By Tina Jepson
Cigarette smoke sticks around long after a smoker has left the building. Ask just about anyone who has ventured into a home after someone has smoked inside and they’ll tell you that a simple air freshener just doesn’t do the trick in helping to remove the smell of cigarettes.
Heck, after spending a few hours at a club or bar, the stench of cigarettes seems to permeate long after the night has ended. So what do you do if you move into a home of smoker or you find that your short-term renter didn’t follow the “no smoking” rule?
To be honest, you have some work ahead of you, but all’s not lost. You CAN remove evidence of cigarette smoke. Here’s how to get started.
1. Deep-Clean Carpets
Start the stench-removal process by focusing on the one surface that’s bound to soak up every last bit of smoke: the carpet.
Do a thorough once-over throughout your entire home with a vacuum set on the strongest suction. If you know of particular problem rooms or areas, sprinkle the carpet with baking soda and allow it to sit for 25-30 minutes before running the vacuum over the floor one more time.
If this still doesn’t do the trick (with cigarette smoke, you never know), rent a Rug Doctor or another carpet deep-cleaner. For around $30, your carpets will be fresh smelling and thoroughly clean.
2. Scrub EVERY Surface
Cigarette smoke clings not just to carpets, but to walls, furniture, and even knickknacks. Use clean rags and a mixture of warm water and dish soap and tackle your walls first, scrubbing hard using a circular motion.
Next, mix a 1:1 solution of white distilled vinegar and water, dab it on some paper towels, and use this on every hard surface in your home.
3. Wash Fabrics with Vinegar
Remove the cushions from your couch, take down the curtains, and gather any other fabrics around your home such as throw pillow covers and blankets. Turn everything inside-out (if possible) and toss it all according to color into the washing machine.
Instead of regular detergent which will simply mask the smoke smell, use 1 to 1.5 cups of white distilled vinegar to truly remove all the evidence. Don’t worry, your couch cushions won’t come out smelling like vinegar. I promise!
4. Paint the Walls
You already scrubbed your walls, but if they’re holding on to the smoke or worse, discolored from years of tobacco exposure, it’s best to start with a fresh coat of paint. It’s a small investment that’s bound to help spruce up your home and rid it of the remaining smoke at the same time.
5. Concentrate on the Air
Don’t forget to change out your home’s air filters immediately after you notice evidence of a smoker. It’s possible that smoke is actually trapped in the filter and is recirculating through your home.
In addition, consider renting and/or purchasing a home air purifier. The size of your home and the scope of the problem will determine how large the unit needs to be. In all, a purifier can set you back between $250 to $500+, but if you’re desperate for clean, healthy air, it’s really a no-brainer.
6. Speaking of Vinegar…
Have I mentioned vinegar enough in this article? Well, I’m going to talk about the wonder that’s white distilled vinegar one last time. Vinegar isn’t just a great cleanser, it’s also great to help purify the air.
If you followed all the advice above, chances are your home is almost fully smoke-free. Yet, smoke smells can still creep back if you missed a spot. To ensure every last bit of scent is gone, place small dishes of vinegar around your home at leave them alone for about 48-hours. It’s a simple cleaning trick, but you’ll definitely notice a difference.
While we’re all well-aware that smoking indoors poses some serious health risks, that doesn’t stop some smokers from indulging inside the confines of their (or your) home. No, you definitely don’t have to pack up and sell your home to avoid the smell. Instead, rely on some good old-fashioned scrubbing, air filters, and of course, gallons and gallons of vinegar.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Tina Jepson, www.shutterstock.com, and www.dreamstime.com