If you’re a smoker, you probably don’t realize it, but for non-smokers, a house where someone has smoked is a truly unpleasant smell that seems to penetrate into everything: the walls, the furniture, the curtains, even your clothes. Luckily, there are ways to fix this. Here’s how to get rid of the odour of cigarette smoke in a house and have it smelling fresh and clean instead.
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Published June 14, 2019, Updated September 11, 2021
Clean Out All Ashtrays
The first step in getting rid of any unpleasant smell is to remove the source. So, start by cleaning out all ashtrays. Make sure all cigarette butts have been extinguished properly so that they won’t be a fire hazard in the trash.
Open the Windows
Open as many windows as you can to air out the house. Fresh air will flow in, while the stale, smoky air will flow out.
Turn on the Fans
Place some fans strategically throughout your house, pointing towards doors and windows. Turning on the fans will not only increase air flow but if you place them wisely, they can help push out the smelly air faster.
Sprinkle Baking Soda
There are many things you should be cleaning with baking soda, but this common household item is also a very effective smoke odour eliminator. It does this by neutralizing the odour molecules. Sprinkle some baking soda on all surfaces that smell strongly of smoke, especially the carpets and fabric-covered surfaces. Let it sit for a day before vacuuming it.
Wash All Fabric Items
Cigarette smoke penetrates into everything made of fabric and the only real way to get rid of the smell is to wash those items. So, choose a sunny day to wash all your linens, curtains, pillow covers, sofa covers, clothes and so on. Let these items hang outside to dry while you clean out the smoke smell from your house or they’ll just reabsorb the smell if you bring them back in too soon.
Clean Wall Hangings
If you have wall hangings made of wool, canvas or other textiles, they have probably absorbed the smell of cigarette smoke too. Carefully wipe them down with a mild soap, some water and a wash cloth and leave them outside to dry while you clean the rest of the house.
Wash Hard Surfaces With Vinegar
Hard surfaces like floors and kitchen counters are just some of the things you should be cleaning with vinegar. When it comes to how to get rid of cigarette odour, vinegar comes in especially handy. Make a solution of about two thirds distilled white vinegar and one third water and use this to wash all hard surfaces, including the walls. Cigarette smoke leaves a greasy residue and the vinegar will dissolve this.
Use Ammonia to Scrub Away Stubborn Smells
If there are areas in your home where the cigarette smell seems to stick no matter what you do, it’s time to bring out the big guns. Make a solution of one cup of ammonia to about four litres of warm water and use it to scrub those stubborn spots. The smell of ammonia will go away on its own after a while.
Replace the Furnace Filter
Furnace filters trap the smells and contaminants from cigarette smoke and as they fill up, these nasty chemicals travel through the house and distribute the smell. Replace the filter with clean ones to keep the air fresh.
Clean the Air Ducts
When cigarette smoke enters the air ducts in your home, it will travel along these ducts and spread throughout the house. Clean the ducts to ensure there is no smoke residue left that can cause bad smells.
Place Coffee Grounds Throughout Your House
Using coffee grounds in your garden is one of those weird plant tips that actually work. However, coffee grounds don’t have to just go straight into your green space. They absorb odours and will fill your home with the smell of freshly brewed coffee instead. Put them in bowls or sachets in strategic places in your home. Clean out the bowls after a day or so to prevent mould.
Put Out Charcoal
Charcoal is one of the most effective weapons to have in your odour removal arsenal. Activated charcoal is more efficient, but also more expensive than the regular briquettes you use for your summer barbecue. You can use either, though, by placing it strategically in areas where you need it to absorb the smell of smoke.
Wipe Down Surfaces With Vanilla Extract
Pour a few drops of vanilla extract on a wet rag or sponge and use it to wipe down surfaces, including ornaments and other bric-a-brac. The vanilla will mask the scent of cigarette smoke as well as other bad smells, including pet odours.
Put Out Vanilla
It’s also a good idea to place cotton balls soaked in vanilla extract (or even small bowls with vanilla extract) strategically throughout your home. The smell will linger for longer if you do it this way rather than just wiping surfaces with vanilla extract.
Make a Steam Deodorizer
An incredibly simple way to deodorize your home is to use the power of steam. Mix some vanilla extract, essential oils or citrus fruits with water. Then let it boil for about 20 minutes to let the fragrant steam travel through the house. You can also microwave it for a few minutes on high – which is one of the hacks to clean your microwave in minutes – and then open the microwave to let the steam escape.
Use the Power of Fresh Produce
Fresh produce like apples, pears and citrus fruits can absorb bad smells in small spaces. Simply cut them into slices and leave the slices out overnight. Fruit pieces may even replace the bad smells with their own mouth-watering aroma. Remember though that overripe fruit is one of the things that attract bad bugs into your house, so remember to throw away the fruit pieces in the morning.
Use Essential Oils
For a quick deodorizing trick, make your own air-freshening spray. Simply blend a few drops of essential oils like lavender, orange, mint, eucalyptus, patchouli, rosemary, sage or tea tree with a bit of vodka and some water. Put this in a spray bottle and spritz as needed.
Use Incense or Scented Candles
Incense and scented candles are a cost-effective way of masking bad smells like that of cigarette smoke. Simply choose your favourite fragrance – cedarwood and vanilla are especially effective – and burn it where needed. Remember though to never let incense or candles burn when you’re not in the room, since they are fire hazards.
Get Some Air-Purifying Plants
Some indoor plants have fragrant flowers that can help mask bad odours in your house. Cigarette smoke, however, also releases harmful chemicals like ammonia, tuolene, methylamine, acetone and even arsenic. Consider getting plants that will improve the air quality in your home by absorbing these chemicals.
Have a Designated Smoking Area
To prevent that nasty cigarette smell from entering your house again, have a designated smoking area. Create a cosy corner outside on the deck or balcony with sufficient ashtrays where smokers can indulge.