Updated May 11, 2019

Have you ever walked into someone’s home and gotten smacked in the face with the smell of cigarette smoke? Non-smokers are especially sensitive to this, but even heavy smoke can be smelled by current smokers. The smell of smoke definitely does not help the sale of your house.

Getting rid of the smoke smell isn’t just an issue for selling your home. Maybe you recently stopped smoking (congratulations!) and want to refresh your own home. Regardless of why you want to get rid of the smell, here are some tips to help.

Where and why does the smoke smell stick around?

More often than not, the smell of smoke lingers in fabrics. This is especially true when someone has smoked inside their home for a long time. The smell sticks around in carpets, curtains, furniture, and linens.

The smell sticks around because of leftover resin and tar from the cigarettes. One way you will really notice this is if there is a painting or something hung on the wall and you remove it and realize that the actual color of the wall is much brighter. Cigarette smoke and the resulting tar discolors the walls and anything else it touches.

Depending on the duration and the intensity of the smoking, it may take some serious legwork to get rid of it, but it is important not just for aesthetic reasons, but also for health reasons.

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How can leftover smoke in a home impact your health?

You wouldn’t think that leftover, stale smoke would have any actual health effect on the new homeowners, but it does. Cigarette smoke smell is considered third-hand smoke, which exposes new homeowners (and their pets and children) to the same unhealthy chemicals that smokers and their close friends and family are exposed to.

Third-hand smoke affects the air quality in your home. Left untreated, it can result in headaches, nausea, and fatigue. It is best to address the smoke smell not just because it is unpleasant, but because of the health effects it can have on you and your family.

Does smoke smell affect selling your home?

Absolutely! Although there are ways to remediate the smell of smoke, not everyone wants to undertake this type of project. Some people just aren’t confident that the smell will ever fully go away, and don’t want to risk it.

Even if you can convince people that they can get rid of it, the smell of cigarette smoke still leaves a bad impression. When people walk into a home, they want to imagine themselves baking cookies in the oven, not lighting up a cigarette. Sensory experience is a very important part of the home buying process.

It’s really important that you actually try to eliminate the smoke smell before trying to sell your home. Lighting candles and spraying air freshener are dead giveaways that you are trying to cover something up, and potential buyers will not be fooled.

Tips for Removing Smoke Odor

A quick Google search will provide you countless ways of removing the odor of smoke in a home. Some work, others don’t. Some are cheap, others are expensive. It’s up to you to decide how much work you want to do yourself, and how much you want to spend having someone else do it for you.

Before investing in any of these remedies, it’s important to do your research, compare products and companies, and make the best choice for your situation. Ask others who have dealt with a similar situation what worked for them.

Professional Options

There are many ways to have cigarette smoke smell removed from a home by a professional. There are companies that specialize in this, like Serv-Pro, but you can also hire specific tradespeople to do some of the things that have been shown to help. These include:

  • prime and paint walls and ceilings
  • remove wallpaper
  • replace or dry clean curtains/window treatments
  • steam clean or replace the carpet
  • have ductwork cleaned and air filters replaced

All these services have costs associated with them but are well worth the price if you want to get rid of the smell of smoke that is in your new home.

Do-It-Yourself Options

Some of the things listed above, like painting walls, or cleaning carpets, you can do yourself. It takes a lot of elbow grease and probably an entire weekend, but if you are willing to put in the time, you can definitely save some money.

If you are going to paint, it’s recommended to wash your walls first. There are many types of cleaning products that exist for eliminating smoke smell. Use products that contain ammonia and glycol, these are key ingredients for neutralizing the smell. It’s a boring process but will be worth it in the long run. Make sure to always wear the proper safety equipment (goggles, gloves, etc.)

In addition to the walls and ceilings, cleaning all the other surfaces in your home will help get rid of the smell as well. For this, you can use something as simple as white vinegar. Just mix a few cups of vinegar into a bucket of warm water and use it as a cleaner on all hard surfaces (counters, sinks, windows, etc.)

If the odor isn’t terribly bad, there are some simple things you can do to help as well. You can sprinkle baking soda on upholstered surfaces, this will help to absorb odors. You can also invest in an air purifier.

Some people have even promoted using volcanic rock as an odor absorber. They are pretty inexpensive, so it can’t hurt to try placing some around your home where the smell is the worst and see if it helps!

Sometimes the only thing standing between you and your dream home is a little cigarette smoke. Don’t let that be a deterrent. There are ways to eliminate it and improve the air quality in your home. It will take time and money but will be worth the investment in the end.