If you’ve had a smoker in your home, you may be interested in eliminating second hand smoke – including the terrible odor from cigarettes that can linger indefinitely. Your immediate concern may be to eliminate that foul stench from your home. As will also be noted, there are health reasons why you are wise to eradicate second hand smoke from your home and keep it out for good.

Dangers of Second Hand Smoke

Before diving into techniques to eliminate the smell of cigarettes from a house, reflecting for a moment on the dangers of second hand smoke is advisable. Over the course of many, many years, people did not recognize or focus on the inherent dangers of second smoke. Not only does second hand smoke smell awful, it is responsible for over 41,000 deaths in the United States annually, according to the American Lung Association. Of those 41,000 deaths, about 7,300 are from lung cancer while approximately 34,000 are from heart disease. Second hand smoke has also been identified as a cause of strokes.

Even very brief exposure to second hand smoke has been demonstrated to be dangerous. Short exposure to send hand smoke can trigger a heart attack.

Second hand smoke lingering in a residence can also cause respiratory ailments. It can aggravate respiratory conditions already suffered by an individual, including make asthma worse.

Clean the Air in a Residence

A fundamental step in eradicating the smell or smoke (and second hand smoke) from your home is to open it up as much as possible, to thoroughly air out your home. Bear in mind that this will need to be undertaken over a period of time. Merely cracking the windows one time for an hour or two will not do much of anything at all. Opening up a residence is only one strategy you will need to employ to clean the air in your home. In fact, although airing out a home – multiple times – is important, you’re not likely to see much of an improvement initially.

As part of cleaning the air in your residence to eliminate the stench of smoke you also need to change the filters in your heating and air conditioning systems. These filters will have trapped airborne residue associated with cigarettes and will keep circulating the odor associated with cigarettes throughout your home.

Consider investing in a portable air purifier that you can roll or otherwise move from one room to another. An air purifier is effective at eliminating the smell of cigarette smoke from a residence and is helpful in bringing the air in your home to a healthier state.

Place a bowl of white vinegar in each room of your residence. White vinegar is effective at deodorizing indoor air, including eliminating the smell of cigarettes. As an aside, white vinegar is a safe air deodorizing alternative if you have furry family members or children in your home.

You will also want to consider boiling orange or lemon peels to combat to stench of cigarette smoke in your home. This traditional means of combating cigarette smoke is known to produce solid results on a consistent basis.

Clean Walls and Ceilings

Eliminating foul cigarette odor from your home is not just about clearing the air. The grim reality is that cigarette smoke and its wicked odor becomes infused into walls and ceilings of rooms in your home. In fact, a myriad of objects in your home can become infused with the foul odor of cigarette smoke.

An effective agent to use on cleaning walls to eliminate cigarette odor (as well as the grime that can accumulate s a result of smoking) is a chlorine bleach mixture. You undoubtedly understand that undiluted bleach has the ability to damage color items which come in contact with it. Thus, when using bleach to eliminate cigarette odor from the walls and ceilings of your home, you need to dilute it with water. The minimum level that you can dilute bleach with water for effective use is 1-part bleach to 9-parts water. You should never go beyond 1-part bleach to 3-parts water; doing so can be a recipe for disaster.

Before embarking on cleaning your walls and ceilings in your home, make certain that the bleach mixture does not damage the paint or other coating or covering on your walls. Apply the mixture to an out of sight spot on a wall. Leave mixture in place for 20 minutes and then examine the results.

The process of cleaning walls and ceilings with bleach begins with wiping them down with the prepared mixture. The bleach mixture can be left in place on the surfaces wiped by you for five to 10 minutes. After that time, you will want to rinse the surfaces using lean towels and fresh water.

Bear in mind that one pass over walls and ceilings with this process may not be enough to undo the cigarette stench. After this cleaning process, allow the surfaces to dry thoroughly. If you can still smell cigarette smoke at this juncture, you will need to repeat the process. Even if the smoke odor appears to be eliminated in the fairly immediate aftermath of the cleaning process, you will want to check to see if there is any odor after two or three days have passed. If there is, you will want to repeat the cleaning process yet again.

If you are diligent in taking this approach to eliminating the smell of cigarette smoke from walls and ceilings but do not prevail in getting rid of the stench, the time has arrived to repaint the walls and ceilings. Before painting you will want to apply a sealant to the surfaces to trap the stench.

Clean Carpets

Carpets are notorious for trapping the smell of cigarette smoke. You can attempt to eliminate cigarette smoke odor from carpets in your home using available chemicals and cleaners. With that said, if you are like many people, you may find that readily available products and equipment may not be sufficient to remedy carpet infused with the odor of cigarette smoke. Thus, you may need to consider seriously engaging the services of a professional smoke cleaning or smoke remediation service.

Clean Drapes

The simplest course in addressing drapes in your home that have become infused by cigarette smoke odor is to take them to a professional cleaner. Depending on what they are made of, you may be able to effectively eliminate smoke odor from your drapes. This may be accomplished by washing your drapes at home in a mixture or laundry detergent and vinegar.

Depending on the size of your washing machine, and the level of odor you face, add ½ to a full cup of white vinegar to the water. You can also pre-soak drapes in a white vinegar and water mixture. In this case, use ½ cup of white vinegar for every gallon of water as a pre-soak. Keep in mind that white vinegar does have bleaching properties. Thus, you will want to test it on a hidden spot of the drapes to verify that it won’t harm the fabric.

As an aside, blinds can be wiped down in the same manner and with the same precaution as was used for floors and ceilings.

Clean Uncarpeted Floors

Depending on what uncarpeted floors are made of you can use a similar cleaning process as was utilized on walls and ceilings to eliminate cigarette smoke. If you use a bleach mixture, you will want to test it on an out of the way spot on the floor to ensure it doesn’t damage the flooring.

You need to take particular care with higher-end tile and hardwood floors. If you’ve these types of floor in your home, understand that they may be more susceptible to damage from a bleach or even vinegar mixture. 

Clean Clothing

When it comes to clothing anywhere in your home, wash it all. This includes “clean clothing” hanging in closets or stored in drawers that you’ve not worn for some time. The reality is that if you are intent on completely eliminating the smell of cigarette smoke from your home, you must tend to clothing items (as well as bed linens and towels). Note: You may need to subject your clothing and similar items to multiple laundry cycles to completely eradicate the odor from cigarette smoke.

Combating cigarette smoke smell in your home can require all-out cleaning combat. If there remains a person who lives in your home who smokes and refuses to take it outside, the stench associated with cigarette smoke will return … almost instantly.


Emily Kil

Co-Owner of Eco Bear Biohazard Cleaning Company

Together with her husband, Emily Kil is co-owner of Eco Bear, a leading biohazard remediation company in Southern California. An experienced entrepreneur, Emily assisted in founding Eco Bear as a means of combining her business experience with her desire to provide assistance to people facing challenging circumstances. Emily regularly writes about her first-hand experiences providing services like biohazard cleanup, suicide cleanup, crime scene cleanup, unattended death cleanup, and other types of difficult remediations in homes and businesses.