Removing the smell of cigarettes from your home is not an easy task, but with enough work and the right products, it can be accomplished. Cigarette smoke, and the tar that's in it, can infiltrate every nook, cranny, and crevice in the home and its pungent odor gets absorbed into the walls, the carpet, and furniture, so many of the following steps may have to repeated before the home will be completely free of the odor.
How to Get Cigarette Odors Out of Your Home
To get the smoky smell out of your home, you'll have to be diligent in cleaning, repeating the steps in order. Doing it this way ensures that you are removing odors as efficiently as possible.
Step 1: Open Windows and Remove Linens
Open up the windows on a cool, breezy day to rid the home of the stale, smoky air and allow fresh, clean air to enter the home. Remove the curtains and other linens to be laundered, or replace them with fresh linens.
Step 2: Pull the Cigarette Odor Out of the Air
Place glass bowls filled with vinegar or activated charcoal throughout the rooms after the windows have been shut, making sure that the bowls are set high enough so children or pets do not overturn them. Allow the bowls to remain in the rooms for approximately 24 hours.
Step 3: Clean the Carpets
Sprinkle granulated dry carpet cleaner over the carpet, wait for about 20 minutes and then vacuum up the granules. In very odorous rooms, more than one application may be required.
If you do not have access to granulated dry carpet cleaner, then sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on the carpet and on your upholstered furniture. Let the baking soda sit overnight and then vacuum it up.
If the odors persist or the color of the carpet or furniture has been altered due to smoke, then use a commercial-grade steam cleaner with good-quality shampoo to clean all of the carpets and fabric-covered furniture in the home.
Step 4: Clean Hard-Surface Areas
Scrub hardwood floors, counter tops and cabinets with undiluted white vinegar and a durable rag. The vinegar will cut through the tar and sanitize the surfaces. Wear rubber gloves and a face mask to help protect your skin and respiratory system when using undiluted vinegar.
Step 5: Clean the Ceiling and Walls
Nicotine and tar sticks to the ceiling and walls, so these areas in particular must get a thorough cleaning if you want to remove the telltale odor of cigarettes from the room. Wipe the ceiling and walls down with undiluted white vinegar, and this should help reduce the cigarette odors. If the cigarette odor returns after the vinegar smell dissipates, then apply a sealant to the ceiling and wall and repaint them with high-quality primer and paint.
In extreme cases, smoke odors can penetrate through the drywall and into the actual framing of the home. If the cigarette odors are still evident after sealing and repainting the ceiling and walls, then all of the drywall and insulation will need to be replaced and the framing below it sealed with a good quality sealant.
Additional Problem Areas
Sometimes, simply cleaning the carpet, furniture, walls, and ceilings are not enough to eliminate the odor that comes from many years' worth of smoking. In these cases, you may want to add the following areas to your to-do list:
- A complete cleaning and sanitizing of your HVAC system (you may want to have this done by a professional)
- Replace all electrical outlets, switches, and cover plates (the plastic can absorb smoke odors)
- Replace all of the grout in the home (grout is highly absorptive, especially when it is not sealed properly)
When to Call a Professional
If, after you've tried to clean your home and eliminate the odors and still find the smoke smell pervasive, it might be time to call in the professionals. Professional cleaning services use specialized technology to pull odors out of your home. Be sure to get a referral for someone in your area, and go with a company who specializes in odor removal. While it's not always necessary to call a professional, some smoke odor problems are so deeply ingrained into the house that using professional services may be the only way to get the smell out.