Tobacco and Cigarette Smoke Odor Removal

Fire Restoration

After years of smoking in a home, walls and contents become blemished and develop foul odors, and professional cigarette smoke odor removal is often necessary. Learn more about cleaning homes affected by tobacco residue and odors below.

What is cigarette smoke?

Cigarette smoke residue is a yellowish-brown, gluey substance that sticks to every surface in a home, making it difficult and time-consuming to remove.

When cigarettes, pipes, or cigars are burned, the environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) that results, also known as “secondhand smoke,” is a complex mixture of over 7,000 compounds, more than 40 of which are associated with cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Exposure to ETS often referred to as “passive smoking,” affects both smokers and non-smokers.

How does cigarette smoke affect your home?

Smoking affects the people exposed to smoke and produces odorous substances that stick to every surface of the area where smoking has taken place. The yellowish-brown substance is eliminated through smoking bonds to walls, furniture, and plastics and can permanently change their appearance. Cigarette smoke also penetrates more odor-absorbing objects, such as carpets, upholstery, bedding, walls, clothes, electronics, and more.

Additionally, the HVAC system of a building carries the smoke odor and chemicals throughout the structure. The affected surfaces will become unpleasant to look at, and the odors may disturb many people. The result of long-term smoking in enclosed areas is similar to that of a fire. However, tobacco smoke chemicals are much more challenging to eliminate than those of an actual fire.

Ultimately, tobacco residue is tough to remove and requires professional equipment and services. But, if you want to DIY, here are a few cigarette smoke odor removal tips.

DIY Cigarette Smoke Odor Removal from Homes

Long-term cigarette odor removal solutions

To eliminate cigarette smoke odor, you must thoroughly clean the tobacco smoke residue from every surface and corner of the home:

  • First, open all windows and doors to let as much fresh air in as possible.
  • Clean or replace the air filters, furnace filters, and AC filters.
  • Clean walls and ceilings using products with ammonia and glycol — two ingredients that neutralize bad odors. Let the walls dry and check if the odor persists.
  • If you can still smell cigarette odor after cleaning, repaint the walls and ceilings with latex paint. Use a sealant designed to lock in odors before painting.
  • Clean everything in the home: floors, windows, carpets, furniture, upholstery, draperies, blinds, and other household surfaces, fixtures, and items. Hire a professional cleaning company if the tobacco smoke is too difficult to remove.

Short-term cigarette odor removal solutions

If you want inexpensive short-term solutions, try these tips:

  • Use an air purifier in your home.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on the carpets, leave it overnight to absorb bad smells, and vacuum it the next day.
  • Place saucers of white vinegar around the house and leave them overnight to neutralize the smell.
  • Get indoor plants that can absorb up to 87% of indoor pollutants.
  • Place small bowls of coffee throughout the home.
  • Use scented or non-scented candles.
  • Leave orange peels around the home.
  • Place pineapple slices around the room with all doors and windows closed for 24 hours.
  • Place bowls of activated charcoal around the home.

Completely removing the cigarette smoke odor from the home is time-consuming and complicated. Call a professional smoke remediation specialist like PuroClean to remove the scent if the situation is complex.

How professionals remove smoke odor from a property

As tobacco residue is present throughout the affected area, removing it is often very difficult. No magic formula will whisk away unwanted residues and smells in your home.

Masking the odor with air fresheners only works temporarily and can pose health risks. Moreover, covering up a tobacco smell with a fresh coat of paint without cleaning first will not effectively eliminate the odor. Within weeks or months, the smoke residue will begin leaking through the paint and spread offensive odors through the room, just like before.

The only effective way to remove tobacco residue and smell is to clean and seal all structural surfaces. Restoration specialists start tobacco smoke removal by cleaning all surfaces. The cleanup always includes deodorizing agents to help eliminate the tiny particles of tobacco smoke.

Once the technicians finish cleaning the visible surfaces, specialized equipment is often necessary to remove the very last of the odors that are not accessible (such as inside walls or joints). This will usually involve hydroxyl or ozone generators — professional equipment that effectively destroys the smelly particles that penetrated the hard-to-reach areas.

The next step consists of sealing the surfaces with a sealant. A product designed to seal smoke residues is required. These can lock in the very last of the stains and odors. Finally, the surfaces will be ready to paint, refinish or apply new coverings.

What about the soft items? The soft things in a home, such as upholstery, bedding, draperies, and clothes absorb odors very well and are often easily damaged. Because of this, they are challenging to restore and may require specialists successfully. Often, the decision is made to replace these materials and items.

For cigarette smoke odor removal, call the pros!

To remove tobacco smoke odors in your home effectively and in the shortest time possible, hire a professional restoration company like PuroClean. We provide complete smoke cleaning and sanitation, professional deodorization, and duct cleaning services.

Last edited on 23rd of January 2023