How to Remove Cigarette Smoke Smell From a House

Written by julie christensen
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How to Remove Cigarette Smoke Smell From a House
Think twice before smoking indoors. (cigarette image by Tsvetomila Mitva from

Cigarettes leave more than just smoke in a room. According to Jeff Bishop, technical adviser for the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification, tobacco smoke is one of the most difficult odours to remove from a home. Smoke particles are so tiny (0.01 to 1 micron) that they permeate every surface. Cigarette smoke leaves dingy nicotine stains on hard surfaces, causes respiratory symptoms in people, and can even make your home harder to sell. Bishop says there are four steps to removing cigarette odour: "remove the source, clean all surfaces, neutralise remaining odours, and use sealants."

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Ammonia cleaner
  • Clean cloths
  • Bucket
  • Vacuum
  • Sealer
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Ozone generator (available for rental at janitorial supply or hardware stores)

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  1. 1

    Remove all ashtrays from the home, and insist that smokers smoke outside.

  2. 2

    Vacuum furniture thoroughly. Hire a professional cleaner to clean draperies and upholstery.

  3. 3

    Scrub all hard surfaces, such as tile floors, countertops and walls, with an ammonia-based cleaner. Dilute the ammonia according to package directions in a bucket of water, and scrub surfaces thoroughly with a clean cloth or scrub brush.

  4. 4

    Professionally clean carpets to remove cigarette odour.

  5. 5

    Seal walls with a stain-resistant primer, and paint walls with an enamel paint using a paint brush or paint roller. Apply two or three coats for best results.

  6. 6

    Clean heating ducts to remove nicotine residue from the heating system. According to Bishop, this is one of the most important steps in removing cigarette smoke odour.

  7. 7

    Rent an ozone generator. These machines convert oxygen into ozone, destroying odours. Remove all animals, plants and people from the home while running the ozone generator.

Tips and warnings

  • You might not be able to completely remove odours from soft surfaces, including carpet and upholstery. Replacing these might be the best option.
  • Removing odours from wood furniture is difficult. Clean them thoroughly with a wood-safe cleaner. Prime and paint them.
  • For minor cigarette odours, place bowls of vinegar or deactivated charcoal in rooms.

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