat of paint.

You do need to thoroughly prepare your walls for this treatment. The last thing you want after your home makeover is for the stubborn smells of cigarette smoke to remain. Here’s how to do it right:

1. Wash walls with a strong cleaning solution. There are two routes to go here:

  • Trisodium phosphate (or borax): Mix a solution of TSP and warm water. This is aggressive enough to strip old paint and tackle mold and mildew, so it’s great for cigarette smoke and nicotine stains. However, you must take great caution with this product.
  • Distilled white vinegar: This is a much less effective but safer option if you’re uneasy about using chemicals. Mix 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar per gallon of water.

2. Spackle and sand the walls to create a smooth surface. Apply painters tape where needed.

3. Prime the walls with stain-blocking primer. This is a crucial step not only for general painting, but because this product will make sure stains don’t show through your new coat of paint later on.

4. Start painting! Add two coats, following best practices for DIY painting.

3. Replace Carpeting With Stubborn Smells

Third-hand smoke can spread through HVAC systems, but it’s also present in the fibers of carpeting and furniture throughout a home.

The aroma of cigarette smoke can leak into your carpeting. Additionally, moisture accumulation between the rug and foundation allows bacteria to flourish.

Surface fixes for cigarette smells in your carpeting include sprinkling baking soda and looking into professional shampooing. Even with deep cleaning, however, it’s best not to keep contaminated fabric around. Remove your old carpeting and look for a fresh, clean replacement.

4. Clean or Remove Furniture

If you want to get the smoke smell out of your home, you may need to buy a new couch. Fabrics absorb odors like sponges, but you can temporarily mask the damage by doing some laundry.

This may not require a complete home renovation. Inspect your furnishings — many feature removable covers that you can wash. Once washed, allow them to air-dry outdoors for maximum freshness. 

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5. Swap Out Light Bulbs 

Have you ever inspected your light bulbs? If not, take a look at the amount of dust that accumulates on the surfaces. Don’t think it has an odor? It probably does.

If you want to eradicate cigarette odor from your house thoroughly, replace your bulbs. To decrease your carbon footprint, opt for compact fluorescents or LEDs. That way, you can freshen up your home while reducing your electricity bills.

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6. Buy Some Houseplants 

Way back in 1993, NASA did a study on sustaining life on Mars. They wanted to know how they could purify the air in an enclosed environment. As a result, scientists discovered that plants do more than take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen. They also cleanse your indoor air of toxins. 

Adding houseplants beautifies your decor and can help detoxify your home from cigarette smoke. If you don’t have a green thumb, opt for easy-to-care-for varieties like bamboo, succulents and snake plants. 

How to Remove Smoke Smells From Your House

The good news is, the above steps will help you figure out how to get rid of cigarette smells in your home. The bad news? The process can take a lot of time, patience and persistence.

Put your energy into the solutions with the biggest impact. Clean or replace contaminated fabrics, wash down and paint your walls and check on your HVAC system. Then, you’ll already have tackled the major sources of thirdhand smoke.


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