Removing smoking and cigarette smells from a home is one of the most difficult cleaning tasks there is. Cleaning the entire home is the key. In some cases, it might be necessary to take steps beyond cleaning to get your home or rental smelling fresh and new.
1. Curtains and Blinds – Take down curtains and blinds for cleaning. For curtains, make sure they are washable and if so, wash them in hot water with laundry soap and a cup of vinegar per full load. A quick word of caution: vinegar can have a bleaching effect when poured directly on fabrics. It’s best to add the soap and vinegar to the basin and let it fill with water before adding the curtains to avoid causing color fading. If curtains are dry-clean only, consider replacing them with washable curtains. The chemicals used in dry-cleaning can contribute to poor indoor air quality in your home. For blinds, soak them in the bathtub in hot soapy water for 15 minutes, scrub with a fine brush and hang to dry. Allow blinds to dry completely before putting them back on the windows.
2. Wood, Tile and Linoleum Flooring – Clean with a mixture of vinegar and warm water, or a cleaning solution intended for that specific surface (particularly when dealing with wood floors). Change the water frequently and use a gentle brush to scrub in corners and along walls. Clean baseboards, door frames and doors while you’re cleaning floors as they often can be cleaned with the same cleaner as the floors. It might take a few full rounds of cleaning the floors to eliminate the smell completely.
3. Carpet Flooring – Carpet flooring is a bit tougher, depending on the age of the carpeting and the length of time it was exposed to cigarette smoke. You can try a strong carpet and rug cleaner if you prefer to DIY but it’s possible a professional carpet cleaning will be required. In very difficult cases, it might be necessary to replace the carpeting and underlying padding to permanently get rid of the odor.
4. Walls and Ceilings – Many resources advise washing down walls and ceilings with ammonia and glycol to remove cigarette and smoking odors. However, these are very harsh chemicals and when not used in a properly ventilated area, can cause damage to lung and nasal tissues. A safe alternative is to use a vinegar and baking soda solution made of one cup of vinegar, a half cup of baking soda and two cups of warm water. Clean in small sections and finish each section by wiping clean with a separate fresh damp sponge. It will likely take 2-3 passes of the entire room to remove the odor. In difficult cases, it might be necessary to repaint the walls and ceilings. If this is the case, talk to the paint store about a primer and sealant that can seal the odors first before you paint. This will help prevent the smells from leaching through your new coat of paint.
5. Air – Your indoor air can also have lingering amounts of “third-hand smoke” that can cause breathing difficulties for you and your family. While you can’t exactly scrub your air, an indoor air purifier is a great investment to remove cigarette and smoke odors. Most models also help remove allergens, dust, bacteria and viruses too.
Eliminating the odors of cigarettes and smoking from your home or rental property can take a lot of effort and time. If you need help, the Clean Up Club is available to help you clean up any stinky situation.