Cigarette smoke has a strong smell that seemingly penetrates everything exposed to it. Trace amounts of tar from the tobacco within cigarettes linger in the smoke as it settles. This tar sticks to anything it lands on, leaving residual smoke odour days after exposure. According to Linda Formichelli and Mary Findley, authors of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cleaning," rather than throwing items away, you can take steps to remove smoke odour from most objects.
Wash everything that has a cigarette smoke smell, including your carpets, drapes and even handbags. According to Janet Sobesky, author of "Household Hints for Dummies," while washing will not instantly remove the smoke smell, it will reduce it significantly. Use a strongly scented soap when washing to remove the smoke smell. Dry cleaning will remove cigarette smell from more delicate items and professional carpet cleaners will help remove it from your carpet. If the smell is in a vehicle, professional detailers can wash the surfaces thoroughly.
Soak items that still have a cigarette smell in white vinegar. The acids in vinegar cut through the tar left behind from cigarettes, further removing the smell says Sobesky. While vinegar has a pungent smell as well, it will eventually fade where cigarette smoke will simply linger. After soaking the item in white vinegar, wash it once more.
Allow everything to get some fresh air. According to Kim Woodburn, author of "The Cleaning Bible," after washing and treating with vinegar, the next best thing you can do to remove cigarette smoke is to ventilate the area. Open the widows to your house or car or leave the items outside on a sunny day. Fresh air will help lift away cigarette smoke smell.
Dust everything with baking soda, and allow it to sit for 48 hours and repeat the process if the scent remains. Baking soda will absorb some of the smoke smell so you can wash it away. While baking soda will not treat heavily scented items, it will help remove lingering cigarette smells, writes Woodburn.
- "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cleaning"; Linda Formichelli and Mary Findley; 2006
- "Household Hints for Dummies"; Janet Sobesky; 1999
- "The Cleaning Bible: Kim and Aggie's Complete Guide to Modern Household Management"; Kim Woodburn; 2008
- If you cannot remove the smell from one item, it is best to replace the item so it does not continue to add smoke odours to everything around it.