Smoke billowing up to smoke detector

Tips for Removing the Smell of Smoke from a House

The smell of day old clothing after sitting beside a campfire all night with friends or rising odors from burnt food in the oven doesn’t even come close to the pungent odor of cigarette smoke embedded deep within the structure of a home. Cigarette smoke has more to it than just a foul odor, it holds chemicals that move through the air even after the smoke cloud is long gone. Even when smoking out a window, the warmth of the smoke makes it rise, causing unwanted chemicals to enter and seep into places you hadn’t intended. These chemicals permeate materials including fabrics, painted walls, carpets, wood etc. Smoke certainly compromises the homes air quality so if you’ve located your dream home but discovered that the previous resident was a smoker and the smell has enveloped the home; know that while it’s a fixable problem, it will require some patience and a lot of hard work!

Refresh the air

When given the chance, let the fresh air move through the home. Open all the windows/doors and turn on any fans to help blow out the stale air. While this won’t extinguish the smell, it will help the air quality itself. You can also place bowls of white vinegar in every room of the home (keeping it out of reach of children and pets of course). Vinegar works great against many foul odors, smoke included. Vinegar is an acetic acid that neutralizes alkaline odors and helps create a fresher environment. An air purifier will also help clean the air, but it can be a tedious process as you’ll likely have to do one room at a time.

Disinfect wall and ceilings

As we all know, smoke rises, so the particles can easily attach themselves to the walls and ceilings requiring a deep and thorough cleaning in order to eliminate any lasting odors. Take your time and do one room at a time. Use cleaning products that contain ammonia or glycol. Scrubbing down the walls and ceilings will go a long way in removing the smell but if it’s not as successful as you had hoped, your best next option is to apply a fresh coat of paint. If repainting becomes necessary, use a primer that is designed to seal in odors, as this will help in giving your home its fresh new scent.

Clean flooring and furniture

Carpets are very absorbent and smoke particles can easily become embedded in the carpet’s fibers. The same goes for furniture. The best way to clean and remove smoke from these absorbent surfaces is through the use of baking soda. Baking soda is capable of standing against the detrimental effects of smoke on carpets and furniture. Sprinkle baking soda on all furniture fabrics and carpets and allow it to sit for a good length of time, the whole day if possible, as you’ll want to give the baking soda plenty of time to work its magic before vacuuming it up. If the smell continues to linger even after a few rounds of baking soda treatment, it may be time to call the professionals to thoroughly refresh your home. If you are dealing with years of smoke damage it may even be most beneficial to replace the carpets completely. As far as the harder surfaces like wood floors or furniture; you can scrub them down with either bleach water or vinegar water. You’ll want to do this a few times to be sure that you’ve removed any lasting film causing the odors to linger.

Wash windows, drapes and blinds

Windows are easy enough to clean but be sure to pay extra attention to the window frames and sills. You can use white vinegar and water to wash any plastic blinds. We recommend actually soaking the blinds in vinegar water before scrubbing them down giving you a little extra bang for all that elbow grease! The window screens will also need a thorough washing which is best done by removing them and placing them in a tub, with water and dish soap which will be gentle on the mesh. Be sure to let the window screens air dry before putting them back on. As far as any drapes, you can simply wash them in hot water adding a little vinegar to the washer before running it.

Cleaning up a smoke infested home can be a strenuous and exhausting process, but it can be done, leaving you with a fresh smelling, smoke-free home. If the task of removing the smoke yourself is too overwhelming, call Advanced Water Restoration. We’ll send out our professionals who have all the knowledge, skill, and equipment to permanently clear your home of smoke and its lingering effects.