Tips and Tricks for Getting Rid of that Nasty Cigarette Smell

There’s nothing like the smell of stale cigarettes to take the shine off of moving into your new place or to ruin a great piece of furniture. Luckily, there are steps you can take to freshen things up and get rid of that nasty, lingering cigarette smell. Read on to find out the best ways to breathe new life into otherwise smoky surroundings.

Clear the Air

While it’s tempting to try to use copious amounts of room spray or fabric fresheners to combat the smell of old smoke, this will only cover up the smell; it won’t remove it. To truly get the cigarette smell out, start by:

  • Opening the windows – as many as you can. While this won’t get rid of all the smoke smell, it makes a very good start. This works even better if you’ve got a slight breeze to help move the air through the house.
  • Running air purifiers– this is a great next step after airing out your home. However, depending on the purifier and the size of the room, it can take a while. Also, depending on the intensity and concentration of the smell, an air purifier might not be enough.
  • Making vinegar your new best friend– vinegar is not only a great all-purpose cleaner; it can also help deodorize a room. Set out a bowl of vinegar in each room and after a few hours, the house should smell noticeably better.

What to Clean

Unfortunately the key to removing the smoke smell from a living space often involves large quantities of elbow grease. To make your home a cigarette smell-free environment, there are several areas that may need deep cleaning including:

  • Walls. Residue from smoke builds up on the walls and can be removed using cleaners containing glycol and ammonia. Just be sure that when you do use these chemicals, you do so in a well-ventilated area away from pets and children. Ceilings.
  • Ceilings. Ceiling are often overlooked but are also often saturated with smoke residue. Be sure to include the ceiling in any thorough cleaning effort.
  • Floors. Carpets retain the lion’s share of cigarette smoke and as a result, should be deep cleaned. Sometimes a professional carpet cleaning is necessary if using home products don’t completely remove the smell.
  • Drapes and blinds. Drapes and curtains need to be removed and washed, or dry cleaned if the fabric calls for it. Blinds can be washed in the bathtub. Vinegar can be used both in the laundry and to clean blinds.
  • Windows and mirrors. Don’t forget to clean the windows and mirrors as well. Smoke can leave a film on glass surfaces which can be cleaned with, you guessed it – vinegar.

Bright Ideas

  • If you can still smell smoke on the walls even after a thorough cleaning, a fresh coat of paint can be a fantastic way to get rid of the smell and brighten your home, at the same time.
  • An often overlooked source of smoke smell is, incredulously, light bulbs. As time goes by, residue builds up and then is released when the light bulb is turned on and subsequently warms up. Changing out all the old light bulbs will help eliminate the smell.

A Word on Furniture

If you’ve found the perfect couch but it smells like the inside of a dive bar, there are several easy and inexpensive ways to remove the odor.

  • Air out the furniture – literally. The UV rays that are bad for your skin are actually good for neutralizing smoke smells so leave that piece of furniture in direct sunlight for a day or two.
  • Your old friend vinegar. It can be used with water either as a spray or can be wiped onto the furniture to deodorize. (Just be sure to test a small, out of the way area first to make sure the vinegar/water mix won’t stain or fade the surface.) A solution of one part lemon juice to four parts water can also be used, if no vinegar is on hand.
  • Baking Soda. Sprinkle baking soda on affected furniture and leave for up to 72 hours, before vacuuming off.

Follow the above tips and tricks, and your home and furniture will once again smell like new, as opposed to an ashtray.

This post was written and contributed by Victor Simmons. For over 10 years Victor has worked hard to
find the easiest and most efficient ways to clean and organize a home and he is now taking the time to share his passion for organization.

Related Articles:

Kristi Maloney is a work from home mom to two boys ages 10 and 13. Since 2009, she has featured in-depth product, and book reviews and hosted high-quality, exciting giveaways on her blog Moms Own Words. When she is not blogging, you can find her working at her son’s school, or behind the wheel of her car in the roll of “taxi driver”. Email at maloney(dot)Kristi@gmail(dot)com.

Post Footer automatically generated by Add Post Footer Plugin for wordpress.


  1. Vickie Couturier says

    great review,I hate smell of stale smoke, an some ppl do not realise that they reek or stale smoke,my house will stink for hours after they leave,even with them NOT smoking in my house which I dont allow,,

  2. says

    Cigarette smoke is one of the grossest smells ever. My mother smoked while I was growing up and the whole house stunk! Ew.

  3. Diane Sallans says

    Thanks for the tips. No one smokes in my house, but every once in a while I don’t buy something at a garage or tag sale because it smells of smoke.

  4. Debbie Welchert says

    I never thought about the light bulbs with the smell of cigarettes on them. My husband smokes in the bathroom and boy does it stink. Now I know to clean the light bulbs too. Thanks for the review.

  5. julie cutshaw says

    I know I picked an older post to comment on but true and good tips need repeating. I love love your tips here. I just hate buying things from others that do not tell you that it was from a smoke inviroment. I bought vintage christmas ornaments and they reeked of smoke. So I put them inside a big spacebag, tossed in cinnomon sticks and vacumed them tight sealed and stored them for a while, when I opened them later the cinnomon replaced the smoke smell. I love your baking soda tip, it works wonders! thanks very helpful info

  6. kristi maloney says

    Hi Julie.

    So glad to hear that the tips worked for you. I love your tip with the space bag! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Jesselyn A/Jesstinger says

    I know you posted this awhile back, and since pretty much no one I know still smokes – I didn’t give it that much thought until this week: We had a house guest for ONE night who politely was not going to smoke in the house…

    Well apparently the need was so powerful that she snuck several (dozen?) smokes down in the basement and boy does it stink! The ventilation down there isn’t the greatest – and the basement has an annoying ability to hold on to odors for decades…

    But I am going to try every trick in your post to TRY and will let you know how it goes! Thanks!

  8. Rosie says

    This post caught my attention b/c I was a real estate agent for several years, and it could be hard to convince smokers how much the lingering odor was hindering the purchase. I have “smelled” minor miracles and these seem to be what it takes to eliminate the odor, possibly even removing the carpeting and using special paint, too.

  9. Julie says

    Family just moved into a new rental home. When we went to look at the home, all of the windows and doors were open. I now know why. When we went to move our stuff in, the house had been closed up for a week and it smelled so strong of cigarette smoke. I am thankful for this post. We are going to try all of it. They did paint the walls, but I don”t believe did anything like clean the walls beforehand or use expensive “odor-removing” paint. I know it’s a lot of work ahead, but I don’t want our child to have to smell that. It was suppose to be exciting for him to be in a new bedroom. Right now it just stinks. I will start on his room first. Thank you for these great tips.

  10. Sherri says

    Julie, I am not sure if you will read this, but my story is similar. How did it all go for you? I can’t stand this smell!!! Gross!

  11. Catherine Clements says

    Thanks for the advice! I have furniture that was my grandmothers, that my father had after her death. He was a HEAVY smoker. It’s not only been frustrating to remove, but you’d be amazed at all the unresolved relationship issues that come out of the furniture too when you smell it! I am taking an upholstery class and stripped my grandmother’s favorite chair, only to find that the frame smelled too. I will try your tips.

  12. Faye says

    I bought a used couch and love seat from a person. I forgot to ask them if they smoked. When I got it to my house and sat on it I started to smell the smoke smell. Come to find out her and her husband were smokers. I paid $500 dollars for this furniture and can’t just get rid of it. What would be the best way to eliminate the odors or am I just stuck with the smell?

  13. Tri says

    I know a lot of people will think this is crazy but I had an upholstery shop for 15 years and I know this is factual !! Set your furniture out side, get a miracle grow dispenser or one like it that you can screw on a water hose, pour your favorite smelling laundry soap in it and spray it on the furniture, letting it drain thru. Wait a couple of hours and do it again, then just let it dry, it will take a while but the results are remarkable. I found this out completely by accident. Was given a very nice loveseat by a lady but it was so dirty and stinky, I decided to take it to the dump, I loaded it in the back of my pickup one evening, to take it the next day, it rained during the night. When I went out next morning I saw how clean it was so I let it dry for a few days outside and all the odor was gone too. After that I did the same thing to a lot of furniture and I was never disappointed in the results.

  14. says

    Try they have all non-toxic products for everything from smoke odours, pet odours, strong sweat odours in athletic equiptment and fabrics & upholstery!! Love it and love that its safe for people, pets & the environment!!

  15. Arleen Bishop says

    My neighbor smokes cigarettes seems like for 24/7 how can I not smell it in my apartment?

  16. Vance Edwards says

    Being a painting contractor, we run into a lot of re-sale and rental homes with pet, and tobacco smoke odors. Painting the inside walls will not remove the odors as they are impregnated in the carpet, carpet pads, and walls making the home harder to sell or rent, looks good smells bad. We have used an ozone generator, which worked well, but the house had to be vacated during the operation slowing the work schedule. Contractor mentioned a product called Air-ReNu, which you mix with the paint. Works like a charm, no odor, no electricity, no filters and no problems. It might be something to consider if you have an odor problem, their web site.

  17. Elena Schimmelfing says

    I have a question? how do you get rid of black smoke on the ceiling. I am trying salt and water and nothing. Please get back to me on to let me k now what to do.
    Elena Schimmelfing

Leave a Reply