Cigarette smoke smells horrible. If you’re a smoker yourself, you might eventually reach a point at which you no longer notice it. When you quit, though – or if you purchase a home owned by a former smoker – you’ll soon discover that the lingering smell of tobacco smoke inside a home is a severe detriment to the experience of living there.
So, whether you’re a quitter yourself – maybe you switched to vaping with the help of an e-cigarette from V2 Cigs – or you decided to buy a smoker’s home because you were able to get a great deal, you’ve got a real project on your hands.
We’re going to tell you up front that the title of this article is a bit of a misnomer. There’s actually nothing simple about removing the smoke smell from a home. However, it is something that almost anyone can do without any special tools, skills or knowledge. All it really takes is time, persistence and a willingness to work.
Before we begin, it’s important to note that persistence really is the key when it comes to removing the smell of cigarette smoke from a home. When you clean one area of the home, you’ll notice that the smoke smell is lessened. After a while, though, you’ll notice that the smell isn’t completely gone, and you’ll continue by cleaning something else. When you’ve removed almost all of the smell, even the slightest hint of cigarette smoke in some small area of the home will send you into fits. That, however, is the reason why smokers’ homes sell for close to 30 percent less than nonsmokers’ homes.
Let’s start cleaning!
Start With the Soft Surfaces
More than anything else, it’s the soft surfaces of a home that absorb the odor of smoke and continue to smell like cigarettes for years. Baking soda does a good job of neutralizing the molecules that cause that smoky smell, so that’s going to be your first line of attack in getting the smell out of your home.
Be aware that thorough smoke remediation often requires replacing a home’s curtains, carpets and furniture. That’s an expensive proposition, though, so here’s how you can potentially avoid that. Start by taking the curtains down and washing them in strong detergent with plenty of baking soda. The heat of a dryer can sometimes cause unpleasant smells to set, so you might consider drying the curtains on an outdoor line rather than using a heated dryer.
Next, sprinkle baking soda liberally on the carpets and furniture. Leave it there for 24 hours before vacuuming it up. Vacuum as thoroughly as possible; make sure that you clean under all furniture and vacuum the cushions. Continue by steam cleaning the floors. Steam clean the furniture as well if possible.
Move On to the Hard Surfaces
Vinegar also works well to neutralize the smell of smoke, and that’s what you’re going to use to clean the home’s hard surfaces. Clean the walls, ceilings, windows and hard floors with a strong vinegar solution. When the vinegar smell dissipates, you should find that the smoke smell is greatly lessened. If you’re not completely happy with the result, you can also try cleaning the hard surfaces with a solution containing trisodium phosphate.
A steam cleaner can also be useful for removing the smoke smell from the hard surfaces in a home. The odorous molecules are often encapsulated in sticky substances like nicotine and tar, which hardens over time and becomes extremely difficult to remove. A steam cleaner softens the smoke residue, making it easier for you to wipe it away.
If cleaning your home isn’t enough to get rid of the smoke smell, the problem could be that the drywall has actually absorbed the odor. Replacing the drywall isn’t practical, but there is another option that you might consider: You can repaint the home’s interior. Odor-blocking paint primer exists for the purpose of smoke remediation. You can use the primer to trap the smoke smell, and when you finish the repainting project, your home will smell just like new.
Clean the Home’s HVAC System
In a home with central heating or air conditioning, the smell of cigarette smoke can become pervasive because the odor circulates throughout the home and becomes trapped in the ducts and in the inner workings of the HVAC system. The simplest solution for getting the smoke smell out of an HVAC system is to replace all air filters. If smokers have lived in the home for a long time, though, a more thorough cleaning may be necessary.
Start with the system’s coils. Evaporator coils are magnets for dust and grime. They’ll trap smoke residue and blow the odor through the home every time you use the HVAC system. In most cases, you can scrub the coils clean with a brush and some mild soap. Call in a professional if the coils are extremely dirty.
The final step in cleaning your home’s HVAC system is washing out the air ducts, and if the HVAC system was installed in the last decade or two, there’s a good chance that the ducts have never been cleaned. This is a case where you’re likely to get the best result with professional assistance.
Circulate Air Through the Home
One of the most effective ways to remove the smell of cigarette smoke from a home is with plenty of sun and fresh air. If you have stinky furniture that won’t discolor in direct sunlight, move it outside on a sunny day. The sun’s radiation will help to break down the odor-causing molecules.
You can also greatly reduce the smell of smoke in your home by increasing the air circulation. On a day when the weather is pleasant and breezy, open all of the home’s windows and place box fans in the windows to create a corridor of moving air.
Point the fans inward on one side of the home and outward on the other side to force plenty of fresh air through the home while expelling the stale air.