How to Get Smoke Smell out of Your House (with Pictures)

How to wash walls to get rid of smoke smell

Although many homeowners swear by using an ammonia mixture to remove smoke smells, there are natural alternatives to harsh chemicals that you can try first. According to Fiona, "A less harsh but also effective method is to mix a good Castile soap with water and essential oils of your choice, and then scrub the walls with a microfiber cloth."

Tip: You can also make a mixture using ½ cup baking soda, ¼ cup white vinegar, and hot water. This will also help remove any stains on the walls that may be contributing to bad odors. Follow these steps to clean the walls, including making sure the sponge or cloth you're using is just barely damp, not soaking wet, to reduce drips on the wall.


Removing cigarette smell from your clothing

Even if you go outside to smoke, you’re bound to bring a cigarette smell back inside with you, unless you remove it immediately from clothes and shoes. If you don’t wash your clothing after each use, your closet will also smell like cigarettes. These solutions can help:

Machine or hand-wash with baking soda

  • Wash your clothing in regular detergent with a cup of baking soda added. Let it line dry if possible. If one washing isn’t enough to eliminate the odor, wash as many times as needed prior to drying in a machine. Dryers can bake the smell in, making it harder to remove.
  • You can add baking soda to soapy water to hand wash delicate items.

Use dryer sheets

If you need to remove cigarette smell from your clothing in a pinch, rubbing a dryer sheet on each entire garment you have on will help. Don’t forget hats, scarves, gloves, shoes, or boots.

Try a deodorizing spray

Spraying your clothing with an air freshener made for fabric, or with a spray-on antiperspirant, is another way to remove cigarette odor from clothing. This hack may be overpowering, however, given that you need to spray the entire garment in order to get results.

Mask the odor

Essential oil sprays won’t absorb thirdhand smoke smell, but certain scents may be effective at masking it to some degree. These include orange, grapefruit, eucalyptus, and lavender.

Don’t put undiluted essential oils directly on your skin.

Step 2 Air Out the House

The first thing you should do to eliminate the smoke smell after a house fire is to circulate fresh air. Turn off your air conditioning to prevent the same smokey air from circulating throughout the house. You also want to gather several fans to place strategically in doors and windows. Open every door and window you can, and let the house air out for a few hours. 

If the smell of the smoke is overpowering and persistent, you can blow out each room of the house with some positive pressure. Follow these steps:

  • Open the front door to let in the fresh air and set up a large fan facing into the house.
  • Close all but one window or door in the room where you are working.
  • Turn on the fan to the highest speed to force the smokey air out the door. This method will force fresh air into the room through the window via an exhaust fan.
  • Blow the area for at least fifteen minutes.
  • When you’ve finished, close the window and door to that room and repeat the process for each additional room until you have adequately aired the house.

This process will likely help the odor start to dissipate, but it will not remove smoke smell altogether. The only way to remove smoke smell entirely is to clean every item and household surface in the home.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Does smoke smell ever go away?

Smoke particles are microscopic, and will generally penetrate all the surfaces of a home. Tobacco smoke is often deeply embedded in a home thanks to the HVAC system, circulating the smoky air throughout the home. While it’s certainly frustrating, we found that with a variety of methods plus the use of volcanic rock, the smoke smell in both of our homes was eliminated for good!

What essential oil removes smoke smell? While I love the fragrances of essential oils, they won’t absorb or eliminate smoke smell. However, these oils may be effective in helping to mask the smoke smell over time. Try lavender or Eucalyptus for a fresh, subtle scent that might help to overpower the stale smoke smell.

Change the HVAC Filter—A Lot

Smoke can get into the ductwork, so it’s important to try to remove the particles there. While hiring a professional cleaning service is best, DIYers can handle the job by replacing the existing filter and running the air conditioner or furnace fan. Change the first filter within a day or two, and then once again by the end of the week.

This should eliminate much of the smoke smell from the ductwork, but if the odor lingers, repeat the process. Not hot enough to run the air conditioner or cold enough for the furnace? Set the air conditioner to the fan position just so the air circulates.

With a thorough cleaning, DIYers should be able to remove the majority of smoke particles. While it’s a lot of hard work, clearing your home of any smokiness can be one of the first steps toward putting a painful memory behind you.

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.

What Does My Timeline Look Like?

Start figuring out how you’re going to tackle odor removal as soon as you are possibly able. Unfortunately, the longer you wait, the more persistent you’ll find the fire smoke. Of course, take some time to recover your spirit and mental state before getting started. But you should try to begin the recovery process a few days after the blaze has cleared.

Depending on the steps you take, and how diligent you are in combating the smoke particles, your odor removal timeline could range anywhere from two weeks to a month. But, remain patient since your house fire is unique. A precise timeframe will come from your assessment and which steps you determine to be most useful.

What Steps Can I Take to Clean Up My Home?

After analyzing your place and deciding to do what you can to clean up yourself, you’re probably wondering how to get started. The tips below are a great way to get started, but you might need to take additional steps or do further research on smoke odors.

Before getting started, you’ll want to make sure you have the right cleaning products. Though scented candles might seem like an easy fix, the smoke smell won’t go away. Among other things, you’ll want to have baking soda, white vinegar, dish soap, and warm water. You’ll also want to have rags, vacuums, and trash bags on hand to get rid of things.

Step 1: Remove Household Items

Before beginning the clean-up process, you’ll want to remove as many household items as possible. Whatever smells like fire smoke should be moved outside. Separate your belongings into two categories, salvageable and destroyed. Be honest with yourself, if it’s too much of a hassle to clean the smoke odors, put it in the damaged pile.

Items that can’t be recovered include carpets, wallpaper, building materials, and insulation. Furniture, clothing, and linens can be cleaned offsite and should be removed as soon as possible to remove smoke smell. Leave the objects out in the fresh air to help lift the stink. The fewer objects with smoke particles left in your space, the easier your odor removal will be.

Step 2: Open All Your Windows and Doors

The fresher air you let into your space; the more smoke particles will be pushed out. If you can, open your windows and doors wide. Make sure that the weather is neither too hot nor too cold since bad weather can make the smoke smell worse.

Use fans to keep the fresh air flowing through your home or even just open all the windows to let fresh air in while you start cleaning. You want to prioritize keeping the air quality of your space high to get rid of smoke odors.

Step 3: Jump on the Ventilation Game, Properly

Make yourself a ventilation system by setting up an exhaust fan at your front door. Face the fan towards your interior to suck as much outdoor air into your space as possible. Ozone generators are also an exceptionally manageable way to clean the smoke odors from your home.

Step 4: Consider Your Options

Once your furniture and any items with a lingering smoke odor are off the property, and you have a ventilation system in place, the cleaning can commence. We’ve listed four courses of action available for you. Decide which works best for you, or if none of them seem applicable, feel free to do further research.

  • DIY Cleaning

If you ready to remove smoke smell from your property by yourself, you’ll want to make sure you have the right tools. Before anything else, sprinkle baking soda on all the surfaces you are going to clean. The powder helps to lift smoke smells and any residue. Afterward, rub white vinegar and warm water on the surfaces slowly. After a couple of minutes, the stain and odor should clear. Alternatively, you can utilize dish soap to remove stains.

  • Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning is a relevantly cheap alternative to hand washing all your clothing and smaller items. Keep in mind that your local dry cleaner will not be able to restore larger furniture items. Also, be prepared to wait a while for the company to complete your smoke odor removal order.

  • House Tent Fumigation

Though more generally utilized to get rid of insects, house tents can also clear fire smoke residue. In this scenario, you’ll want to combine an ozone generator with your tent to eliminate the odor from items that can’t be taken to the dry cleaners.

For this method, renting a machine will cost you less than purchasing the product for one-time use.

  • Thermal Fogging Machine

A thermal fogging machine uses pressurized air to disperse deodorant droplets throughout your home and remove smoke smell. If you are interested in utilizing this machinery, you should consider calling a professional.

Let the House Air Out

The first step in eliminating smoky smells is to provide as much ventilation as possible. Open windows and doors so air can move freely throughout the home. Place box fans in windows and allow them to run for several hours to increase circulation. Letting exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms run is a good idea, as well.

Just doing this alone should make being inside the house a bit more bearable. If the smell is too much to handle, it may be worth calling in a professional service to tackle the job. If the odor doesn’t overpower you, keep the windows open and move on to cleaning the rest of the home.

Step 4 Repaint the Walls

The last thing you’ll need to do to get smoke odors out of your house is to repaint the walls. You may not know it, but paint absorbs odors. If it’s the paint that retains the smoke odor, repainting the walls is the best course of action.

  • Wash your walls with a cleaning solution that has ammonia or glycol. Both of these substances are great at neutralizing odors. After cleaning, make sure you rinse the walls thoroughly and let them dry before proceeding to the next step.
  • Apply an odor-locking primer to the wall. You can find these at any home improvement store. These kinds of primers have a unique formula that kills difficult odors (not just fire smoke but also pet urine, food, and cigarette and cigar smoke). Allow the primer to dry before the next step.
  • Paint over the primer with latex paint to seal everything. Allow drying entirely before hanging anything on the wall or putting furniture back into place.

Fire may be a devastating event to happen to your home, but cleaning up and repainting your walls can remove smoke odors and restore a sense of control.


The takeaway

Thirdhand smoke from cigarettes leaves a strong smell in the air, which may be more apparent and distasteful to nonsmokers. This smell is not only unpleasant, it’s also dangerous to health.

You can reduce thirdhand smoke cosmetically, but the best way to eliminate it completely is by not smoking.

The number of programs and methods to help you stop smoking has grown dramatically in recent years. Speak with your healthcare provider or check online for options to help you quit.


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