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How to Remove Cigarette Smoke From a House

Posted by Johnine Larsen on July 16, 2018
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Cigarette smoke ruins homes, or so most people think. Nicotine settles deep intoeverything, and no amount of scrubbing can remove that odor. Sure, you might find a fixer-upper at a decent price point—but if it smells like old cigarettes, most people give up right then and there.

Truth: Cigarette smoke is very difficult to remove.

Truth: Cigarette smoke is not impossible to remove.

If you’re up for a challenge, a house imbued with old cigarettetarcan let you slip into homeownership for a below-market price. If the time commitment does scare you off, here are our tips for restoring asmoker’s home:


1) Remove and throw out as much as possible

Much of the house will need to be replaced. Nicotine has soaked into these items and damaged them permanently. 

  • Carpets
  • Trim
  • Blinds
  • Outlets
  • Linens
  • Curtains
  • Rugs
  • Furniture


2) Wash all surfaces

Use a TSP solution (Trisodium Phosphate) on everything, and wash with it very thoroughly. Change the solution often, and rinse everything with clean water when you finish. Wear proper safety gear, and dispose of TSP responsibly.

  • Walls
  • Floors
  • Ceilings
  • All woodwork
  • Cabinets (inside and outside)
  • Appliances
  • Closets and pantries
  • ALL surfaces


3) Replace or clean HVAC unit and ductwork

Hire a professional cleaner for the ducts. This can be expensive, so compare cleaning to the cost of total ductwork replacement.


4) Clean windows with a handheld steamer


5) Replace grout in tile floors, backsplashes, and counters

Re-seal when finished


6) Refinish all hardwood surfaces


7) Paint all walls, ceilings, and softwood surfaces with Kilz primer

Softwoods (such as fir) absorbs more nicotine than hardwood.


8) Use an ozone generator



Cigarette smoke is insidious, and removing the smell take a lot of work. But it can be done, and sometimes, it just might be a solution to finding a home in Seattle’s fierce housing market. Want more in-depth tips for fixing up a home? Send us an email!