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How to Remove Cigarette Smoke From a Home.

I recently did an inspection on a condo for a retired couple that for the most part had fairly manageable defects they were willing to work with. The deal, however still fell through. The reason for this was an undeniable and unavoidable smell of cigarette smoke.

The condo itself had been vacant for months and was freshly painted but it didn't matter. The smell, which most people who do not smoke find incredibly unpleasant, had permeated into EVERYTHING! Ultimately the couple decided not to get the condo and all parties were disappointed in the loss of the sale contract.

This got me thinking, how does one get the smell of cigarette smoke out of a home when it seems to have become a very part of the home itself? As someone who smoked for 10 years, I know first hand that this smoke can cling stubbornly to anything. Though sprays and air fresheners can help mask odors, they aren't very effective at removing them. Is the smell removal a pipe dream(tee-hee), or can it really be remedied?

I did some research and this is what I discovered helps greatly when attempting to remove the smell of cigarette smoke.

Air Out The Home

Let's get all those windows open to allow the flow of good old American fresh air throughout the home. If you have fans, you should place them in or next to windows pointed outwardly to get the musty indoor air out as soon as possible. As air pressure works, the escaping of air from the windows will cause other windows to pull fresh air in.

Try putting any furniture outside in the sun. UV rays have also been known to help neutralize odors. Keep in mind that in Florida, the sun is bright and hot and can damage delicate fabrics, so put grandmas hand sown goodies in the shade.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a great deodorizer. You may already know this because you have some in the fridge making sure your most sacred of appliances doesn't become unpleasant with smells. Here are some ways to use it when fighting cigarette smoke.

  • Fill Several small bowls with baking soda and set them all around the effected areas. Try leaving for a full day at least.

  • Sprinkle baking soda on carpets and rugs. Leave for a few hours and then vacuum it up.

  • Sprinkle the baking soda on any cloth furniture and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming it up.

Vinegar Wash

White Vinegar is an over achiever when it comes to household applications. It's another great and non toxic way to eliminate odors instead of just masking them.

  • Fill several small bowls with vinegar and set around the areas that smell. Leave them over night to absorb and eliminate smell.

  • Boil a pot full of vinegar and let it simmer for a couple ours. That evaporates and sends the vinegar in gas form all over the home to do it's magic.

  • Clothing or linens smell? Throw them in the wash with half a cup of the vinegar greatly helps remove the smell. Regular laundry smoke apparently doesn't have the chemical make up to eliminate the small like vinegar does. SCIENCE!


Carbon molecules in charcoal trap smells within them from the air. Instead of using the charcoal for a grill, which still will work to a point, try using activated charcoal which can be found in most home improvement stores. They are also usually labeled smoke or odor eliminators... you know, the whole point of this article.

Make sure the leave the charcoal in the bag it comes in and just place them around the house. Removing them could leave marks or stains on your stuff, and we're trying to solve problems here, not create more.

Steam Cleaning

If you have a steam cleaner or have access to somewhere that rents them this can be a great way to eliminate the smells. The heat and moisture will melt the oils and tar that are synonymous with cigarette smoke and allow you to wipe them away fairly easily.

Call A Professional

If you read all these DIY remedies and thought to yourself, no thanks, then just hire a professional to do it! Chances are there are plenty of companies in your local area that claim to be able to remove the smell. Read reviews, get some quotes, and have someone else solve your issue for you. Easy Peasy.

I hope this helps you with your odor issues and can save you if you are buying a home with a smell or trying to sell one, and not having much luck because of the odor.

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