Skip to main content

How to Get Cigarette Smoke Smell Out of Your House

Angela loves researching new facts, especially those about science and history. She feels that knowledge is essential in growth.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know in order to get those undesirable smoke smells out of your house.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know in order to get those undesirable smoke smells out of your house.

Cigarette Smoke Removal: A Step-by-Step Guide

Smoke smell is often a strong deterrent when house shopping, but it doesn't have to be. With some hard work, a few supplies, and several hours, you can get the smoke smell out of your house.

I have written a step-by-step guide for how to rid your entire house of unwanted cigarette smoke odors. It took my husband and me a whole weekend to complete this task throughout our entire home. It is very time-consuming but very worth it in the long run.

How to Eliminate Cigarette Smoke Odors From Your House

Here are the main steps you'll need to follow to rid your home of those nasty cigarette smoke odors:

  1. Air Out the Entire House.
  2. Wash or Clean All Clothes, Fabrics, and Linens.
  3. Clean Your Ducts and Replace Filters (Air, Furnace, and Air Conditioning).
  4. Clean Your HVAC Evaporator Coil.
  5. Wash or Clean All Furniture and Surfaces.
  6. Wash Your Walls Down.
  7. Clean the Baseboards and Various Fixtures.
  8. Prime and Paint Your Walls.
  9. Clean or Replace the Carpet.
  10. Leave Out Some Deodorizers.

1. Air Out the Entire House

As with most any cleansing to get rid of funky smells, the first thing you should do is air everything out. Open up all the windows and doors and turn on the fans. Let as much of the stale air that's been sitting in the house find its way outside.

You can also place fans in strategic places to increase airflow and help encourage funky odors to vacate the premises, which naturally won't magically restore the house to perfect condition. However, it will still do a good amount of the work for you with little to no effort on your part.

Consider Using Air Purifiers and Dehumidifiers

It's also worth considering investing in a modest air purifier to help suck up some of the dust and particulate matter in the air while you work on eliminating some of the trickier smells that have attached themselves to the walls, floors, and the rest of the house.

Additionally, you might want to think about also using a dehumidifier. Since moist air tends to hold odors, drying out particularly smoky rooms will help some of the stronger smells to dissipate.

2. Wash or Clean All Clothes, Fabrics, and Linens

As anyone who has smelled the clothes of a smoker can attest, fabrics are a magnet for stinky odors. All fabrics and linens should be gathered up and washed. Even if you don't think an item smells all that bad, it's still best to round everything up and clean it anyway—especially since it's possible that it does indeed smell bad, but you don't happen to notice it as much due to the stronger odors around it.

Naturally, this goes for all your clothes too. If they have been in a house permeated by cigarette smoke, then it's pretty likely that they've absorbed some of it as well.

Note: Considering how easily fabrics can reabsorb funky smells even when washed, it's probably best to store your clean clothes in another location until you've successfully rid your house of the smoky odors.

3. Clean Your Ducts and Replace Filters

Even if you cleaned the walls and floors all across your house, much of that progress could easily and quickly be undone if you neglect to address your dirty air ducts. Cigarette smoke and various chemicals can cling hard to air ducts—even if nobody has smoked in the house in a while—and be blown out into your home, filling every room with that repulsive smell once again. So it's essential to clean your ducts early on in the process, so you do not make more work for yourself down the line.

Though it's possible to clean your air ducts yourself, it can be a complicated process, especially if the ducts in your home are a real pain to access. So in most cases, it's best to hire a professional to do so. Just make sure you shop around and research any companies or procedures you're thinking of going with in order to avoid being taken advantage of or paying more than you should.

Scroll to Continue

Read More From Dengarden

Replace the Air Conditioning Filters, Furnace Filters, and Air Filters

Similarly, it's essential to change the various filters in your house to prevent those smells and chemicals trapped in them from re-entering your home, which applies to furnace filters, air filters, and air conditioning filters, all of which are in many houses.

While it is undoubtedly easier to replace them outright—and you might need to if they're badly damaged or too worn out—in many cases, it's preferable to clean them with the kind of TSP solution detailed later in this article. Just soak the filter in the TSP solution for no longer than an hour, and use a brush to scrub out any odors and visible dirt. Then rinse thoroughly with water and pop them back in.

Note: Always remember to use protective gloves when handling TSP in any capacity.

Replacing or cleaning dirty air filters helps reduce the amount of smoky odors circulated throughout your house.

Replacing or cleaning dirty air filters helps reduce the amount of smoky odors circulated throughout your house.

4. Clean Your HVAC Evaporator Coil

When someone smokes in a house, those fumes can often get pulled into the coils of an HVAC unit. From that point on, when you turn on that same HVAC unit, the cold or hot air that it emits will be laden with undesirable smoky odors. So you'll want to clean the evaporator coils on your HVAC units before using them again.

To do this, you'll need to turn off the unit and remove its access panel. Although you can clean coils with DIY solutions of diluted bleach or diluted detergent, it's generally much easier to go with the kind of self-cleaning coil cleansers you can find at your local hardware store. These products use the condensation generated by the unit to wash themselves away, which is particularly helpful, as many coils are not easy to reach. Despite only being best cleaned thoroughly by removal, only professionals should remove them.

For more information on how to clean your HVAC's coils, check out this useful DenGarden article on How to Clean Air Conditioner Coils.

5. Wash or Clean All Furniture and Surfaces

Believe it or not, even furniture and most surfaces can absorb and retain unwanted odors. So you'll need to clean these as well if you want your house smelling good again, which includes everything from floors and ceilings to windows and fixtures.

Use Baking Soda on Furniture

When it comes to furniture and mattresses, baking soda is likely your best tool for deodorizing. Sprinkle the powder all over your smelly furniture and let it sit for 30–60 minutes. (Using a colander to help you disperse the powder can be quite helpful.) You can also do a little light rubbing on any, especially smelly areas to improve the baking soda work its magic.

Once the baking soda has been given time to absorb the odors, go ahead and vacuum it all up.

Use Vinegar or Diluted Bleach on Non-Fabric Surfaces

Both vinegar and bleach are especially good at breaking up the resins and tars found in cigarette smoke.

  • For vinegar solutions: Mix equal parts water and distilled white vinegar. Use this to clean plastic, wood, and metal appliances and furniture. You can even put it in a spray bottle for easy application. Be sure to rinse down sensitive surfaces with water afterward. (If you're concerned about the vinegar smell, feel free to mix in a few drops of essential oils, such as citrus, rosemary, or lavender.)
  • For bleach solutions: Mix 1/2 cup chlorine bleach to every 1 gallon of water. Use this to clean countertops, sinks, showers, bathtubs, glazed tile, vinyl, and floors. And always remember to rinse thoroughly with water after cleaning.

Note: Do not use bleach on any surface you just cleaned with vinegar and avoid mixing them in general.

Wash or Replace Window Treatments

Window treatments like blinds and curtains are notorious for absorbing unwanted odors. So you'll want to wash or replace all of these items.

If made of fabric, like most curtains, you can throw them in a washing machine or steam clean them. Just be sure to check their respective labels for any potential special care needs they might have.

As for the blinds, they can be washed with a TSP solution like the one detailed below, or with plain old vinegar, which may not always fully eradicate the odors, however. So if they remain smelly even after you've cleaned them, then they might need to be replaced.

Note: It's also a good idea to give the windows themselves a good cleaning, as smoke can often leave a kind of film that tends to smell pretty bad when warmed up by direct sunlight.

A diluted TSP solution is particularly effective at cleaning walls, blinds, and baseboards.

A diluted TSP solution is particularly effective at cleaning walls, blinds, and baseboards.

What Is TSP? How Do You Use It?

TSP stands for trisodium phosphate, which is a heavy-duty general purpose cleaner located at most hardware stores. TSP is an effective cleanser that is safe for walls, woodwork, and floors. It will not only remove the smell of smoke off of your walls but any stains that may have been left due to heavy smoking as well.