While researching this topic, I asked a relative for some practical advice to rid my house of cigarette smoke. Their answer was immediate and to the point: QUIT SMOKING! Who isn’t tired of hearing that one? The truth is that cigarette smoke permeates into our furniture, our carpets, our walls, our windows, and just about every other nook and cranny in our homes. Us smokers are generally unaware of the smell. The same problem exists in our cars. There are large numbers of people who are allergic to cigarette smoke, or suffer some very serious breathing issues when they come into contact with it. Even the lingering smell of cigarette smoke left in a home or a car by its previous occupants is not just noticeable, but may be close to intolerable to a non-smoker. So if you’re not ready to kick the habit just yet, let’s explore some methods of controlling the cigarette smoke in our environments. Who knows, the next person to bask in your odor may be a hot date or prospective employer and if they don’t smoke, a noticeable odor will definitely make an impression.
Get the Smoke Out!
If you smoke inside, devise a system that pulls the smoky air outside of your home so it doesn’t have time to set on your surroundings such as smoking in front of a window fan that is set to expel air from the room. Despite the people who feel second hand smoke is a health risk even if you are smoking outside in a wind storm, the smoke needs to be trapped inside an enclosed area to deposit its odor.
Make a Smoker’s Lounge
If you have any rooms in your home which are seldom used, consider making one your smoker’s lounge and furnish it accordingly. This room will reek, but it will also keep you from stinking up the rest of your home. Better yet, set up shop on your porch or patio to keep the stink out of your house entirely.
Purify the Air
There are many air purifiers on the market that claim to remove cigarette smoke and odor from the air before it gets a chance to turn your windows yellow. Many of them call themselves “ozone” based air cleaners. They run the gambit from crap to somewhat effective, but even the best ones only work in the room where they are placed. If you only have an occasional smoke then a good air purifier might be just what you are after, but for daily smokers these will only drain your wallet along with your electricity.
Mind Your Butts
A single ashtray can stink up a room almost as quickly as a lit cigarette. You can fight this menace by placing an absorbent substance in your ashtrays. This works both inside your home, and in your car. Baking soda works wonderfully, just pour enough in your ash tray to submerge your butts and use it to extinguish and bury the tip of your cigarettes when you are finished with them. This is not going to solve the problem 100%, but it will help. It will not only help diminish the smell of an ashtray full of extinguished butts, but will also draw some of the smoky odor out of the surrounding air. It is certainly a lot cheaper than putting an “ozone generating, state of the art titanium based corona and ultra violet light” air cleaner in every room of your house. Even if you can plug one into the cigarette lighter of your car, you’re still going to need to unplug it to light your next cigarette. Ashtrays with air-tight lids will also do the trick.
Your Clothing and Your Breath
If you find yourself in a situation where you really need to keep your person free of cigarette smoke smell, but you want to light up regardless then here’s what you do. First, smoke outside facing away from the wind, upwind from any other smokers in the vicinity, if you have an overcoat with you, wear it. This will keep most of the smoke away from your clothing. After you’ve finished your stogie, remove your coat and stand out in the wind a little longer to flush your person with fresh air. If it’s not particularly windy, take a brisk walk. As for your breath, the best you can do is brush your teeth, gargle with a strong mouthwash, and follow that up with the strongest mint you can handle.
Fall in Love with a Fellow Smoker
You might as well face it. Your body, your clothes, and most of all your breath are going to smell like cigarettes. Also, your teeth are going to turn a bit yellow. Cigarette smoke can be removed from the body and your clothing with normal washing. You can use whitening toothpaste , brush three times a day, use lots of mouthwash, and visit the dentist daily for professional teeth cleaning and this will remove all traces of cigarette smoke from your body, your clothes, and your breath… until about ten minutes later when you light up your next Marlboro. Cigarette smoke smell can be reduced, and it is a polite thing to try, but as long as you smoke, the problem of their lingering odor will exist, and non-smokers will be unhappy with it. Oh well.
Getting Rid of Cigarette Smoke Smell for Non-Smokers
If you are a non-smoker, and have become the owner of a home, car, book, or sofa that once belonged to a smoker, you are likely here because you want to remove that awful cigarette smoke smell. Here are some suggestions:
Cigarette Smoke Smell in Furniture
- The Fabreeze Controversy When confronted with any odor on furniture, curtains, or bed linens, the natural thing to do is reach for a deodorizer such as Fabreeze. Some argue that this simply masks the odor temporarily and it will return as soon as the spray product evaporates. There have also been reports of breathing problems associated with the use of fabreeze and other deodorizers. Others swear it doesn’t work anyway. It just turns the odor into a disgusting blend of smoke and the great outdoors. If the odor your battling is very weak, it’s worth a try. If it’s strong then don’t even bother.
- Get it Steam Cleaned Cigarette smoke smell in fabrics emanates from tar ash and oil deposits left in it’s fibers. In order to remove the smell, you need to remove these deposits. Unfortunately, when cigarette smoke condenses onto something, the resulting ‘goo’ is very, very stubborn. If you’ve ever cleaned (scraped) this residue off of glass or painted walls you know exactly how stubborn it can be – imagine that same goo stuck in every fiber of the piece of furniture you wish to clean. The bottom line is that household cleaners just won’t cut it, hire some professionals to come and clean it for you. Make sure they use a van-mounted steam cleaner and tell them exactly what your objective is so they can use the appropriate cleaning solution.
- Low Budget? Completely cover the piece of furniture you’re cleaning with baking soda and then rub it and pat it into the fabric so it gets as far into it as possible. Let it sit overnight and then vacuum it all back up.
- Get Rid of it This is not meant to be flip, but sometimes you just have to cut your losses. When cigarette smoke gets deeply enmeshed into the fabric of an ex-smokers favorite couch, there may be nothing that will ever get it out. Unless you enjoy reupholstering furniture, you might just have to throw it away. Better yet, sell it to a smoker.
Removing Cigarette Smoke Smell from Carpets
Carpets aren’t as hard as walls, but they’re still a lot of work.
- Rent a Shampooer Most home improvement stores have carpet shampooer available for rental. Go pick one up, along with a bottle or so of shampoo, and get to work. A good carpet shampooer can remove the cigarette smell, but it may take several passes through each room to get it all. To make your job easier, sprinkle baking soda liberally over your entire carpet the night before you plan on shampooing, and vacuum it up just before using the carpet shampooer.
- Call in the Professionals Give the carpets a serious and professional carpet cleaning . Hire a carpet cleaning company that uses van-mount steam cleaners. Tell them exactly what your goal is so they can use the appropriate cleaning agent when they arrive. If you have furniture to de-smokify, make sure they use smaller upholstery attachments and not the huge vacuum-like wand they use on your carpets.
- Low Budget? Fill a large tub with bicarbonate of soda (baking soda), add a few drops of essential oil and mix well. Lavender smells nice, but the flavor is up to you. Sprinkle the mixture liberally over the carpet, let it sit for at least four hours and then just vacuum it up. Repeat as necessary.
Cleaning Cigarette Smoke Residue from Walls
Cleaning a smoker’s house is a nightmare, brown and yellow stains will be on everything from the windows to that intricate crown molding. Unless you’re willing to hire somebody else for the task, get ready for a lot of work.
- Vinegar Next to Italian salad dressings, this may be vinegar’s most important job. Even if you are going to paint the walls, you still need to clean them first. In a large bowl or bucket mix one cup of white vinegar for every two cups of warm water, then add a scoop of baking soda – it should fizz. Use a sponge mop or brush to wash down your walls and ceilings with it. This solution will make residue much easier to remove and should be easy on your paint too. Follow this up with a vinegar based window washer for windows (can be found in organic grocery stores), and your basic bubbly vinegar/baking soda mix on the window moldings.
- Paint If you’re still not happy with the result, you can attempt the last step again, or just repaint your walls.
Removing Cigarette Smoke Smell from your Car
- Good old Vinegar The same mixture of vinegar and baking soda that you used on the walls inside the house can work on the interior of the car (one cup of white vinegar for every two cups of warm water along with a good scoop of baking soda). Wash down the windows, plastic moldings, and metals with a generous amount on a sponge. Don’t use this on fabric, however. Treat fabric as you would carpet inside – saturate it with baking soda, spray with a diluted solution of essential oil and water (optional), let sit overnight, and vacuum.
- Cigarette Smoke Smell Home Remedies: There are almost as many cigarette smell removal remedies as there are people. Some of the ideas appear to mask the smell with another more powerful odor rather than to remove, so be sure you are going to be happy with the result. Here are some of them:
- Fill a tub with vinegar and place it on the floor in the front seat, close the windows, open the floor vents and turn on the heat full blast. Let the car run in this state for an hour before removing the tub. Another version of this remedy requires hot summer weather and allowing the tub sit on the floor with the windows closed all day.
- Leave an opened bag of charcoal in the car overnight.
- Put a few drops of vanilla extract on a rag and toss it under the seat.
- Put a sliced apple in a cup and set it on the floor. Leave it until it shrivels.
- Sprinkle dry coffee grounds on the floor of the car, let them sit there for a few days and vacuum them up.
- Mix of apple sauce and cinnamon and put it into a jar with holes punched in the lid. Place the jar on the floor of the car.
Which ever method you try, be prepared for several re-applications. You are going to most likely need them. If you have any tips to make this easier, please share them with the rest of us using the form below. Good luck!
Click here for more information on how to get rid of cigarette smell.