Advertiser Disclosure

How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Your House

woman feeling fresh and happy, sitting on sofa with laptop computer and air purifier
theskaman306 / Shutterstock

There is little less welcoming than smelling stale smoke in a home, especially when you are a non-smoker. In 2018, 13.8% of American adults were smokers. If you don’t smoke, perhaps a previous occupant of your home did. Our guide will explain how to get smoke smell out of a house and home furnishings quickly.

The cleaning required depends on how long the smoker was in the property and how often they smoked. The odor is third-hand smoke. It can seem to linger everywhere — in the furniture, curtains, and clothing, and even on the walls themselves. But by following this guide, you will know how to get rid of smoke smell in houses for good. We have detailed some easy steps and highlighted the products and tools that can help you.

10 steps for getting rid of smoke smell

These ten easy steps will help you get rid of nasty odors quickly and easily. Once you know how to get smoke smell out of house furnishings and walls, you can keep on top of it.

Step 1: Start by throwing away any items related to smoking

Anything that has had a cigarette in it will keep the offensive smell. Start by throwing away any ashtrays, cigarette butts, packets and lighters.

Step 2: Open up all the windows in the house

A quick start on how to get smoke smell out of house furnishings is to open up all the windows right away. It’s also important to open windows before you start cleaning, so there’s ventilation if you’re using any harsh cleaning products.

Step 3: Increase the air circulation

Use two ventilators to boost air circulation and speed up the removal of the smell. Use one ventilator to push air across the room. Place the second near a window or door to further expel the stale air.

Step 4: Clean all hard surfaces

Make a 50/50 mixture of hot water and white vinegar. Use a spray bottle and some rags to wipe down all hard surfaces. Include decorations, doors, kitchen counters, fan blades, light fixtures, and picture frames. Use a mop and bucket to clean the floor with the same mixture of water and vinegar.

Step 5: Use more robust cleaning products on ceilings and walls

A tried and tested method in how to get rid of smoke smell in house ceilings and walls is to use ammonia. Make a mixture of .5 cups ammonia, .5 cups of baking soda, .25 cups white vinegar, and a gallon of hot water. Use an extension pole or ladder to reach high spots safely to wipe away any yellow stains.

Step 6: Clean carpets and fabric-covered surfaces

Baking soda is a handy household cleaner as it can neutralize odor molecules. Sprinkle it on carpets and fabric surfaces and leave it for a few days. Then vacuum, and if needed, steam-clean your carpet.

Step 7: Machine wash laundry-safe fabrics

Toss any washer-safe cushion covers, curtains, pillow covers, sofa covers, and linens into the machine. Do one wash cycle with .5 cups of white vinegar and then a second cycle with your usual detergent. Let them air dry outside until the house is clean.

Step 8: Replace HVAC air filters and clean air ducts

Replace any HVAC filters that may have accumulated odor molecules. You could also consider using a carbon (activated charcoal) or a HEPA filter to remove odors. Check all air ducts and remove any blockages or dust that might have smoke residue in them.

Step 9: Use an air purifier

An air purifier is an extra measure that can clean the air. Invest in one that has a HEPA filter to further help in eliminating smoke odors.

Step 10: Use an Ozone Generator for a deeper clean

An Ozone Generator is a secret weapon to banishing stubborn odors completely. If used properly, the generator can get rid of all the smoke molecules by oxidizing them.

Products and tools you’ll need to get smoke smell out of your house

  • Spray bottle: Keep a spray bottle handy that you can fill with any homemade mixtures and apply them to hard surfaces safely.
  • White vinegar: You might already have white vinegar in your pantry, or you can buy it from the supermarket. You can use white vinegar to make basic cleaning solutions that work on many surfaces.
  • Ammonia: You can buy ammonia from a hardware store. Please note that ammonia is very toxic, so it is advisable to use gloves when using this product.
  • Baking soda: You might find baking soda in your baking supplies at home. Or buy it from a supermarket. It’s great for making simple cleaning pastes and soaking up odors.
  • Steam cleaner: For deeply soiled or odorous carpets and other appropriate surfaces, buy or rent a steam cleaner.
  • Air filter: Buy a new air filter to replace the existing one harboring smoke molecules.
  • Air purifier: If you want to improve overall air quality, buy or rent an air purifier that has a HEPA filter.
  • Ozone generator: Buy an ozone generator to get rid of the smoke molecules completely.

Don’t want to use chemicals? Here’s how to get smoke smell out of your house naturally

If you’re concerned about toxic or harsh chemicals that may be in some cleaning products, there are several naturally-derived things you can do. Place activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar in a bowl in each room. If you are a coffee lover, you could also use coffee grounds. All these substances can help to absorb odors in a non-invasive way.

You can also mask the smoke smell with vanilla extract. Use a cloth to wipe it over different surfaces in the home, or put some on cotton balls. You can also do the same with essential oils or use scented candles to get rid of the smell. House plants are also excellent at absorbing chemicals and purifying the air. Buy some and place them throughout the house.

The bottom line on how to get smoke smell out of your house

Start by airing out the house in general. Then use robust cleaning products to clean all hard surfaces. Then wash all carpets and any fabric-covered areas. Clean all air ducts and replace air filters. To finish the job, you can follow up with an air purifier and an ozone generator.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of tobacco residue stays in people’s homes?

Research has found that 70%-90% of nicotine and chemicals can remain as residue inside people’s homes.

Does painting a property get rid of the smoke smell?

Because paint is porous, it is tough to get rid of the smoke smell completely from a wall. It’s best to re-paint. Clean the wall first, then use an odor-sealant primer before you start painting.


Man on computer

Everything for your move, all in one place

Curate your personalized moving checklist, set up TV & Internet, and more with a free MYMOVE account.

Get Started

Already have an account? Sign In

View our Privacy Policy

Related Articles

15 House Cleaning Tips That Make Life Easier

Whether you constantly clean your home, or just give it a quick tidy before guests arrive, knowing a few useful cleaning tips can help make the process easier and more efficient. In this article, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most effective house cleaning tips out there.

Read More

How to Test for Mold That’s Hiding In Your House

Mold is a serious potential health hazard that is commonly lurking in all kinds of buildings, residential homes included. Mold can trigger allergic reactions in certain people, causing stuffy sinuses, itchy eyes and skin, difficulty breathing, and even fevers. Other studies have linked the presence of mold in the home with the development of childhood […]

Read More

How To Get Rid of Dust Mites in Your Home and Keep Allergies at Bay

Dust mites in your home are one of the most common allergy and asthma triggers. Because they’re microscopic, it can be tough to identify and figure out how to get rid of dust mites. It’s impossible to get rid of dust mites in your home completely, but there are some steps you can take to limit their numbers, which can reduce allergy symptoms and the chance of asthma attacks.

Read More