By Diane Schmidt. Moving Expert
Diane E. Schmidt is a published author who owes her succession of moves to growing up on a fifth-generation farm where the longing for change was deeply rooted. Read more
So you've moved into the perfect home or have found a great apartment and want to settle in. but there's just one problem: the previous residents were smokers and your new home smells of cigarette smoke. This is not an easy problem to fix, but with time, patience and a lot of hard work, you'll be smelling sweet, clean air again.
How to Get Rid of Cigarette Smoke
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Check your rental lease to see what your rights are as a tenant. The landlord may be responsible for getting rid of the smell and/or paying for any costs associated with the cleaning (i.e. hiring professionals).
Also, it's important to understand that while air and fabric fresheners cover the smell of smoke, they won't get rid of it - they simply mask it for a while. The smell will always come back.
- Clean the Air: Fresh air is your friend so open all windows. Get as much fresh air into your home as possible. While this won't get rid of the smell, it'll help. Also, set bowls of white vinegar around your home, at least one per room (depending on the room size). Just make sure small children and pets are safe.
If you have an air purifier or can borrow one or two from friends, this is a great way to decrease smoke smell. It takes time for the air to become clean, so I suggest keeping the purifier in the room you use the most. In the day, that might be the kitchen or home office. At night, the bedroom. This is essential for any family member that is allergic to cigarette smoke.
- Clean Walls and Ceilings : When it comes to smells cleaning the entire home is key. It's important to know that ceilings are the worst culprits for retaining smoke. Many people make the mistake of cleaning just the walls of their home, thinking that will be enough. But it's probably more important to thoroughly clean the ceilings, too.
Use cleaning products that contain ammonia and glycol - key ingredients for neutralizing the smell. Just be aware that these are harsh chemicals so you need to keep pets and small children out of the room you're working on. Test an area of the walls and ceiling first just to see how the paint will withstand the cleanser. Do one room at a time.
After cleaning thoroughly and letting surfaces dry, smell the walls. Can you still smell cigarette smoke? If you can't - great! But make sure you keep checking after a day or two; the smell of the cleaner may be masking the smoke. If you
can still smell smoke, you should consider repainting the walls and ceilings. Talk to your local paint store about your problem. They can sell you a sealant that should be applied to the walls and ceilings first before repainting. This will seal off the smell and prevent it from seeping through your new paint job.
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- Clean Carpets: Carpets are responsible for retaining a lot of the smell. If you have carpet in your home, first try to clean it yourself. Use a strong rug cleaner. Make sure you spread the product generously around the room, getting into corners and covering floor edges. Follow the instructions, leaving the product on for the maximum time allotted. Vacuum thoroughly. Let the carpet dry, then do a smell test.
If you can still smell smoke in the carpet, you may need to hire professionals to do a deep cleaning. Call some professional companies for quotes, letting them know that you need to get rid of smoke. In the end, paying someone to get rid of the smell in your carpets is a good investment. If you're renting, make sure you talk to the landlord first. The landlord should be paying for the treatment. Again, check your lease.
To clean non-fabric or non-wooden blinds, place the blinds in the bathtub. Fill the bathtub with hot water and a cup of vinegar. Let blinds soak in the tub for 15 minutes then scrub them using a fine scrub brush. Hang blinds to dry. For other types of material (wood or fabric) follow the above instructions for wood floors or drapes.