After you’ve quit smoking you’ll likely be bothered by residual odors in your home and car that you may have never noticed when you were a smoker. Lingering odors and chemical residue may be especially tough on those with allergies who have COPD or are on supplemental oxygen, such as a portable oxygen concentrator. Cigarette residue is referred to as third hand smoke and is hazardous to everyone who comes into contact with it, especially children. Air purifiers can be helpful but cigarette smoke permeates every surface and can be a challenge to get out but over time, your house and auto will smell like new with these tips and tricks.
Home Ventilation Systems
In order to begin to clear the air in your home it is important to get your ventilation system working for you and to prevent it from re-contaminating the areas that you cleaned. You should also clear out clutter and discard anything that may trap odors.
- Change all filters in the HVAC system and consider having air ducts cleaned
- Open windows and use fans to draw fresh air in
- Clean cold air return grates
- Get rid of old newspapers and magazines or any other paper products you don’t need
- Replace all light bulbs as they attract residue and will emit odors as they heat up when turned on.
Repainting is the most thorough way to get that smoky smell out and rid your walls of the dingy yellowing that occurs over years of exposure to cigarette smoke. However, you shouldn't repaint the walls yourself, unless you get it cleared by your doctor. If you can’t get your walls repainted, there are some ways to clean the walls to make them brighter and to eliminate smoke odor.
Wash walls with trisodium phosphate to degrease wall surfaces and remove tar. Trisodium phosphate can generally be found at any home improvement store. Be sure to wear gloves when applying.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of trisodium phosphate with a gallon of warm water.
- Start at the bottom and apply with a clean sponge
- Allow solution to sit for five minutes
- Rinse with clean water and fresh sponge. Change water often.
- Paint will likely have to be reapplied after this process.
If you can’t repaint:
Warm water and warm vinegar in a 1 to 1 mixture can be sprayed directly on walls and wiped with a sponge.
For stubborn stains:
- Combine 1/4 cup of ammonia with a gallon of water
- Apply directly to wall and let sit for approximately 5 minutes
- Rinse with warm water
Getting the Smell out of Flooring
Open windows and use fans to ventilate as much as possible.
For Hardwood Floors
- Mix ¼ cup of vinegar with a bucket of mop water.
- Keep mop fairly dry and do a section at a time taking time to soak up moisture with a towel soon after applying to avoid damage to the floor.
- Sweep thoroughly
- Add 1 cup of vinegar and baking soda to your mop water
If smell lingers it could be that the smoke has permeated the grout
- Mix 2 parts baking soda with 1 part white vinegar
- Stir to form a paste
- Spread on grout, covering completely
- Let stand for at least 10 minutes, then rinse
To Clean Carpets
Consider replacing both carpet and padding if possible.
If you can’t replace carpeting:
- Vacuum thoroughly, preferably with a vacuum with a HEPA filter
- Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda throughout area and let sit overnight
- Vacuum again and repeat process a few times for stubborn odors
- Add 30 drops of citrus oil to a spray bottle full of water and spritz the carpet lightly in areas that are not well traveled.
Getting Draperies Smelling Fresh
Curtains and drapes trap in a lot of odors. If it’s not time to replace them the dry cleaner is a good option and if they are silk, wool, polished cotton, or have light blocking lining, you won’t be able to clean them any other way. Before you wash or take them to the dry cleaner lay them out flat and sprinkle with baking soda. Let them sit for at least an hour and vacuum. This will at least absorb some of the odor prior to washing.
For drapes that can be washed in the washing machine:
- Add ¾ cup of baking soda or 1 cup of white vinegar
- Wash in hot water
- To prevent shrinkage and to further ventilate the drapes let them air dry
- This process may need to be repeated a couple of times to get the smell completely out
Clothes in drawers and closets absorb smoke as well. Those will likely all need to be washed or at the very least, hung in a well ventilated area to air out.
- Place bowls of baking soda in drawers and let sit for a few days to draw out odors that have permeated the wood
- Mist drawers with vinegar and let dry
- Place used coffee grounds in bowls inside stuffy areas to trap odors. Let sit for several hours, then discard
- Balled up yesterday’s newspaper and let pieces sit in enclosed spaces for a few hours before placing in recycling, they will absorb odors.
- Wipe down any wooden tables or other furniture with white vinegar and warm water. When the surface is dry, clean with a citrus based wood cleaner.
- For upholstery, sprinkle with baking soda and vacuum. Spray with two parts water mixed with one part white vinegar. Repeat as necessary.
Clothing, Linens, and Bedding
For clothes that don’t require dry cleaning:
- Fill washer with warm water
- Add one cup of baking soda
- Add one cup of white vinegar
- Let soak for one hour
- Air dry if possible or use several dryer sheets
Ridding your Car of Smoke Odor
- Either replace mats or wash them with soap and water and hang to dry
- Clean seats with leather or upholstery cleaner
- Sprinkle baking soda throughout floor area and let stand for an hour then vacuum
- Run the vents with the windows down for several minutes to clean out the system
- Leave a bowl of baking soda or can of coffee grounds in the car overnight to absorb odors
- Window cleaner or vinegar and water can be used on doors and inside panels to remove stains on interior doors and panels
Congratulations on kicking the smoking habit! We hope ridding your home and car of the smell of smoke helps you even further on your path to healthy living! If you're still working on quitting, download our free ebook!