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How to Remove Smoke Odor From Electronics

Updated February 21, 2017

Removing smoke odour from electronics requires time for fresh air to circulate around the equipment so the smell can dissipate. Electronic components and the cabinets housing them can absorb smoke, especially from cigarettes and other tobacco products, which are common causes of household smoke odour. Because electronics are delicate and easily damaged by liquids, conventional techniques involving liquid cleansers can not be used for risk of ruining the equipment's internal components. The safest way to get rid of the smoke smell is to air out the electronics and clean the cabinets separately.

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  1. Disconnect the electronics from the power supply and each other, if cleaning smoke odour from a stereo system or other interconnected equipment. Galen Carol Audio recommends unplugging electronics at least 24 hours before cleaning.

  2. Check each component to determine how and where the housing cover attaches to the cabinet. Small Phillips head screws normally are used to connect most electronic components to a cover.

  3. Remove the cover by unscrewing it from the cabinet. Save the screws for each piece of equipment in a separate, resealable plastic bag labelled appropriately.

  4. Spray the inside of the component with short, controlled bursts of compressed air to remove dust and lint that can harbour smoke odors.Take care not to hold the can nozzle too close to electronic parts that could be loosened by the pressurised air. Follow specific instructions on the compressed air container to help prevent damage.

  5. Set the open components in a protected area outdoors--such as under an awning, canopy or large umbrella over a picnic table--on clear days to air out the interior. Fresh air is one of the fastest means with which to remove smoke odours without using liquid cleaners.

  6. If setting the equipment outside is impractical, place the components in a smoke-free room with the windows open, using an electric fan to circulate the air. (Use an air ioniser to purify the air and remove odours to speed up the process.)

  7. Wipe down the metal or plastic component covers inside and out with damp paper towels to remove smoke residue that causes odours. Clean the vent holes with cotton swabs dipped in rubbing alcohol. Since the covers do not hold any electronic parts, they can be cleaned safely with damp towels and allowed to air dry.

  8. Let the components air out until the smoke odour dissipates. The length of time will vary depending upon the condition of the equipment and the smoke exposure, whether from a house fire or a heavy tobacco smoker. Audio components may require two weeks of daily airing before the smell begins to fade. Smaller electronic devices could begin to smell better in a matter of days.

  9. Reattach the cabinets using the screws saved in the plastic bags.

  10. Tip

    Plastic cleaning products are available from office supply stores.

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Things You'll Need

  • Compressed air
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Paper towels
  • Resealable plastic bags
  • Electric fan
  • Cotton swabs
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Electronic air ioniser (optional)


About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.

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