6 Tips for Removing Smoke Odor from Your Home
Whether you've had a visitor who disregarded your home’s no smoking rule, or are moving into a new space that previously housed a smoker, you'll want to get the stink out ASAP. Domestic CEO details 6 steps to help remove the noxious smell from your home.
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Recently, one of the vacation rentals my husband manages was rented to a smoker. The guest had stayed about 2 weeks and had blatantly ignored the “No Smoking” sign that sits prominently in the living room.
But as frustrated as we were by the lack of respect for the home and our rules, we knew that - more importantly - we had to get the smoke smell out of the home before the next guests arrived.
Using some ideas I had and some that I researched, I put together a plan of attack. Then my husband and I worked together using the 6 steps I’m going to share with you, and within about 48 hours, the smoke smell was completely gone from the house.
So whether you had a visitor who disregarded your home’s no smoking rule, or are moving into a new space that previously housed a smoker, following these steps will help you remove the noxious smell for good.
The first 4 steps I detail below are inexpensive and should remove the residue from a short-time smoker. The last 2 are more costly, but should do the trick for removing the scent from even long-time smoke exposure.
First things first: open up all the windows in your home and turn on as many fans as you can. This will help to start airing out the home while you do the rest of the cleaning.
Next, gather your supplies. You'll need:
- Vinegar. At least a gallon.
- Baking soda.
- Clean rags/towels. You’ll go through a bunch, so stock up, You can pick up some in the automotive section of your local supermarket or go for microfiber.
- Colander or strainer
- Ozone Machine. This is only for extreme cases.
Step #1: Use Vinegar on Fabrics
If you’ve ever gone to a smoky bar, you were probably reminded of your outing the morning after - when you could still smell smoke on your clothes. The same thing applies to the fabrics in your home, which will hold onto any lingering smoke from your rule-breaking guests.
While it might not necessarily be practical, or possible, to remove all the fabric from your home (a couch can be a beast to move to the patio!), do remove all the fabric items you can from the smelly room. This includes any pillows, bedding, blankets, and curtains. If you have a large washing machine, you can throw all these through a cold wash cycle with 2 cups of vinegar added to the load..
See also: How to Use Vinegar to Clean Your Home
Then, whatever you do, do not use high heat to dry them; from my research, the heat seems to reactivate the smoke smell, and even sets it into the fabric. Instead, use a low heat or fluff cycle - or, if you have the ability to line dry them in the sun, that will be even more effective in removing the odor.
For larger, bulkier items, you may need to enlist the help of your local dry cleaner. Bag up all the smelly items and take them to the cleaners, and make sure to let them know that you need help removing the smoke smell, so they can work their professional magic on the items.
This is also helpful for delicate items like curtains and window treatments. Window treatments aren’t cheap, so it’s better to get professional help than risk shrinking or damaging them in your washer.
Once the fabric items have been washed and the odor has been removed, the last thing you want to do is bring them back into a smoky home. So put them in large garbage bags and store them in an alternate location until you are able to complete the next few steps to remove the odor from the rest of the home.
Quick note: The next 3 steps need to be completed in a relatively quick manner. If you do one without doing the others, the odor will get redistributed around the home. If multiple rooms have been affected by the smoke, work on one room at a time, then do your best to seal the clean room off to prevent the yucky odor from drifting in from other areas.
Step #2: Use Baking Soda on Carpets and Furniture
After you’ve removed the majority of small, soft items from the room, you will likely be left with large items like furniture, mattresses, and carpet. For these items, baking soda is going to be your best friend.
Your goal is to sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on all the soft surfaces in your home. The easiest way I've found to do this is to use a 2-cup liquid measuring cup and a large colander. Fill the measuring cup with baking soda, then carry it to the area you want to sprinkle. Pour some baking soda into the colander, then shake the colander over the carpet or fabric. This will help you disperse it evenly over the surface.
Continue to move around the room until all carpet, fabric, furniture, and mattresses are covered in a layer of baking soda. It should look like you have a thin layer of snow in the room.
Whether it’s from cigarettes or a candle, smoke leaves a greasy residue on walls and the ceiling, as it floats through the air and settles on the first hard surface it comes in contact with. The majority of the residue attaches to high areas like the upper half of walls and the ceilings.
Next, let the baking soda work its magic by letting it sit for about 30-60 minutes. During this time, you can help work the baking soda in to the soft surfaces by gently rubbing your hand over the mattress or fabric, or by walking around the carpeted room with socks on your feet.
Try to keep moisture (including dog drool and oils from your feet) from touching the baking soda, as they can create a paste that isn’t as easy to remove.
While the baking soda is absorbing odors from the soft surfaces, it’s time to clean the hard surfaces.