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. 

Amanda Thomas,
Episode #152

Step #3: Use Vinegar on Walls

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, but if there was a significant amount of smoke in the room, it is likely hanging on all the way down the walls - and on the floor, too.

The best thing for removing smoke residue from walls is a vinegar/water mixture. Fill half your bucket with about 75% vinegar and 25% water. If this is too strong for you to smell or touch, you can add a little more water until it’s tolerable to work with.

I would also recommend only filling 1/3 or 1/2 your bucket with this mixture at a time. It is going to get dirty very quickly, so I've found it’s better to use small amounts of cleaning solution and then change it out often, so you have a clean mixture.

Submerge one rag or towel at a time into the mixture, and squeeze it to remove most, but not all, of the liquid. Starting at the top corner of a wall, wipe down an approximately 3 foot-by-3 foot section of the wall, then rinse your rag and repeat on the next section.

When you’ve completed that part of the wall, continue repeating the process around the room until all parts of the wall have been cleaned. If the ceiling of the room is flat, repeat the process across the ceiling, as well.

I've discovered that this step doesn’t need to be done meticulously to be effective. The goal here is just to quickly swipe the walls and leave them with a thin layer of the vinegar mixture to absorb the odor.

I've also tried using a spray bottle of the vinegar mixture to do this part, but I would advise against this method. Spraying the vinegar mixture didn't seem to provide the amount of coverage that the damp rag did, and it was fairly irritating to my senses, buring my my eyes and throat after just a couple minutes.

Step #4: Vacuum the Baking Soda (and Repeat?)

If the smoke smell is still present, repeat the baking soda step. It’s likely that any lingering odor is being trapped in the softer materials, so this step may need to be repeated a couple of times.

After you've wiped down the walls - or when you just need a break from the vinegar smell - move on to vacuuming all the baking soda up from around the room. Use the attachments on furniture and mattresses, and use the roller brush to vacuum the carpet.

At this point, once all the baking soda is vacuumed and the walls are wiped, I’d advise going to get yourself a nice lunch or a cup of coffee. This is not only to treat yourself for a job well done, but also to give your nose a break - so you can evaluate upon your return if the smoke odor has truly been removed from the home.

If it’s still present, repeat the baking soda step. It’s likely that any lingering odor is being trapped in the softer materials, so this step may need to be repeated a couple of times. Luckily it’s the easiest step to do, and is super cheap!

Hopefully, after a couple turns, the odor will be almost completely removed. Leaving your windows open and letting your exhaust fans run for another day or two should help freshen the space right up, too.


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