Getting Rid of Smoke Smell

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Everything we own stinks from neighbor's smoke

Dec 2009

Our downstairs neighbor has been smoking and the smoke has been coming up through the floor and filling our apartment. We are moving, but EVERYTHING we own stinks. Does anyone have tips about cleaning curtains, rugs, furniture, lamp shades, etc? What about our baby's crib mattress? Our futon? Is there any hope for us? coughing mama

My used car had a smoke smell (kind of like a Motel 6 room), so I sprayed Oust in there and left it for a few hours with the windows closed. It worked! You might want to give it a try. Anon

I am amazed at the effectiveness of the ''Bad Air Sponge''. We bought a used car which had been well-detailed to conceal the stinky smells. After a few weeks, the stench was awful and nothing I tried worked. I came across the Bad Air Sponge at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It absorbs the odor w/o leaving a perfumy smell. You can check the website for an explanation of how/why it works ( Jane

Smelling cigarette smoke everywhere!

Nov 2007

I don't smoke and have never smoked and detest the scent of cigarette smoke but in the last few weeks I've been smelling the scent of cigarette smoke everywhere even when no one around me is smoking! When I go to work, I see and steer clear from people who smoke on the job and/or on the street b/c I can't stand the second-hand smoke that will make my noise bleed but lately the scent has just followed me. I don't know what's wrong with me? Anyone ever experience this? Smoky

Maybe you are pregnant. been there

Are you female? Are you pregnant? This happened to me and it turned out I was pregnant! Hopefully the bay area will get with it and outlaw smoking in public soon! searching for clean air

I thought I was the only one with this weird thing! I've been going through occasional periods for the last three years where I smell stale cigarette smoke all the time. I've come to realize that there's no actual smoke that I'm smelling --it's just some strange perception on my part that everything smells that way. I've decided that it happens during periods when my neck/shoulder muscles are really knotted up, so I figure that causes some effect on the neural pathways that affects my smelling functions. I mentioned it to my chiropractor and she thought that made sense. I'm not too worried about it because it always goes away, and seldom lasts more than a week. hates smoke

Consider getting a referral to a neurologist. Experiencing scents which are ''not there'' can be due to olfactory hallucinations which can, in turn be related to a form of epilepsy. Robert

Are you pregnant? I am like you - I can't stand the smell of smoke. In a non-pregnant state, I hate it and avoid it but deal. While pregnant - I'm now at 30 weeks with number 2 - I can smell it if someone lights up down the street and feel sick at the smell of it. Many times, my husband can't smell what I'm smelling... Just a thought! anon

Are you pregnant? Many pregnant folks have a stronger sense of smell. Congrats if you are. anon

Getting cigarette smoke out of blankets & clothes

Oct 2007

I just received a gift of blankets and clothes for my 2 month old from my father. Unfortunately he and the folks he lives with smoke. Everything reeked. After 3 washings, I feel like I can still smell traces of cigarette smell. Any sugesstions for how to rid these items of the scent? casey

Next time you wash the items include a good glug of white vinegar - half to a whole cup. If that doesn't work, try soaking the items in water with a similar amount of vinegar before washing for an hour or so. It removes an amazing variety of odors and doesn't leave its own scent. laundry lady

soak in baking soda with water overnight, or put in a plastic bag with a paper towel with some essential oil of lavendar (which is what i do with cashmere sweaters after a night someplace smokey). anon

Child's room smells of burnt matches

Dec 2006

For as long as we can remember, our now 13 month old child's nursery has smelled like burnt matches when you open the door. We always thought it was funny... but that it was just his smell. The rest of the house does not smell. There is no plumbing in his room or gas outlet. The only thing in there is the diaper genie (which we don't think is the culprit). Has anyone heard of anything like this? Thanks anon

Never heard of this, but a very good air purifier would work. We have one that you have to buy through a distributor and was able to find another on e-bay for our children who had a serious mold problem and the mold problem is gone. It's an Ecoquest Flair. It's great for the whole house. km

I have noticed a similar smell in our bathroom while showering and was able to trace it to a specific plastic bath toy in our toy hammock. But for awhile I really thought I was smelling smoke. I imagine it's some kind of off-gassing and probably not a good thing to have in your baby's bedroom. Try to track down the source of the smell and get it out of the room (or house, even!) anon

Please call an electrician to check your light fixture! We had a similar problem with a strange, sort of smoky smell that we noticed in our child's room a few times, but it seemed to fade. Then one day it got noticably worse and we searched and searched for the problem to no avail. Finally we realized that it had to be the overhead light fixture. Sure enough, when the electrician removed the fixture the insulation on the very old wires inside the ceiling had overheated and started to crack/burn off, exposing the wires. We had all of our lights checked and a couple were in similar shape. The electrician was able to slip new insulation over the wires so it wasn't too expensive, since he didn't have to replace the wires all the way back to the box. We're so glad we figured it out - don't know if you have the same problem but it's definitely worth a look Anon

Getting Cigarette Smoke Smell Out Of The Car

Sept 2006

We recently bought a used car that smells heavily of cigarette smoke. Any suggestions or testimonials about how or what will take the oder out would be great. We prefer a product that doesn't have a strong chemical oder (ie Fabreeze). Thanks

I once heard on Car Talk that one should use an open can of coffee to deodorize a car. (You might check their web site for other ideas: columns/) I think you just leave the open can in there for awhile. This obviously wouldn't work if you hate the smell of coffee. -Kara

How to get rid of previous occupants' cigarette smoke smell?

July 2005

We just bought a house where the previous occupants smoked, apparently a lot. Has anyone had any success getting rid of the smoke smell? Any recommendations for companies that specialize in carpet cleaning to remove smoke smell? In fact, any recommendations for companies that specialize in all aspects of removing the smoke smell? I've read a lot of different ideas on the internet for getting rid of the smell, but it would be great to hear from someone who has actually gone through the experience, and what worked. louis

Hi. We dealt with the same issue when we bought our house, the smell was awful, the owner had lived in the house for something like 50 years and must have smoked like a carton a day, when we got the house we washed down all the surfaces with water and bleach using a floor mop, even the ceilings. Then we got the huge drums of Kilz oil based primer and put two coats on every surface, ceiling, wall, trim, closets, doors, kitchen cabinets, windows, I mean everything. Be sure to ventilate your house well while you use this type of paint as it is really stinky. The good thing about the oil based primer is that it will seal in any lead paint that may be in the house as well as seal in the smell, it also dries very fast so keep that in mind when painting with it, you'll go through rollers pretty fast as they get gummed up. Then we painted over with latex. No more smoke smell, just keep windows open and run a fan after you finish to help the paint smell get out of the house. You can find Kilz at Home Depot. amber

SCRUB! scrub ALL of the walls and the ceilings, and every other surface in the house really really well. Smoke (and tar, and nicotine, etc) builds up on the walls. We had to do this after my mother (who was a very heavy smoker) died in preperation to sell her house. Use any type of cleaner (can't remember what we used) and just scrub the heck out of every surface (also any floors that aren't carpet.) You may then want to go ahead and repaint everything, just to get a clean top layer. (This is a big pain, I know. You may want to hire a cleaning service to do it.) Get all carpets and drapes, etc, professionally cleaned. Also - if you have central heating there may be a coating of smoke,etc in the vents/air ducts/etc, so you may want to get those cleaned too?? Good luck Been There, Cleaned That

Getting rid of fireplace smell

Dec 2002

I bought a house a few months ago and used a fireplace a few times with no residual effect. When I used my fireplace last time a lot of smoke came into the house. Since that time my house smells like a fireplace itself. Is there any way to get rid off smell? Does anyone know why this happened? Is it a problem with the chimney? Can the wind or the rain outside reverse the way the smoke goes? Any advice will be greatly appreciated. Julia

We had some trouble with our chimney when we first moved into our house. We had several chimney companies come over and give us estimates and explanations of the various problems and possible solutions. I can't remember how the ratio of fire box to chimney diameter works or even if that may be the cause of smoke entry for you, but in our case lengthening the chimney solved the problem for us and was fairly cheap.

The smoke smell was a bit of work to get out but not difficult. We washed the walls, woodwork, ceiling and miniblinds with a solution of Simple green and water. (Simple green is fabulous for greasy smokey fire damaged stuff.) The curtains had to be laundered. The smoke had stayed high in the room so the upholstery, carpets and floor were fine. (Now I know why youare supposed to crawl out of a building in a fire). Follow your nose to see what soft surfaces need to be cleaned. If there is residual smoke/soot on hard surfaces, they'll be grey/dirty and greasy looking esp easy to spot on light colors. Good luck, e-mail if you want more particulars. Natalie

If you haven't tried already, the walls may need deodorizing : 1 Tbs baking soda + 1 tsp lemon juice to 2 cups hot tap water in a spray bottle. Keep on as long as the paint/wall paper doesn't get ruined (test in a hidden area). You can also deodorize with 1/4 cup baking soda (Arm & Hammer is o.k. - I get them in a large 10+ lb box)in hot tap water in a 2- gallon bucket and sponge on lightly. This much will clog a nozzle in a bottle.

I assume you've steam-cleaned & shampooed the carpet and upholstery. If not, or you can't afford it, you could sprinkle baking soda all over the carpets and leave overnight. Next, shampoo carpets and upholstry with: a 1/4 cup of a vegetable-oil- based liquid soap (i.e from Trader Joe's or any natural grocery store), and 5 gallons of water. Adjust depending on the volume taken by the shampooing machine you rent. If you decide to add some essence in the water (usually oil-based), beware not to add more than a 1/4 tsp. to 5 gallons of water, since oil will bind with the soap, making the soap less effective in solubilizing other oily substances in the carpet and removing it. Depending on the hardness of your water, if you get too much foam, decrease the amount of liquid soap or add a bit more of the essence based in oil. Next load of hot water, add less soap. If you want the convenience of a prepared bottle, you can purchase from Grany's at 818-577-1825 orAFM at 1-909-781-6860. Both in CA

For air deodorizing, try bowls of baking soda in several areas of the room or bowls of vinegar, or bags or zeolite, a natural mineral found near volcanoes. Get it from Dasun Company 1-800- 433-8929.

Parents for a Safer Environment is a grass roots organization working with other non-profit organizations and government agencies to educate schools and parents about safer alternatives to unnecessary environmental hazards in schools and in our local neighborhoods. Please look in future ''Announcements'' on how you could get your pre-school involved in our May, 2003 workshop- conference. Susan