- Smokers may not be the best sort of guests, but there was a reason you invited them to your house in the first place. Another possible reason for the lingering odors of cigarette smoke in your house is its previous owners. In both cases, you want to remove smoke smells from the house quickly.
- Smoke odors hovering around the house can be pretty irritating and unpleasant, but it’s not only a matter of inconvenience; they can also cause more severe smoke damage to the house.
- This article explains the most effective methods for eliminating smoke odor in the house.
Why are lingering odors so harmful?
What’s the actual problem? According to research, the matter may go far beyond removing the yellowy stains.
The actual issue is not as much of a visual issue as it is related to smoke smells and smoke molecules.
Important: Studies have linked the lingering odor of cigarette smoke to cancer.
Smoke particles are particularly hazardous for pets and small children, who are more likely than adults to transfer smoking residue on their hands and into their mouths.
Not many people know that historically, real estate investors were glad to buy grossly discounted smokers’ houses—claims Think Realty—and just after purchase, they tried to purge the smell and cleanse the home thoroughly.
While the idea isn’t bad, today’s specialists believe that smoke remediation should be much more precise and in-depth than they thought in the past.
Important: Mind that sellers are not required to disclose if a former resident is a smoker in today’s society.
Smoke smell removal methods
If you need to get rid of smoke odors from the house of a smoker, first, follow a couple of simple steps:
- Open all the windows to let the fresh air in.
To ensure excellent air circulation, place a portable fan in the center of the largest room and direct the fan blades outward, so the blow forces smoky air from the room. Keep your windows open, and doors open for as long as possible. Fresh air is an underappreciated air purifier.
Tip: Don’t forget to throw away cigarette butts found in the house—they are terribly smelly and can spread an intense smoke smell for a long time after being smoked.
- UV rays also help neutralize odors.
If there’s warm water outside, set the furniture, books, clothing, and other fabric items that stayed in the smoky place in a sunny spot. Leave them there for several hours.
Tip: Intense sunlight can be tricky for fabrics. While it can help you get rid of smoke odor, it can also damage or fade your upholstered furniture’s delicate or dyed fabrics. As an alternative, air the vintage furniture more in the shadow than straight in the full sun.
What about chemical cleaning solutions?
- Baking soda is a safe homemade solution that can help you absorb odors such as cigarette smell.
Why is sodium bicarbonate such a perfect deodorizer? Sprinkling baking soda doesn’t mask smells but actually absorbs them.
Important: Scented candles and perfumed aerosols mask the odor temporarily, but don’t remove it!
Here’s how to use baking soda for the effective odor removal:
- to purge a room or an interior of a car of smoky odors, fill several small bowls with baking soda. Place them around the space and leave for at least 24 hours.
- to remove the smoky smell from the rugs or carpeting, sprinkle baking soda onto it, let it sit overnight or for at least two hours, and vacuum it up.
- to remove smoke smells from the smelly sofa or plush chair, sprinkle it with a light coating of baking powder and let it sit for at least hours. Then, vacuum up the soda with an upholstery attachment.
- the deodorizing process for books, garments, and decorative items that aren’t easy or are impossible to wash, comprises putting them into a large plastic trash bag together with one-half cup of baking soda. Tie the bag shut, and wait about eight hours before you shake off the powder and remove the items from the bag;
Baking soda is one way to remove bad odors naturally. Another one is vinegar.
4. White vinegar is another safe, household solution able to neutralize or remove odors such as smoke.
How does it work? It has a low pH which “attacks” the high pH smoke molecules—as it alters them, it simultaneously reduces their odor.
Tip: Vinegar has a pungent smell that may seem even worse than cigarette smoke for some of us. Don’t worry; a vinegar smell dissipates quickly once it dries or if you wipe it away.
So how to get rid of smoke smell?
- for a room or vehicle, fill several small bowls with white vinegar, and set them around the space. Let them sit overnight.
- the deodorizing process will go faster if you simmer a saucepan of vinegar on the stove for an hour or two. The steam wafting through the air will help remove the smoke smell,
- to give new life to machine-washable clothing that came into contact with the cigarette smoke, set a wash cycle with a half a cup of white vinegar instead of laundry detergent. The acid in the vinegar breaks down the malodorous molecules. Laundry detergent is typically neutral or alkaline, and it won’t do a great job neutralizing smoke’s odors.
5. Activated charcoal may initially sound weird as a method to eliminate smoky odor, but it can do wonders.
We use activated charcoal for barbecues, so it’s natural we associate it with the smell of smoke rather than as a method to eliminate it.
How does this solution work? A carbon chemical compound chemically “traps” smells—clearing them from the air and acting as a natural air purifier.
Here’s how to use it to remove smoke smells:
Set or hang a couple of bags of activated charcoal around a smoky room or car. You can also place the bags atop smoke-damaged furniture or carpeting.
Tip: Be careful with this method. Loose activated charcoal powder put directly on fabric items will remove the smell of smoke but at the cost of leaving a stain.
6. Steam cleaner absorbs odors from walls, wood floors, and upholstered furniture.
How do you steam the nasty smoke smell away? The heat produced by a steam cleaner melts the hardened tar and oils encapsulating the smoke molecules.
When you’re done with a steam cleaner, wipe the surfaces away with a microfiber cloth or sponge after the procedure.
To reduce odors from hard surfaces, mist them lightly with hot steam, moving the steam cleaner’s head continuously so that no single area is saturated.
Important: Oversaturating can cause severe damage to silk and other delicate fabrics and even hard surfaces such as drywall.
7. Purchase an air purifier designed to collect smoke smell.
You may have one at home and find it doesn’t handle the smoky smell well. Some collect particulate matter but aren’t effective in dealing with gaseous pollutants, such as cigarette smoke. Others, especially those that use charcoal filters (also known as activated carbon), use the technology designed to remove the acrid odor of cigarette smoke.
Important: Air filters and air purifiers aren’t the same things. The first is built into your HVAC system. The latter is a stand-alone appliance designed to purify the air by removing dangerous fumes and finer particles that an HVAC filter doesn’t touch.
8. Ozone generators may help reduce or eliminate smoke odor from your house
An ozone generator is quite an expensive product available on the market known that should effectively reduce the odor. However, it will not eliminate it entirely in most cases. Ozon generators can’t deal with the odor that has permeated the draperies, carpets, furnishings, etc.
Odor removal from the house construction
If the house needs a more serious refreshment, use these more demanding methods:
- change filters on heating and cooling systems, clean the ducts professionally, clean the evaporator coil in the HVAC unit or replace the HVAC system entirely,
- install HEPA filters and charcoal odor prefilters,
- steam clean the carpets,
- wash or replace curtains and drapes,
- change the lightbulbs,
- wash the walls and ceilings thoroughly before painting; deep clean the walls with a heavy-duty cleaner, such as trisodium phosphate;
- paint walls and ceilings with a neutralizing shellac-based primer and fresh paint;
- use a dehumidifier;