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cigarette smoke odor
Fire Restoration July 5, 2019

Tobacco Smoke Odor Removal

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

What is tobacco 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, which is often referred to as “passive smoking”, affects both smokers and non-smokers.

How does tobacco smoke affect your home?

Smoking not only affects the people exposed to smoke, but it also produces odorous substances that stick to every surface of the area where smoking has taken place. The yellowish-brown substance 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, clothes, and many 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 end result of long-term smoking in enclosed areas is similar to that of a fire. However, tobacco smoke chemicals are much more difficult to eliminate than those of an actual fire.

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

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 in 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 which 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 cigarette smoke odor from a home is a very time-consuming and complicated process. If the situation is severe, call a professional smoke remediation specialist, such as PuroClean, to remove the odor.

How professionals remove smoke odor from a property

As tobacco residue is present throughout the entire affected area, removing it is often very difficult. There is no magic formula that just whisks away residues and smells.

Masking the odor with air fresheners only works temporarily and can pose health risks. Moreover, covering up 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 through very thorough cleaning and then sealing all structural surfaces. Restoration specialists start tobacco smoke removal by cleaning all surfaces. The cleanup always includes deodorizing agents to help eliminate the very tiny particles of tobacco smoke.

Once the technicians finish cleaning the visible surfaces, using 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 often involve hydroxyl generators or ozone generators — professional equipment that effectively destroy 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 very difficult to successfully restore and may require specialists. In many cases though, the decision is made to simply 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, as well as duct cleaning services.

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