Home Inspection Insights

Lawrence M. Watkins, Specsure Property Inspections

7 Steps to Remove Smoke Odor

goodbye smoke

Tobacco odors can penetrate just about everything in your Western New York home, but you don’t have to live with the smell forever. A number of strategies can help you remove tobacco odors from your house, with the exact methods you choose depending on how deeply you need to clean. Short-term smoking odors are easier to remove than the odor and residue from years of indoor smoking.


Removable Fabrics


  • Drapery, pillows, bedding, blankets and other fabrics that can fit in large washing machine can be washed in cold water with two cups of white vinegar added to the load. Dry on a clothesline if possible, or use the lowest dryer setting. Heat tends to reactive the tobacco odor.


  • Dry cleaning is another option for delicate fabrics. Let the dry cleaner know you’re aiming to remove tobacco odors so he can use the appropriate cleaning method.


Store the freshly cleaned fabrics outside of the house until the smoke smell has been eradicated from the rest of your Buffalo-area home.


Furniture and Carpets


  • Baking soda works well to remove tobacco odors from soft surfaces, such as mattresses, couches, and carpeting. You can sprinkle baking soda over all areas you want refreshed by using a large colander.


Walk around with your baking soda and colander, pouring baking soda into the colander and then sifting directly over your targeted areas. You can gently pat the baking soda into the surfaces for a deeper clean. Let it sit for about an hour, then vacuum.


Hard Surfaces


Smoking leaves an odor as well as a residue throughout your home. Remove the residue and odor from walls, ceilings and other hard surfaces with a mixture of three parts vinegar to one part water.


  • Dip a clean cloth into the mixture, wipe down a 3-square-foot area, rinse the cloth, and move on to the next section until all desired surfaces are wiped clean. Replace the cleaning mixture as needed as you move throughout the house.



Stubborn Tobacco Odors


  • If these efforts didn’t remove enough of the tobacco odor, it may be time to rent or purchase an ozone machine. These machines send out ozone molecules that stick to surfaces throughout the house, removing odors when the molecules dissipate. Since ozone may be harmful to people and pets, only run the machine in an empty house. Immediately open windows upon your return.


  • Change the air filter in the furnace to prevent recirculating indoor air through a polluted filter. For a more thorough, deep cleaning you may consider having HVAC ducts professionally cleaned.



Beyond Stubborn Odors


  • When all else fails, a final resort involves repainting the interior and replacing the carpets. This step is obviously more involved and expensive, but it can knock out the tobacco odors for good. Use an odor-blocking primer, such as Kilz Max, beneath your fresh paint. Replace carpets and pads if the odor has penetrated deeply enough to merit it.


As a leading home inspection company in Western New York, we’ve witnessed the negative effects of smoking indoors. These tips can help remove the tobacco odor as well as the residue for a completely refreshed interior.