How to Clear Smoke Out of a Room and Mask the Smell

How to Clear Smoke Out of a Room and Mask the Smell

How cigarette smoke absorbs into your skin, hair, and breath

Cigarette smoke affects the way your skin, hair, and body smell from both the inside and the outside.

On the outside, cigarette smoke deposits a carcinogenic residue on everything it touches, including hair and skin. You may not feel it, but it’s there, releasing a smoky odor.

The absorption of nicotine, both into the lungs and through the skin, also affects the sweat glands. Nicotine makes you sweat more, and taints the way your sweat smells. If you sweat profusely, your skin will start to smell like rancid smoke.

Cigarette smoke coats the inside of your mouth, gums, teeth, and tongue. As any nonsmoker who has ever kissed a smoker will tell you, cigarettes make your breath and mouth smell and taste like a dirty ashtray.

The following solutions will help remove some of the cigarette smell from skin, hair, and breath.


Assess the Damage

No two fires will ever look the same. You must begin your assessment without expectations and try to be as level-headed as possible. The smoke odor removal process will help with the healing, but make sure you’re in the right mindset before beginning. Before going into steps that you can take to remove the smoke smell, you must ask yourself a few questions.

  • How long was the fire going?
  • How much of my home did the fire destroy?
  • Are your walls painted with latex paint?
  • What materials (wood/plastic/upholstery) were burnt?

Walk through your home and analyze the smoke damage. Bring a pen and paper to write down what you see. Take note of whether larger rooms or smaller rooms suffered more. Check your HVAC system, furnace filters, window screens, and any air filters for soot or ash. Make sure your search is slow and thorough so you can come up with a comprehensive cleaning solution to get rid of the smoke odors.

2. Absorb the smoke

Place small bowls of vinegar around the rental unit. Similarly, fill bowls with kitty litter and baking soda to help absorb the odor. If you’re willing to go one step further, grab some powdered activated charcoal from your local pet store or health food store. As one of the best odor neutralizers, activated charcoal is also very affordable. Leave small bowls of activated charcoal around the suite for a few days, and they should slowly start to lift the smells.

If you happen to own an air purifier, make sure to leave them on as well. With the powerful HEPA (High-efficiency particulate arrestance) filtering system as well as activated carbon filters, air purifiers are able to absorb vast majority of the surface chemicals and odor.

Removing cigarette smell from your hair

If you’ve ever left a smoky environment only to revisit the stale smell of cigarettes once your head hits the pillow, you know how much smoke hair can absorb.

  • Rinse and repeat. Shampooing and conditioning your hair is the best way to remove cigarette smell. That goes for beards and mustaches, too.
  • Spray on some dry shampoo. If you can’t wash your hair, dry shampooing can help reduce cigarette odor.
  • Grab a dryer sheet. You can also try rubbing a dryer sheet all over your hair. Make sure to rub your entire head of hair, including the underneath layers.

How Volcanic Rocks Work

  • absorb moisture and odors
  • natural, non-toxic and environmentally friendly
  • place them in discreet places i.e.: under beds, sofas, etc
  • recharge by placing them in the sun

Crazy, right? We started using them last fall, only putting them out in the sun twice and when we returned to our lake cottage this spring, there was absolutely no evidence of odor thanks to these volcanic rocks! They are a truly effective smoke odor eliminator.

I’m still blown away. Who knew it could be so easy?

Volcanic rock is the easiest way to get rid of smoke smell in a house and it works for other odors, too!

How to wash walls to get rid of smoke smell

Although many homeowners swear by using an ammonia mixture to remove smoke smells, there are natural alternatives to harsh chemicals that you can try first. According to Fiona, "A less harsh but also effective method is to mix a good Castile soap with water and essential oils of your choice, and then scrub the walls with a microfiber cloth." 

Tip: You can also make a mixture using ½ cup baking soda, ¼ cup white vinegar, and hot water. This will also help remove any stains on the walls that may be contributing to bad odors. Follow these steps to clean the walls, including making sure the sponge or cloth you're using is just barely damp, not soaking wet, to reduce drips on the wall.

How to Get Rid of Smoke Smell

Here’s a few ideas, many of which we tried. Perhaps a combination of any of these options will work in your home!

  1. Prime and paint.
  2. Remove wallpaper.
  3. Update curtains.
  4. Clean or replace carpet.
  5. Have ductwork cleaned.
  6. Wipe everything down with white vinegar.
  7. Leave bowls of white vinegar out to help absorb scents.
  8. Baking soda in a bowl
  9. Steam clean carpets, window treatments etc.
  10. Volcanic rock – the easiest method!

What if My Home is Covered in Soot?

Sometimes in a house fire, smoke damage residue is left behind. Among other things, soot, made from incomplete combustion of fuels such as wood and oil, is a common residual. The carbon particles cling to household items and emit acids and chemicals into the home, significantly lowering the air quality.

Soot, specifically, is dangerous if cleaned unprofessionally. You risk exposing yourself to unhealthy chemicals while you clean. Plus, unless using proper equipment, you might not remove all the soot from your home. If you notice massive build-ups during your assessment, call an expert immediately.

Don’t want to use chemicals? Here’s how to get smoke smell out of your house naturally

If you’re concerned about toxic or harsh chemicals that may be in some cleaning products, there are several naturally-derived things you can do. Place activated charcoal, apple cider vinegar, or white vinegar in a bowl in each room. If you are a coffee lover, you could also use coffee grounds. All these substances can help to absorb odors in a non-invasive way.

You can also mask the smoke smell with vanilla extract. Use a cloth to wipe it over different surfaces in the home, or put some on cotton balls. You can also do the same with essential oils or use scented candles to get rid of the smell. House plants are also excellent at absorbing chemicals and purifying the air. Buy some and place them throughout the house.

How to Mask Smoke Smell

If the tips above for how to filter smoke from a room are not working or you’re just short on time, you can always try to mask the odor.

Also, if a room has been smoked in or the odor left too long before being attended to, it can get deep into the carpeting, fabrics, and wood.

If that’s the case, masking the smell is good option.

Spray Aerosol Air Fresheners to Mask Smoke Odor

Aerosol air fresheners come in various scents.

You can spray them around your home to effectively mask any unpleasant smells you may encounter.

You can also spray them several times a day if you’d like, but just remember not to spray too much and overwhelm the room with the scent.

Boil Lemons to Mask the Smell of Smoke

Lemons have natural oils that mask smoky odors.

Start by filling a quart pot with water.

Add one or two sliced lemons to this water and bring it to a rapid boil.

Reduce the heat to a slow simmer, and let the lemons and water simmer for 30 minutes.

Let it cool, discard the lemons, and get rid of the water at the end of 30 minutes.

Combine Bread and Vinegar to Remove Smoke Smell

If the smoky smell persists after you’ve tried the lemon and water, try bread.

Take a small bowl and fill it with white vinegar.

Add a piece of bread to the vinegar and stick the bowl in the smoky room.

The smoke will absorb into the bread. You can then throw it away. 

Try Vanilla Extract

If you don’t like vinegar, try vanilla extract.

Add vanilla extract to a small bowl and saturate a few cotton balls.

Set these cotton balls around your smoky room for a few hours.

You can throw them away after a few hours, and you shouldn’t have any more smoky odor. 

Use an Essential Oil Diffuser

You can buy an essential oil diffuser at a store with several essential oils you like.

Set it up in the smoky room, add water to the reservoir, add a few drops of your chosen essential oil, and switch it on.

The diffuser will disperse the oils into the air to eliminate the smoke.

Bottom Line

We hope these tips for how to clear smoke out of a room and mask smoke odor have given you a solid set of tools to pull from the next time a smokey issue pops up inside your home.

As we mentioned above, an air purifier is a great machine to have in your home because it constantly works to clean the air and deodorize odors.

If you use one of the best air purifier for second hand smoke models on a daily basis, you can often rely less on the other methods outlined on this page since it’s working to keep your home fresh 24 hours a day.

8. Finally… Floors

Cleaning hardwood floors is much like washing the wall, except that you can’t use vinegar on it, and you have to choose an appropriate cleaner that doesn’t damage the type of floor you have. Thoroughly damp mop the floor with a mixture of the cleanser and warm water for 2-3 times, changing the water regularly. Do a final rinse, if required by cleanser. As well, hand-scrub baseboards and door frames with the cleanser in a damp sponge.

Smoking decreases property values

A 2013 survey showed that smoking in a home could lower its property value by up to nearly 30%. Moreover, numerous researches have found that the majority of renters prefer smoke-free buildings. Even with this comprehensive, top to bottom refresh, there is no guarantee that your rental space will be rid of all cigarette smoke residuals. Restoring a formerly smoke-filled apartment can be expensive and time-consuming, so it might be a smart idea to adopt a non-smoking policy for your rental property to keep the smokers at bay, if you haven’t already.

It’s a great idea to clearly indicate your smoking policy in your rental listing. Pendo’s Rental Listing Website enables landlords to specify smoking and pet policies. Create your listing website today!

Got any tips for getting rid of smoke odor? Share with us by commenting below!

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