Tips on How to Remove Cigarette Smell from your Home

elegant woman lightening cigarette

Cigarette smell. It is something that tends to get into everything from your hair and skin to the walls, finishes, and furniture in your home. Nobody wants to have to live in a home that smells of stale cigarettes, not even smokers. Whether you are renting, buying a new home formerly inhabited by smokers, or are a smoker but detest the stale smell of cigarettes, we’ll give you the best tips on how to remove cigarette smell from your property. 

Everyone has something to say about smokers, about how they should quit, about how it’s terrible for you, and about how they are wasting their hard-earned money on something that is incredibly bad for their health. The truth is that most smokers know all of that. Trust me. We are well aware of the impact smoking has on our physical health. We know all about clogged arteries, negative lung impact, and everything else you could think of. We know because we are affected by that. However, whether a smoker decides to quit is up to them, which is why we will not get into all that in this article. But the effects of second and third-hand cigarette smoke can be dealt with.

Article Summary:

Limit Exposure to Second and Third-hand Smoke

asian woman smoking near me

While distancing yourself from second-hand smoke by staying away from smokers isn’t always effective because public places aren’t cigarette smoke-free, especially if you’re dating a smoker. Second-hand smoke is the direct result of a burning cigarette and the smoke emitted by smokers’. Still, you can limit exposure to cigarette smoke by simply limiting your contact with smokers.

Third-hand smoke is the more long-lasting side-effect of cigarette smoke. This type of smoke comes from objects, surfaces, or other elements that can absorb cigarette smoke over time. These elements can retain cigarette smoke due to other air pollutants and be transported from one place to another. Here you can think of furniture, carpets, or other textile elements that you get already infused with smoke, or if you simply go to someone’s house that doesn’t efficiently deal with cigarette smoke. Maybe you recall how your clothes smelled after going to a bar or club before smoking was prohibited in public indoor spaces. It’s the same thing. Third-hand smoke is the most difficult to eliminate, and traditional cleaning methods aren’t effective. 

How to Remove Cigarette Smell?

plastic bucket cleaning

Now that we got that out of the way let’s see what we can do to get rid of cigarette smell. As a smoker, I believe that I have a good amount of experience with cigarette smoke. It’s terrible, and while there are smokers that are used to it, whenever a non-smoker or even a smoker with better air freshening techniques comes to their home, people might comment on it. I, for one, don’t like the smell of stale cigarette smoke. It’s a smell I have had to deal with since I was a child as my parents both smoked, but it only started to bother me once I became a smoker. And before you say anything, no, I did not start to smoke because of them.

Still, once I became aware of the stale smell of cigarette smoke, I couldn’t take it anymore, and even one cigarette made me open windows, lit up candles and incense sticks. I can’t stand it. So I looked into ways to ensure that my new apartment doesn’t stink. 

I recently moved into my own apartment, and once the smell of paint vanished, I wanted to ensure that the smell of cigarettes won’t replace it. The fact that I’m slightly compulsive about cleanliness probably helped, but I discovered there is more than one way to ensure that the smell of cigarettes does not take over my flat and that my clothes don’t smell of it. So, how do you deal with cigarette smell?

How to Remove Cigarette Smell from Your House?

office table desk with coffee and cigarette

The first thing you have to understand is that the key to dealing with cigarette smell is that you remove it, not cover it. Anything that teaches you ways on how to cover cigarette smell or what absorbs cigarette smell isn’t something you should look into. Anything that absorbs cigarette smell traps it, and in a matter of minutes, hours, or days, depending on how much you smoke, you will have to replace it. As a sustainability advocate, I can not promote methods that need constant replacement. So, trapping it is not something I suggest. Not to mention that it still retains cigarette smoke, so how is it different from a couch infused with cigarette smoke?

As a smoker, I already mentioned I use incense and candles to make my home smell like lavender for example, but while they cover the smell, the way you use them is essential. Most respectable incense and candle producers will advise users to open a window while using them. Those scents, especially synthetic ones, aren’t healthy, but trust me on this, the natural ones can also be damaging without an open window. So, if you use incense or candles, make sure you open the window or have some form of air circulating system. 

Something else that is often used to cover cigarette smell is perfume, air fresheners, or odorizers. Due to the chemicals they contain, I stay away from them. So what can you do to remove the cigarette smell from your home? Well … let’s see!

Absorb Cigarette Smell from your House

small white bowl cosmetics

While covering cigarette smoke isn’t effective or healthy, absorbing it is an incredibly effective option. Furthermore, if you do not continue adding more smoke to the environment you are treating, this is an effective way to remove the cigarette smell from your home and all the toxic effects it can have on your family’s health. The most attractive thing about the following methods is that you don’t even have to spend a small fortune to make it happen, as all the ingredients are commonly used in any household.

  • Vinegar – mix vinegar and lemon juice in a bottle and use it as you would any air freshener. Similarly, you can just pour vinegar into bowls in areas where people smoke and leave it overnight. By morning the smell of cigarette smoke will be gone. If you’re wondering how to remove cigarette smell from a room and an added exercise, if you will, dampen a cloth with vinegar and wave it around the room for a few minutes. You can also use vinegar to wipe down hard or smooth surfaces as it dissolves any cigarette residue and nicotine due to its acidic properties. What vinegar can not do, however, is altogether remove all cigarette smoke traces from carpets.
  • Activate charcoal and baking soda – Another tip for how to remove cigarette smell from a room is either putting baking soda or activated charcoal in bowls or sprinkling the powders on surfaces. If you want to remove the smell of cigarette smoke from small items, place a bit of either powder in a closed container with the item, but make sure that the item doesn’t touch the powders.
  • Coffee grounds – if you like to wake up to the smell of coffee and have been wondering how to get rid of cigarette smell in your apartment, you’ll love this tip. Fill several coffee filters with freshly ground coffee and place them in the areas where the smell of cigarette smoke is most prominent. This is an excellent option for smokers, especially if you try limiting your smoking to one room.

Let Nature Do What it Does Best

grey modern scandinavian living room

While dealing with the smell of cigarette smoke isn’t always the most pleasant of experiences, one thing that people tend to forget is that the best way to deal with a bad odor in the air is to use something that does that for a living. Quite literally. As we all know, plants absorb carbon dioxide from the air and release oxygen which is why we all can breathe easier when in nature but not so well when in a city’s downtown area, especially if there are little to no trees nearby. We’re not going to get into how we should pester government representatives to plant more trees and create more green spaces in our cities. What we are going to say is that you can do that in your home. 

As plants use carbon dioxide to create air to survive, you can use their photosynthesis process to remove the cigarette smell from your home. If you’re anything like me and aren’t good at keeping plants alive, but you want a cleaner environment in your home, look into the following plants for their air purification properties and low-maintenance needs: Aloe Vera, Pothos, Philodendron, Snake Plant, or Boston Fern. If, however, you don’t have a problem with keeping plants alive, go nuts and the air around your home will feel fresher in no time. Still, opening windows when smoking is something you should combine with air cleaning processes.

Use Technology to Get Rid of Cigarette Smell from your House

air purifier living room

While the section above best suits occasional smokers, these options prove most effective for avid smokers. Especially if you live in an apartment building at a higher level or are struggling with cold or scorching weather and opening windows aren’t viable options, these will work in the most challenging conditions. The room in which I smoke is well ventilated. However, when temperatures drop below 41°F and heating is on or climbs above 95°F, and the AC is on, I tend to close the windows. Still, as I continue to smoke in that room, the best investment I made is an air purifier. 

Smokers need to consider that second or third-hand smoke isn’t entirely eliminated with an air purifier, and non-smokers will still be affected by it. This means that while a smoker can deal with using an air purifier, a mixed household or a household with children should not rely on them.

  • Carbon – These filters are used to remove gases by trapping them through a bed of activated charcoal. This bed of activated charcoal contains tiny pores that capture VOCs from smoke. The filters, however, need to be changed regularly and do not remove dangerous carbon monoxide from your home, so use them accordingly and add a carbon monoxide detector if necessary.
  • PECO – The Molekule air purifier technology used by PECO can remove larger smoke particles and destroy gaseous volatile organic compounds of smoke. 
  • HEPA – This technology captures 99.97% of particles 0.3 microns in size through mechanical filtration. The capacity of these air purifiers depends on manufacturers and models, having multiple options to choose from depending on the size of the area you want to purify. This is the model I use (Xiaomi), and I can say that even if the model is on the more affordable side of the market, it does its job very effectively.

Stale Cigarette Smoke Contamination

air pollutants concept

Let’s say you visit the home of an avid smoker that chose to paint their entire home white. I assure you that in a few months, you can already see the slight yellowing of the cigarette smoke making its way onto the walls, ceiling, and even flooring (the fact that you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there). Third-hand smoke results from resin and tar that are eliminated with each lit cigarette, and they tend to stick to everything in the vicinity. Another thing that does this is heat from electrical equipment attached to walls or candles, among other things.

Cigarette smoke contamination varies depending on how much the space’s inhabitant smoked indoors. Based on this, we might only have to wash the walls or altogether change the wallpaper, throw out items, and invest more money into the space. Simply put, if you walk into a room that smells like an ashtray, get ready to put some extra effort, time, and money into cleaning it.

More Thorough Methods to Rid your Home of Cigarette Smell

how is the air quality in your home concept

This section is especially dedicated to non-smokers that recently moved into a property that used to be inhabited by smokers. For this, a thorough cleaning will be necessary to eliminate the stale smell of cigarette smoke. Especially when it comes to third-hand smoke, getting out of a house can be more challenging but not impossible to do.

Whether you are a new homeowner or moved to a rental property, in both cases, you will deal with third-hand smoke – the one that gets into furniture, floors, walls, and ceilings. A complete renovation isn’t always necessary, and with how inflation is going, it might not be an option for many of us. I know that it’s cheaper to clean something old than to replace it with something new, but it is also a lot more sustainable, eco-friendly, and budget-friendly, which is why I’m here to share as much of what I learned during my recent remodel with you as possible.

In the following section, we’ll cover the best tips on how to remove cigarette smoke from your home. Depending on how intense the smell of cigarette smoke is, you might be able to fix it by only using one of these tips, or several, plus repetition might be required, especially if you pick up the nasty habit. Yes, as a smoker, I can call it a bad habit.

First thing’s first – Hard Surfaces

male employee wiping edges

When it comes to hard surfaces, you shouldn’t limit yourself to furniture as that might not be something you have to worry about if you bought the home without any. Walls, as mentioned above, retain a lot of third-hand smoke as tar or resin. This causes the slight coloration we discussed above and retains the smell no matter how much you air out the space. Scrubbing is necessary, and in case you paint, you will need to use a kind of paint that prohibits odor transfer or a thorough cleaning instead.

The first step is to open all windows if you can, as well as doors to provide the best natural ventilation possible while you clean. We mentioned vinegar as a great natural and easily accessible ingredient for air purifiers, but you can also use it to scrub the walls. Mix a bottle of half and half vinegar and hot water to wipe any hard surface. Here include any furniture that remains in the home, flooring, tiles, windows, and doors. 

The second step is where we go hard-core into the deep cleaning of the property. For this mixture, you might need a trip to the store but not necessary. For cleaning walls and ceiling, you’ll need to mix ½ cup of ammonia, ½ cup of baking soda, and ¼ vinegar for each gallon of hot water. No surface should be left untouched for intense and thorough cleaning. This means walls, ceiling, light fixtures, fan blades, doors, windows, knobs, and anything else that smoke could have come in contact with that is not made out of fabric. We’ll get to fabrics in a bit. You will also need a ladder for the ceiling and light fixtures, as well as an extension pole and a rag. If possible, try to avoid chemical cleaners. While we aim to remove the smell of cigarette smoke, we should refrain from intoxicating the home with toxic chemicals and fumes that can cause more damage in the short term than cigarette smoke does in the long run.

Deep Clean Fabrics

cleaning very dirty

Regarding fabrics, the sustainability advocate in me can not suggest throwing away items made out of fabric exposed to cigarette smoke. Still, I can’t force you to do anything. However, pillows, throws, and other types of furniture covers you can disassemble from the furniture can be washed chemically (not the best option) or simply thrown in the washer. You can send mobile carpets or rugs to the cleaners or scrub them by hand if you don’t mind putting in a little extra work.

Anything you can not throw into the washing machine, like upholstery or immobile carpets, can easily be sprinkled with baking soda and left to sit for a few days. After a few days of sitting there and having had the chance to absorb that repulsive smell, vacuum everything up. You can repeat this step if necessary, depending on the needs you’re faced with. You can also steam carpets, but if you don’t have a steamer, you can rent them from local hardware stores, and if the steamer has an upholstery attachment, you can use it for that as well.

Drapes, curtains, cushion covers, and other laundry-safe fabrics can be washed in the washing machine with ½ cup of vinegar instead of detergent to get rid of the smell. Once that is done, do a standard wash and air-dry them to prevent shrinkage.

Purification and Air Circulation

hot electric ventilator

We already covered above that one of the most effective ways for how to remove cigarette smell from rooms is to open windows and doors as long as possible, especially while smoking. Additionally, fans can immensely increase air circulation whether they are light fixture fans or standing fans. For standing fans, you can place one with its back to an opened window to blow air from the outside, while another is on the other side of the room to exhaust the cigarette smell outside. 

Air purifiers are an excellent way for those wondering how to remove cigarette smell from a room, but we have already covered those. Combining this step with bowls of activated charcoal or vinegar will prove more efficient than without. Replace the contents of these bowls every few days. As stated above, products that only cover the cigarette smell do just that, mask it, allowing for all the toxins to remain. So ensuring air circulation and purification is key to getting rid of cigarette smell and the negative effects of second and third-hand cigarette smoke.

Create Brand New Air

ozone machine generator

This is by far the most complex, expensive, risky, and effective method on how to remove cigarette smell from your home. It might even sound sci-fi to some, but I assure you it isn’t. While I can’t say that I use it, I do have a valid reason for that. I am a smoker, and I smoke in my home. This system isn’t a viable alternative if you smoke all the time in the space you inhabit because how it works makes it impossible to use the room while it does its job.

The ozone generator is the best option for non-smokers to clean the air in the space thoroughly they bought, rent, or occasionally allow people to smoke in. Ozone generators work by eliminating any odors, whether good or bad, pleasant or disgusting. To use this equipment, you need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to the letter and leave it to do its job on its own when turned on. 

This system works by oxidizing the molecules within a space and creating activated oxygen. While the science behind it might be a bit too complex, I understand it is that it inactivates any air in a room and replaces it with new clean air. This is why it’s important to let it be while it’s operating because if you walk in at the wrong time, you might realize you have no air to breathe. So make sure the room you are purifying is firmly locked and air-tight and that you can not go into that room for however long it takes to do its thing. This may depend on the type of system used, which is why it’s incredibly important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.


Just like forcing our opinions on others, forcing someone to stop doing something harmful to themselves is not anyone’s decision but their own. It’s simple. If someone doesn’t want to change, no amount of pressure or pestering will make them change. When it comes to addicts, the decision to fight addiction must come from them and not an external source. Trust me on this. While trying to stop smoking, I never managed to because I never wanted to do it for myself. There had been several external factors that motivated me to try. Still, the thing is, when that external factor goes away, so does the motivation, and addiction takes over once again.

Still, maintaining healthy and good air quality in your home isn’t something impossible whether you are a smoker or not. Whether you want to get rid of the smoke smell from the home you recently moved to or simply want to make sure that the stale smell from your smoking habit doesn’t remain in your home, by following the methods described above, I assure you your home will not have to deal with it for much longer. 

This article is meant to help you get rid of bad odors from smoking in your home, and anyone who wants to do this should have access to the information. Like & Share this article with friends and family to help them improve the air quality in their homes. Also, if there is anything you would like to share with us on this topic, feel free to comment your thoughts in the comment section below.


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