General Question

stemnyjones's avatar

Quickest ways to get the smell of cigarette smoke out of a house?

Asked by stemnyjones (3959 points ) May 26th, 2012

What are some good, quick ways to get the smell of cigarette smoke out of a house?

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37 Answers

Charles's avatar

Open all the windows.

chelle21689's avatar

open windows and febreeze lol

YARNLADY's avatar

Immediately replace all the curtains and furniture, since they get permeated with the stink. Scrub all the walls and ceilings since they are coated with the tar and nicotine.

Ayesha's avatar

Light some scented candles and open all of your windows.

augustlan's avatar

Febreeze the hell out of everything, then open your windows.

Kardamom's avatar

Depending upon how extensive you want/need to get, you could re-paint the walls, but first use a product like Kilz primer first.

Otherwise, use lots of Febreeze on any and all fabric surfaces, including carpets. You might even want to rent a carpet cleaner. Throw open your doors and windows (if it’s not too cold where you are) for a few hours.

wundayatta's avatar

Febreeze? Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. I go into a house that smells like that, and I want to burn it down. Same with a house that smells like cigarettes.

Scrub everything down. Everything. Get rid of all fabrics and furniture with fabric. Just toss everything that collects a smell. Repaint the walls. Make sure everything gets aired out for a long time. That smell never leaves voluntarily.

But seriously, move. Or burn down the house. You’re better off with new than living in a place that has been contaminated with cigarette smoke (or fabreze, for that matter). I also hate the smell of Lysol. These things just make me ill.

augustlan's avatar

@wundayatta I can’t stand the smell of air freshener, either, which is why I recommend opening all the windows after using it. The combo seems to do the trick, and within an hour or so, the Febreeze smell is gone.

Jeruba's avatar

My son built a contraption involving a box fan and a couple of high-grade filters set into a minimal wooden frame. He laid it on the floor with the fan blowing upward; the frame gave a few inches of clearance so air could be pulled in through the bottom. He said that in hours or even minutes the air cleared significantly. This was how he aired a new apartment that had the smell of stale smoke hanging around.

Afterthought: If you’re trying not just to eliminate the odor but to conceal the fact that someone’s been smoking in the house, I have to note that coming home to find all the windows open and the smell of air freshener all over the place is a dead giveaway.

Bellatrix's avatar

@Jeruba‘s son’s contraption sounds ingenious but most of us couldn’t build one of those I suspect.

You do need to clarify the context here @stemnyjones. Did someone smoke in your house and you want to get rid of the smell or did you move into/buy or have some other reason to destink a house previously owned by a smoker?

The right response really does depend on why you are doing this.

jerv's avatar

I find that any sort of chemical is bad. Many of the things like Febreze and Lysol either hit me like tear gas or make me want to vomit. More importantly, many people who have such a high sensitivity to cigarette smoke often smell smoke where there has never been a cigarette; it’s a psycho-somatic thing. When dealing with that sort of nose, there is no way to ever get the smell out; they will remember that somebody had a single puff of a cig there back in 1932 and still smell it.

Now, there are some things that do get overly whiffy to the point where even I think it’s too smokey, but those things are generally so permeated that there is no cleaning them. I mean, a normal wash cycle gets it out of my clothes, and if you are sensitive enough that you can still smell it on my clothes afterwards, the only way to get the odor out is psychotherapy.

Note that adequate ventilation works wonders. There is a reason that none of my cars smell like ashtrays, and that reason is that I know how to open windows.

@wundayatta That makes me wonder how you can live anyplace you didn’t build yourself, or ever enter a hotel room, restaurant, or used car. Must be nice to buy everything new. Come to think of it, you probably get nauseated by ~20% of our population, and would never survive in Asia or Europe.

wundayatta's avatar

@jerv True. It is very difficult for me to go even to places like Florida, where everyone seems to smoke. I would never purchase a house that had been smoked in. But sometimes my neighbors smoke in their back yard and the smoke drifts into my bedroom. Then we have to rush to close the windows. It’s hideous.

Believe it or not, there are people who have it much worse than I do. They break out in hives at the scent of anything like cigarettes or perfume or much of anything that smells in certain ways.

blueberry_kid's avatar

I concur with opening all the windows.

JLeslie's avatar

I recommend carpet freshner, you can get one that is not very fragrant, and wiping down all counters with pinesol. I hate the smell of lysol, air freshners, candles, and febreeze. Pinesol and carpet freshner smell clean to me, not like I am trying to mask a different smell.

Opening the windows is good too. Open on both sides of the house for a cross breeze, but if the smell is in fabric, I still say pinesol and carpet freshner in addition to opening the windows.

jerv's avatar

@wundayatta But even those who don’t have allergies are making like difficult. No peanuts, gluten-free everything…. I have enough issues dealing with the truly allergic people without everybody jumping on the “I’m a victim too!” bandwagon.
If the smoke carrying that far bothers you though, maybe you need a nice, rural place. Somewhere where the population density is less than 10 people per square mile.

@JLeslie Nosebleeds also smell clean. That is why I don’t use some of those sorts of things; I would rather deal with unpleasant odor than blood loss, especially since my last nosebleed wouldn’t stop and racked up a $4k ER visit to get cauterized.

There really is no substitute for fresh air.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv I am all in favor of fresh air. Are you saying the carpet fresh and pinesol cause you nose bleeds? My house typically smells fairly neutral. The smell of the pinesol only lasts for a while. If you are allergic or sensitive to cleaning chemicals I certainly understand that, you can use natural neutral products too. I use pinesol and carpet powder about once a month when I deep clean and I get compliments on how my house smells, so I figure the combination is ok with most people. I also pull out the pinesol if I have cooked something very pungent to get rid of the smell. The rest of the time for daily cleaning I use a natural product that barely has any sort of smell at all.

I have no idea if the OP just had a few people smoking one day, or there have been smokers in her place for days, weeks, months. Just opening a window wouldn’t clear out the smell if the smoking has been going on for a while. Also, depending on where she lives, opening the windows might not be easily feasible for an extended period.

@wundayatta Funny, I don’t think of FL as a big smoking place, unless maybe you were in South Beach when a lot of the Europeans are in town, or north FL which is basically the south. None of my FL friends smoke.

bkcunningham's avatar

The rate of smoking in Indiana and West Virginia are nearly equal, @JLeslie, neither are southern states. From highest to lowest order of top ten states with largest percentage of adult smokers: West Virginia, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Nevada and Alabama,

http://www.forbes.com/2010/02/18/smoking-nicotine-addiction-lifestyle-health-lung-cancer-highest_slide_5.html

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham I actually would count W. VA as the south. Is it technically not? Nevada doesn’t surprise me. The reason I mentioned the southern states was because so many of them were/are so slow to outlaw smoking in restaurants and other “public” places, so smokers were very evident and intrusive to the non-smoker, the south has a history of tobacco, seeing that it was grown around these parts, and I am sure the laws reflected supporting tobacco growers. Las Vegas Casinos are big smoke filled rooms.

I found this map that supports what I am saying.

bkcunningham's avatar

Look at West Virginia on a map and tell me if it is a southern state.

bkcunningham's avatar

I just realized this question is in General. Oops. Sorry for the off-topic comments.

JLeslie's avatar

@bkcunningham Here is wikipedia on the topic of southern states. Also, W. VA is below the Mason Dixon line, and it is a “southern culture” for the most part.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie “I have no idea if the OP just had a few people smoking one day, or there have been smokers in her place for days, weeks, months. Just opening a window wouldn’t clear out the smell if the smoking has been going on for a while. Also, depending on where she lives, opening the windows might not be easily feasible for an extended period.”

Valid points. Personally, I rarely smoke indoors unless it’s someplace that is either well-ventilated (I’m talking industrial-strength ventilation that makes the exhaust fan in most bathrooms look pathetically anemic) or someplace that is already fucked, like dive bars (in states where that is still legal). Many of the latter places would probably still smell like smoke if you knocked the old building down, buried it, and built another one, making it a moot point.

But many of the former don’t let the smoke stick around long enough to soak in. Case in point; my car. I still have enough of a sense of smell to know when my neighbor three doors down is sitting outside smoking, yet my car’s upholstery doesn’t smell like an ashtray. The reason? Opening the drivers window about an inch really sucks the smoke out. Of course, the average home doesn’t have wind going by the window at 60+ MPH to create a vacuum….

BTW, to show you how ridiculous some anti-smokers can get, when I was selling a 1985 Golf, a prospective buyer called me up and asked if the car had ever been smoked in. Now, we are talking a 20-year-old car here, and the ad stated that I recently picked it up (implying that I was not the first owner) as a project car and was selling it due to abandoning the project. Some people….

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv My assumption is if someone takes the time to ask a question regarding cigarette smell, it isn’t just because someone had one smoke with the windows open. I figure it smells like smoke and it is not airing out so easily.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie I’ve seen enough people that (at least claim to) smell cigarette smoke outdoors long after the wind has carried it away that I do not make that assumption automatically. Too many psycho-somatic people dramatically waving their hands and coughing before I have even lit my smoke has made me a bit cynical.

Still, the best thing is prevention because it really is one of those things that you don’t want to let settle in. The best way to prevent it from settling in is ventilation. The best ways to remove the smell after it’s settled in… well, none are quick.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv Well, I have to disagree with you, I don’t think it is psychosomatic.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie Sometimes yes, sometimes no. However, I notice many of those people have no issues being around cars :/

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv I wouldn’t say they have no problem being around cars, or “city” polution. There have big efforst in cities over the years to reduce air pollution. Most newer cars the emision is barely noticeable, even if it is still poisoning us. If I stand next to acar that is running, and someone who is smoking, I am going to smell the smoke, but not the car most likely.

I am not one of those people who cannot stand to be around smoke, you can have cigarette if we meet for coffee at the table with me. But, the smoke is noticeable. The smell does hang around. People who smoke are usually less aware of the smell. I figure it is because they already have a smoke smell filling their nose. I have a feeling fresh air smells differently to a smoke if they have not smoked for a week.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie Everybody is different. Personally, I can tell an old Ford from an old Toyota by smell. It’s not that I am not aware, but I only notice it when there is actually is (or at least has been) smoke; I’ve seen some people who notice it every time they even see logo for a brand of cigarettes, hence my issues. Other people have different sensitivities, though most to odors that are actually present.
As for the car comment, have you ever seen how much a car puts out? Basically a lungful every 0.1 seconds at idle, or 0.03 seconds at normal cruising speed. Even with the invention of catalytic converters, a car puts out more carbon monoxide in a minute than a dozen chain-smokers do in an hour, hence why I see some hypocrisy.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv Like you said old Ford and old Toyota, and carbon monoxide doesn’t smell. I said in my answer new cars. We were talking about smell and the persons ability and discomfort around smoke vs. car.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie And I am referring to the fact that even smokers can still have an acute sense of smell, even when that odor is cigarette smoke. As for discomfort, I cannot walk down the cleaning supplies aisle in a supermarket without issues.
At least cigarette smoke has an odor; I prefer my toxins detectable without specialized instruments.

JLeslie's avatar

@jerv I like my toxins detectable also. I was not trying to generalize that all smokers don’t have an accute sense of smell. I know smokers who will not smoke in their house or car, because they can’t stand the ashtray smell.

jerv's avatar

@JLeslie I am amongst those, at least at home. As for my car, I already pointed out how well ventilated I keep my little ‘yota, making it a non-issue there.

bookish1's avatar

Ozium is good stuff.

liza462's avatar

I also have that problem. I have just taken over my parents home. They both where heavy smokers, so the walls, windows and curtains are coated with nicotine. Can anyone recommend a good product that is good for removing nicotine stains, but not toxic.

liza462's avatar

@bookish1 What is ozium?

liza462's avatar

Airfreshers are a temorary fix. Need to remove the nicotine without ruining furniture or walls. I know that once I wash the walls I’ll have to repaint, but I don’t have the finances to buy all new furniture and appliances.

Beth42's avatar

I just used 4 spray bottles of vinegar. Also wash the walls with vinegar and water. Poured baking soda all over the house going to let it sit for a day. I quit smoking over 2 years ago. Hubby it’s been 3 weeks. And one of the main things it says is to get all the smoke smell out of the home to help. The person that is trying to quit. To stay quit. If you can’t smell it in your home. Then you tend not want one. And I beg to differ with one poster. There is someone I know that smokes . You can smell it on them before the come up to you. I’m not sure if its because of menthol or what. But it’s awful. I went to see them and I promise you, I was there only 5 mins and my hair clothes smelled like cigs. It was sicking I loved to smoke before I quit. But I had to sit and watch my father-in-law die of cop. With tubes running down his throat. I said then I was quitting something I really loved to do. So I’m going to get it out of this house. And I will. I rather smell cleaning stuff. Then cig smoke. That tends to cause problems in the long run.

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