How To Remove The Smoke Smell From Your House

Congratulations! You finally kicked your smoking habit. Or maybe you just bought a house, and the former owners smoked. Whatever the reason, you want to get rid of the smell now.

A regular old air purifier won’t work, and no amount of costly air filters for your HVAC system will work either. You need a targeted plan for getting rid of that smoke smell.

Remove The Smoke From House
We’ve got some ways you can clean your home of lingering smoke smells once and for all. Let’s take a look.

Before You Start

The single best way to help cleanse your home of lingering smoke odors is to launder blankets, clothing, and any other fabric surface that can be detached and washed. Next, follow up by having furniture cleaned thoroughly.

If you weren’t the smoking culprit, your next biggest solution is to buy the right air purifier for smoke. Standard ones aren’t equipped to filter out smoke odors, so here’s how to know which one to get.

Air Purifiers For Smoke

The majority of air purifiers are designed to rid your home of allergens or particles. Smoke particles are a whole different ballgame.

Choose only the Best Air Purifier for Smoke

You need a purifier designed to remove both the large particles that make up smoke itself and the much smaller particles that make up the odor itself. A true smoke purifier accomplishes this using:

  • a true HEPA filter capable of removing particles .3 microns and larger (for smoke itself).
  • an activated carbon filter for odor control.

Without these two things, your poor filter is just recycling the same old smoky air over and over. Plus, the residue from the smoke means you’ll go through your filters more quickly without reaping the benefits of using a purifier made for smoke. Bummer.

Check the specifications for specifics about room size. You need a filter that’s compatible with the room or with the whole house. If you continually smoke indoors, you may need to invest in more than one purifier.

Ridding Your House Of Smoke: Preparation

We mentioned laundering all fabrics and soft surfaces above, but there’s more to it. You need to remove the source of smoke altogether.

  1. Remove ashtrays and any lingering cigarettes that may still be in the house. Put them in a garbage bag and take it outside immediately.
  2. Open the windows if you can and leave them open. This ventilates the house of smoke but also protects you from cleaning products that may cause respiratory reactions. If you have fans, use them to direct airflow.
  3. Replace all your air filters with new ones to prevent smoky smells from blowing through your HVAC unit. Consider putting small drops of essential oils on your new filters to help permeate the house with a better smell.
  4. Inspect your carpet if you have it. Most of the time, carpet from long-time smoke-filled environments isn’t worth saving. If you can’t replace it just yet, rent a shampooer and clean it until you can.
  5. Consider having the ductwork of your home professionally cleaned. This can remove any tar or smoke residues contributing to the smell.

Remove Smoke From House

Basic Cleaning – Hard Surfaces

Hard surfaces can soak up odors over periods of time, so they aren’t immune from cleaning.

Method 1 – You’ll need:

  • vinegar
  • rag
  1. Spray undiluted vinegar onto surfaces and allow it to sit for a minute.
  2. Gently wipe the surface with your cloth being careful not to leave any wet spots.
  3. Repeat if necessary.

Method 2 – You’ll need:

  • bleach
  • water
  • rag
  1. Dilute the bleach using one part bleach and three parts water. Test inconspicuous areas of your surface to make sure it doesn’t stain or ruin the finish.
  2. If everything is ok, spray the bleach onto the surface and wipe down with your cloth.
  3. Repeat if necessary taking care not to get any on your clothes or carpet.

Basic Cleaning – Plastic Surfaces

Plastic is porous and holds odors. You’ll need to sanitize and deodorize plastics.

You’ll need:

  • white vinegar
  • an essential oil such as lavender or citrus (but any scent you love is fine)
  • cloth
  1. Put a few drops of your essential oil into a spray bottle with undiluted white vinegar.
  2. Spray the surface of your plastics and allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes.
  3. Wipe clean and allow the plastics to air out outside if possible or near an open window and fan if not.
  4. Repeat as many times as necessary.

Cleaning Walls And Other Painted Surfaces – Repainting

Paint itself can store smells, so it’s essential to repaint any areas that came in contact with the smoke.

You’ll need:

  • vinegar or another household cleaner
  • odor control primer
  • paint
  • preparation materials (drop cloths, tape, etc.)
  1. Thoroughly clean the walls and other painted surfaces with vinegar or another household cleaner.
  2. Prime walls using a primer specifically made to control odors.
  3. Paint over the primer using your desired paint.
  4. Allow the painted rooms and other items to dry with plenty of ventilation from outside air. Keep your windows open and fans going if possible.


Once you’ve completed all these steps, be vigilant about hunting down any lingering smells. Your nose will adjust back to the way it was before, and you’ll be better able to hunt down what still smells like smoke.

Place activated charcoal around the house to help your air purifier do its job. Get rid of anything that won’t come clean, and (once again) consider replacing your carpet entirely if you haven’t already. Use essential oils to clear the air of lingering scents.

The more fresh air, the better. Over time, your home will begin to smell less like smoke and more like your home again.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning your home of smoke is a massive project, but it is possible. A combination of revamping soft and hard surfaces, replacing what ’s been ruined by smoke, and using a purifier specifically made for smoke can handle those lingering smoke smells once and for all. Don’t let it deter you from buying a home you love or from kicking all the signs of your former habit. You don’t have to live with smoke no matter what anyone tells you.

Have you ever tried to get rid of smoke smells? Is it because you bought a house with the odor or because of a change in your own habits? Tell us about it in the comments.

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