While you may enjoy the first whiff of smoke from a roaring fire or the scent of a good cigar, smoke smells quickly get old when they linger in your house and settle deep into home furnishings. The lingering odors are caused by the small particles of ash, nicotine, or cooking grease that settle on surfaces. While air fresheners can mask the odors temporarily, it takes some thorough cleaning to get rid of smoke smell in your house. If you have an extensive kitchen or house fire, consult a professional cleaning service to tackle the smoky odors. For campfire or cigarette smoke, try these tips to remove the linger smoke smell in your home.
How to Prevent Smoke Smells in the First Place
- Be sure the fireplace damper is open before starting a fire and remove the ashes after every use.
- Have the chimney flue inspected and cleaned yearly.
- Do not leave cooking food unattended in the oven or on the stovetop.
- Do not allow cigarette or cigar smoking indoors.
- To help confine cigarette smoke to one room, close doors to the rest of the house.
- Close the HVAC return vent in the smoking room to prevent the smoky air from being recirculated throughout the rest of the house.
- Monitor open flames on candles, wax warmers, and chafing dishes carefully to prevent fires.
- Keep small heating appliances away from drapery and upholstery to prevent fires.
- Use an air purifier and change the filters regularly.
What You'll Need
- Baking soda
- Distilled white vinegar
- Lint-free cloths
- Fabric refresher spray
- Step stool or ladder
- All-purpose cleaner
- Soft-bristled brush
- Washing machine
- Carpet cleaner
- Microfiber duster
How to Get Rid of Smoke Smells
- Increase ventilation. Open windows and doors to increase the airflow in the room as soon as you detect smoke smells (unless, of course, the smoke is coming from outside). Turn on ceiling fans and add a circulating fan.
- Remove ash. Empty ashtrays or remove any cold ashes from the fireplace. Take them outside and place them in an appropriate receptacle.
- Use vinegar. Pour distilled white vinegar into several small bowls and place them around the room where they will not be disturbed. The vinegar will help absorb the odors.
- Wash accessories. Toss any washable accessories like pillows, curtains, or bedding in the washing machine. Boost the freshening power of your regular detergent by adding one cup of baking soda to the wash water.
- Use baking soda. Sprinkle upholstered furniture and carpets with dry baking soda. Work it in lightly with a soft-bristled brush. Let it sit for at least four hours—eight is better—before vacuuming away.
How to Wash Walls to Remove Smoke Smell
- Remove dust. Before you wash walls for any reason, use a microfiber duster to remove cobwebs and dust. There's no need to smear them around on the walls.
- Prepare cleaning solution. Mix 1 teaspoon all-purpose cleaner and 1/2 cup baking soda per quart of warm water in a bucket. Stir well to mix. Fill a second bucket with clean water. Prepare more of the cleaning solution as needed.
- Start at the top. Dip a sponge or microfiber cloth in the soapy solution and wring it out well to prevent drips. Start at the top of the wall and wipe gently. Rinse out the sponge or cloth often as the soil is transferred. Work in a grid so that you cover the entire wall as you move the ladder.
- Rinse the wall. Use a second clean sponge to rinse the wall with clear water to remove any soapy residue. Wring the sponge until just damp to prevent drips on your freshly cleaned wall. Change the rinse water frequently.
How to Remove Smoke Smells From Upholstered Furniture
- Vacuum the upholstery. Use the vacuum's hose, upholstery brush, and crevice tool to vacuum the upholstery. Start at the top and cover every inch including the sides and back of the furniture. Smoke smells can cling to the dust and dirt.
- Sprinkle with baking soda. Sprinkle the upholstery liberally with dry baking soda.
- Brush it in. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently work the baking soda into the upholstery fibers.
- Give it time. Allow the baking soda to remain on the fabric for four to eight hours to absorb the smoke smells.
- Vacuum away odors. Use the upholstery brush and crevice tool to vacuum away the baking soda.
- Use fabric refresher. If odors remain, spritz the fabric with a fabric refresher spray that traps odor molecules.
How to Remove Smoke Smell From Carpets and Rugs
- Vacuum the carpet. Vacuum the carpet or rug well to trap dust and dirt. If you are using a vacuum with a disposable bag, toss it in the trash when you're done to prevent recirculating the odors.
- Use baking soda. Freshen the carpet or rug by sprinkling liberally with baking soda. Allow it to sit for at least eight hours before vacuuming the baking soda away.
- Use fabric refreshing spray. Spritz the carpet with a fabric refreshing spray to trap the odor-causing molecules.
- Try a steam carpet cleaner. Thoroughly clean the carpet using a wet cleaning solution and steam carpet cleaner. You can do this yourself with a rented machine or hire a carpet cleaning company.
Tip: An extra measure you can take is to invest in an air purifier, which will also improve overall air quality in your home. If you live in an area that is regularly affected by wildfire smoke, this could be especially valuable, as repeated smoke inhalation poses a serious health risk. This is also a great idea if you live with someone who smokes. If you have an air purifier, remember to replace the air filters frequently, as they may be harboring smoke particles. Also replace the air filters of your HVAC system if your house has one, and don't forget to clean the air vents.
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