Apartment smells like cigarette smoke

1. Give everything a deep clean

Stale tobacco smells can work their way into many nooks and crannies in your apartment. Begin by opening all the windows. If you have portable fans, place them in front of the windows to help circulate the fresh air throughout the space.

Then, it’s time to clean: Spray floors, walls, windows and ceilings with a mixture of half hot water and half vinegar. For really bad cigarette odors, you can use a solution made of a quarter-cup of vinegar, a half-cup of baking soda, a half-cup of ammonia and a gallon of hot water. Wash all hard surfaces thoroughly, including kitchen and bathroom cabinets plus countertops.

Toss all laundry-safe fabrics, such as curtains, bedding and sofa covers — if you’re renting a furnished apartment — into the washing machine and add a half-cup of vinegar. Because the sun’s UV rays may neutralize cigarette smoke odors, hang everything outside to dry if possible. For other soft furnishings like lampshades or rugs you can’t machine-wash, a thick layer of baking soda can help soak up odors overnight. You can vacuum up the baking soda the next day. Be sure to get rid of the vacuum bag afterward.

For tiled surfaces in the bathroom and kitchen, mix up nine parts of water to one part of bleach. Wash everything, then rinse with water.

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How To Get Rid Of That Smoke Smell In Your Home

Let’s say that you realized that you have smoke smell attached to your carpet, curtains, couch, or clothes. That’s terrible, but thankfully, there are a couple of ways that you can limit it. To start off, send all your clothes to the laundromat and emphasize that you want them to be deodorized.

Get your carpets and upholstery professionally cleaned to ensure that the smoke smell goes the way of the dodo. If you have carpeting, you also may need to get a professional to shampoo it and lift the smoke out of it. Depending on the severity of the saturation, you also might need to give your walls a thorough cleaning along with a new coat of paint.

Can You Allow Smokers In Your Home Without Getting A Smoke Smell?

Though smoke smell has a tendency of spreading on surfaces easily, you shouldn’t hesitate about inviting smokers over. Though they might smell like smoke, they won’t pose a threat to your home’s odor as long as they are reasonably sanitary in their lifestyle. Just make sure to tell them that you won’t allow smoking on your premises.

Can You Ask A Neighbor To Stop Smoking?

If you recently uncovered that the smell of smoke wafting around your house is due to a neighbor’s nasty habit, you might be tempted to ask them to stop smoking. Truthfully, this probably won’t work but it still may be worth a shot. If you do decide to ask them to quit (or at least relegate their smoking to a different part of the home), be tactful when doing it.

A better option would be to buy them a gift that can help filter out the cigarette smoke before it gets to your house, like an ionizer or a Smoke Buddy. It’s a more subtle, friendlier way to ask them to be a bit considerate while they indulge their vice…and it’s hard to say no to a gift of any type!

2. Wash or Clean All Clothes, Fabrics, and Linens

As anyone who has smelled the clothes of a smoker can attest, fabrics are a magnet for stinky odors. All fabrics and linens should be gathered up and washed. Even if you don't think an item smells all that bad, it's still best to round everything up and clean it anyway—especially since it's possible that it does indeed smell bad, but you don't happen to notice it as much due to the stronger odors around it.

Naturally, this goes for all your clothes too. If they have been in a house permeated by cigarette smoke, then it's pretty likely that they've absorbed some of it as well.

Note: Considering how easily fabrics can reabsorb funky smells even when washed, it's probably best to store your clean clothes in another location until you've successfully rid your house of the smoky odors.

10. Leave Out Some Deodorizers

Now that you've removed most of the smoke smells from your house, it's time to soak up some of the last bits of unwanted odors still lingering.

Here is a list of chemicals you can leave in bowls around your home that will help absorb some of the last remnants of undesirable smells:

  • vinegar
  • coffee
  • baking soda
  • activated charcoal

By leaving bowls of these around your home, it will not only help remove the last traces of smoky odors, but it will also help keep your house smelling fresh and clean.

5. Repaint the apartment

Check your lease or speak to your landlord about getting a fresh coat of paint for your apartment once it’s been cleaned. Some landlords will pay for the paint and supplies if you offer to do it yourself, while others might agree to hire professionals and split the cost with you — especially if you make it part of the agreement when you first agree to rent the apartment.

Even if the landlord won’t kick in any cash, painting the walls after they’ve been washed will help get rid of any lingering cigarette smoke odors. Plus, it will also cover up any remaining yellow or brown stains. You can buy an odor-blocking primer to further reduce whatever smells remain. Roll it on before you paint.

Never paint over walls that have not first been cleaned. Smoke stains and odors will just start coming through the paint a few weeks later.

Why Is Third-Hand Cigarette Smoke Dangerous?

You may consider ignoring the cigarette smoke smell in your house, but there are a few reasons why you shouldn’t:

  • The chemicals and toxic compounds in third-hand smoke can cause cancer.
  • Children living in spaces with an abundance of third-hand smoke can die as a result of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Third-hand smoke can also cause an increased risk of asthma.

Related Questions

How do you neutralize the smell of smoke in your home?

The first thing you need to do is clean out any ashtrays and soft surfaces that have “caught” the scent of smoke pretty heavily, such as clothing. Open windows, turn on your fans. Then, grab some Febreze and start spraying wildly in the air. If your room is particularly smoke-filled, consider using baking soda to neutralize odors.

To fully remove the smell of smoke, you may need to clean your walls with a specialty cleaner. However, this is a last resort and not the go-to in most cases.

Could cigarette smoke smell in a home be a sign of a haunting?

Among the superstitious, smelling cigarettes in a home where no one smokes could potentially be a sign of a ghostly roommate among your ranks. However, it’s best to avoid spooking yourself. In the vast majority of cases, smoke smells can be narrowed down to a smoking roommate, a former tenant who smoked, or just having secondhand smoke cling to clothing.

How can you get smoke smell out of upholstery?

The best thing that you can do is to start by vacuuming the upholstery, then sprinkle baking soda throughout the upholstery surface. Leave the baking soda on for at least 15 minutes to half an hour, depending on the severity of the smell. If it’s really bad, leave the baking soda overnight. Then, use a vacuum to suck up the remnants in the morning. Finish off with a Febreze spray.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it’s what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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