How to Get Rid of Cigarette Smell in Your House, Car, Hair, and More

How to Get Rid of Cigarette Smell in Your House, Car, Hair, and More

Eliminate Smoke Odor for Good

When we finally decided to invest in our lake cottage, it also smelled of years of smoke. Not the kind of relaxing getaway we were hoping for, you know?

When we purchased this home, we noticed a stale smell, but every time we unpacked our bags at home, we couldn’t wait to wash everything – clean or dirty!

Our clothes and bags reeked of stale smoke though no one had smoked in the home for years. I needed a smoke smell removal trick that really worked, and fast.


After crowdsourcing how to get rid of smoke smell on Instagram we  tried several methods. Many of them require investment of time and money but I was willing to try anything.


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6. Lay Out Apple Halves

Grab some apples to freshen up your home. Apples are surprisingly good at absorbing odor. I've found that his method works best in small spaces.

  1. Cut an apple in half or into slices.
  2. Leave them overnight in areas of your house or car that have a strong smoke odor.

Not only will they take away the smoke smell, but they will leave your house or car smelling like apples! This also works with other produce, like pears and potatoes. It's not an exact science, but some foods—like fruits, dairy, and bread—can absorb odors easily.

Removing cigarette smell from your breath

  • Brush your teeth. If you smoke, brushing, flossing, gargling with mouthwash and using a tongue cleaner after each cigarette is the best way to remove odor. Brushing your teeth after each cigarette will also help reduce the staining that tar and nicotine can cause on your teeth.
  • Try a lozenge. Hard candies, cough drops, breath mints, and gum can also help keep the smell in check.

Keep in mind that cigarettes cause the inside of your nose to smell, which can also affect the smell of your breath.

Smoke Smell Removal Secret

After I mentioned this smell to my friend Allyson, she let me in on a little secret…volcanic rock. I’ll be honest, I was skeptical. Really skeptical. 

With nothing to lose but $7, it was worth a shot, right?

Find your own volcanic rock here. It’s a truly effortless way to get rid of smoke smell in your home, car, or anywhere!

While we were working on updating this home, we repainted, changed flooring, fixtures and more. Nothing eliminated the smoke smell completely until we tried the volcanic rock!

3. Lay Out Bowls of Charcoal

Charcoal is an effective, non-toxic cleanser that is often used to detox the body and to filter bad tastes from drinking water. It is also used to filter air because of its amazing ability to absorb contaminants and strong odors, like that of cigarette smoke.

  1. Place the charcoal into several small bowls or containers.
  2. Leave the containers around your room or inside your car for a couple of days.
  3. If the smell isn't gone, dump the old charcoal and replace with a new batch.

Using many smaller containers is better than one large container because it increases the surface area used to absorb lingering odors. You can also replace the charcoal as needed without wasting a bunch of unused charcoal.

What Type of Charcoal Should I Use to Remove Odors?

Both activated charcoal and the regular charcoal briquettes you use for the grill are effective at removing odors.

Some people recommend using activated charcoal, or activated carbon, because it is processed to make it more porous, increasing its surface area and maximizing its ability to absorb odors, contaminants, and toxins.

Activated charcoal comes in both powder form and in capsules, and can be found at almost any grocery store, drug store, or home supply store.

Charcoal briquettes contain some impurities that can make them slightly less effective than activated charcoal. Nevertheless, briquettes are still useful for getting rid of bad odor. To maximize their potential, you can increase their surface area by grinding them into a powder.

Not many people know that coffee grounds can absorb unwanted odors like cigarette smoke.

7. Cleanse Carpets and Rugs

Carpeting could be one of the biggest headaches to clean. It doesn’t matter how careful your tenants are, carpets are like ‘silent vacuum’ – they eventually pick up all the tiny dirt, spills, and the invisible cigarette smoke molecules from all the years of smoking.

Start by sprinkling baking soda over the carpet or rug, wait for 10 minutes, and vacuum the carpet intensely for up to 30 minutes. Then, spray a light mist of one part of white vinegar mixed with two parts of water onto the carpet or rug. If the odor persists, unfortunately, it’s probably time to say goodbye to your carpet. If the carpet isn’t replaceable, you may need to hire a professional carpet cleaner to take care of it.

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.

The bottom line on how to get smoke smell out of your house

Start by airing out the house in general. Then use robust cleaning products to clean all hard surfaces. Then wash all carpets and any fabric-covered areas. Clean all air ducts and replace air filters. To finish the job, you can follow up with an air purifier and an ozone generator.

Frequently Asked Questions

What percentage of tobacco residue stays in people’s homes?

Research has found that 70%-90% of nicotine and chemicals can remain as residue inside people’s homes.

Does painting a property get rid of the smoke smell?

Because paint is porous, it is tough to get rid of the smoke smell completely from a wall. It’s best to re-paint. Clean the wall first, then use an odor-sealant primer before you start painting.


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