How to Get Rid Of Smoke Smell In House

Written by: Greg Chain



Time to read 10 min

Battling with the unwelcome scent of smoke in your house?

This detailed guide offers practical steps for eliminating the smoke smell in the house using simple yet effective techniques.

From natural solutions like ventilation and baking soda to high-tech air purifiers, we’ll show you how to reclaim your clean, fresh-smelling space.

1 Unveiling the Science of Smoke Odors

Have you ever wondered why that smoky smell seems to stick around long after the source of the smoke is gone? 

The answer lies in the complexity of smoke particles. Smoke consists of a complicated mixture of over 400 components, such as:

  • ammonia

  • acetic acid

  • 3-ethenyl pyridine

  • hydrogen sulphide

These microscopic particles can permeate hard and soft surfaces within your house, including clothing fibers, skin, and hair, and linger for days.

Furniture, floors, particularly soft furnishings, and clothing, are like sponges that can absorb and retain these smoke odors.

What makes eliminating smoke odor even more challenging is the ability of smoke particles to settle in hard-to-reach areas, persisting even after thorough cleaning.

Understanding the nature of smoke particles is the first step in effectively eliminating the smoky smell in your home.

Maximizing Natural Ventilation

Starting with the basics—maximizing natural ventilation—before exploring more specific tips is a wise approach.

Fresh air is your first line of defense in the battle against smoke odors. By opening up doors and windows, you allow the fresh air to circulate throughout your home, diluting smoke smells and helping to neutralize and carry away the odors.

To understand how to effectively air out our homes, a more in-depth discussion is needed.

Open Up and Air Out

Opening windows and doors throughout the house is a primary method of creating a cross breeze that helps expel smoke odors. But just opening the windows might not be enough.

To enhance this process, consider using exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen while windows and doors are open. This will help push out the smoke smell by improving air circulation.

Placing box fans facing outward in the windows can take air circulation to the next level. They help to move the smoke-filled indoor air out and draw fresh outdoor air in, speeding up the odor removal process.

Remember, the goal is to replace the stale, smoke-filled air with fresh air to remove the smoke smell.

Consider the Weather

Weather conditions can significantly impact the effectiveness of airing out your home.

Low humidity levels and natural light can enhance the process of airing out a house to remove smoke odor. It is most effective to leave windows open for extended periods during weather conditions that support proper ventilation.

So, the next time you want to air out your home, don’t forget to consider the weather!

The Power of Baking Soda

Moving on from natural ventilation, let’s explore another powerful tool in our arsenal against smoke odors: baking soda.

This common household item has amazing odor-neutralizing properties. Baking soda neutralizes odorous acids in smoke by converting them into salts that are not volatile and have no odor.

We will explore how to utilize the power of baking soda to address smoke odors within our carpets and upholstery.

Carpet Deodorizing

Carpets, in particular, can be a hotspot for lingering smoke odors. Baking soda can be used as an effective deodorizer to remove the smoke odor without washing.

To begin deodorizing, liberally sprinkle baking soda over the entire surface of the carpet. After applying, the baking soda should be allowed to sit for a significant period, preferably at least eight hours, to fully absorb smoke smells.

Once the baking soda has had time to absorb odors, it should be thoroughly vacuumed up from the carpet, completing the deodorizing process. 

This simple yet effective method can help you reclaim your carpet from the clutches of smoke odors.

Upholstery Refresh

Like carpets, upholstered furniture can also harbor smoke smells.

To deep clean upholstered furniture and eliminate smoke smell, sprinkle baking soda on the surface. After applying, gently work the baking soda into the fibers with a brush to enhance its odor-absorbing properties.

The baking soda method for removing smoke odors from upholstery involves the following steps:

  1. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the upholstery.

  2. Use a brush or your hands to work the baking soda into the fabric.

  3. Let the baking soda sit on the upholstery for 4–8 hours to ensure adequate absorption of the smoke odors.

  4. Vacuum the upholstery thoroughly to remove the baking soda and any trapped odors.

This baking soda method is an effective dry technique to absorb odors before vacuuming.

This method allows you to breathe new life into your upholstered furniture and free it from lingering smoke odors.

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Advanced Air Purification Techniques

While natural ventilation and baking soda can do wonders in tackling smoke odors, sometimes they might not be enough, especially if the smoke exposure was extensive or prolonged.

In such cases, we might need to bring out the big guns—advanced air purification techniques.

These methods, which include air purifiers with HEPA filters and ozone generators, are designed to circulate air and capture or destroy smoke particles, significantly enhancing indoor air quality.

It’s time to uncover the process of choosing the suitable air purifier based on your individual needs.

Choosing the Right Purifier

When it comes to choosing the right air purifier, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Avoid ozone and ionic air purifiers when removing smoke particulates, as these are not effective and can compromise indoor air quality.

  • Opt for an air purifier with an appropriate CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate) rating of at least 200.

  • Look for higher fan speeds for optimal smoke removal from the air.

Secondly, consider the maintenance requirements and noise levels of the purifier. Select a low-maintenance, portable air purifier with a noise level around 50 decibels to maximize usability and minimize disruption.

With the right purifier, you can significantly enhance your indoor air quality and make your home a much more pleasant place to be.

Deep Cleaning for Persistent Smoke Damage

Sometimes, smoke damage can be so persistent that it requires a step beyond regular cleaning—deep cleaning. Deep cleaning involves:

  • Thoroughly washing walls, ceilings, and cabinets with a homemade solution of white vinegar

  • Wiping down all light fixtures

  • Maintaining regular cleaning practices like sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming.

We need to delve into the process of dealing with hard surfaces and steam cleaning soft surfaces using warm water.

Tackle Hard Surfaces

Hard surfaces can absorb a surprising amount of smoke odor, and hence, tackling them is an important step in ridding your home of smoke smell. Cleaning agents like:

  • vodka

  • a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and hot water

  • ammonia

  • rubbing alcohol

Our cleaning solution can effectively clean these surfaces, eliminating both cigarette smells and lingering cigarette smells, as well as neutralizing cigarette smoke and removing cigarette smells.

These agents work by dissolving nicotine residues that settle on hard surfaces, thus mitigating smoke smells.

Just remember to ensure the area is well-ventilated when using these cleaning agents, especially ammonia.

Steam-Clean Soft Surfaces

In addition to hard surfaces, soft surfaces can also harbor smoke residue. Steam cleaning offers a versatile method to break down the tar and resin from smoke on these surfaces, facilitating their removal.

Home use steam cleaners can be rented or purchased from local hardware stores for those looking to eliminate smoke odors themselves.

While steam cleaning is effective on both soft and hard surfaces, it is important to avoid using a steam cleaner on delicate fabrics, drywall, unsealed wood, or stone.

With the right precautions, steam cleaning can help you reclaim your soft surfaces from the clutches of smoke odors.

Activated Charcoal: The Odor Absorber

After discussing a range of techniques, from natural ventilation to advanced air purification, let’s explore another natural yet powerful ally in our fight against smoke odors - activated charcoal.

Activated charcoal naturally absorbs odor and can be used to reduce the scent of smoke in a house.

Loose activated charcoal can be distributed into various containers, like bowls, to be placed around a smoke-affected area and absorb odors.

As an alternative to activated charcoal, bowls of white vinegar can also be placed in rooms to help absorb smoke odors.

With activated charcoal, you can naturally and effectively combat smoke odors in your home.

Addressing Tobacco Smell Specifics

While the techniques discussed so far apply to all kinds of smoke odors, cigarette smoke odor presents some unique challenges that need to be addressed.

One of the key challenges is the residual buildup from tobacco that clings to various surfaces and materials in the home, known as thirdhand smoke, which contains stubborn odor molecules.

Adopting a no-smoking policy indoors can help to prevent the accumulation of third-hand smoke.

Proactive measures, such as regular cleaning, can significantly reduce third-hand smoke buildup at home. Addressing these specifics can help you effectively combat tobacco smell in your home.

Revamping HVAC Systems

Given its crucial role in maintaining indoor air quality, addressing the HVAC system is a significant aspect of tackling smoke odors.

To minimize the recirculation of smoke odors, homeowners should replace HVAC air filters and have ducts professionally cleaned to remove residue build-up.

Regular replacement of HVAC air filters is necessary for odor control and is advised every two to three months, or more frequently in homes with pets. Upgrading to air filters with higher MERV ratings can improve their effectiveness at capturing smaller particles, thereby eliminating more smoke-related odors.

Regular maintenance tasks like cleaning of the HVAC coils and condensate pan are vital for preventing allergen build-up and mold growth, which can cause additional odors.

Professional Help: When to Call in the Experts

Despite our best efforts, there might be situations when smoke odors persist, requiring the intervention of professionals.

Furniture that retains a smoke odor may require professional cleaning services despite other removal attempts.

Professional smoke restoration companies may use specialized equipment, such as ozone generators, to effectively break down and eliminate smoke molecules from the house.

If you still can't get rid of smoke smells after trying different methods, don’t hesitate to call the experts.

Rest assured, professional smoke restoration companies have the expertise and tools necessary to tackle even the most stubborn smoke odors, giving you confidence in their ability to restore your property.

Seasonal Strategies for an Odor Free Home

After exploring a variety of techniques to combat smoke smells, let’s end on a fun note with some seasonal strategies for maintaining an odor-free home.

These strategies involve using natural fragrances to keep your home smelling fresh year-round. Here are some ideas:

  • Use a highly effective air freshener from brands like Blunt Power air freshener .

  • Make a DIY linen spray from vodka, essential oils, and distilled water for fabrics.

  • Use lemon basil room spray to freshen up rooms seasonally.

  • Place bowls of dried lavender or potpourri in different areas of your home.

  • Burn scented candles or use essential oil diffusers.

  • Open windows to let in fresh air and natural scents.

You can add a touch of nature to your home with these strategies.

Homemade wax melts with essential oils can be used as a natural fragrance option for your home.

Plant-based carpet deodorizers, using ingredients like baking soda and essential oils, can help eliminate smells from floors. 

You can even create a simmer pot with ingredients like orange slices, cloves, and cinnamon sticks to quickly infuse your home with a warm aroma.

Get creative with your home fragrances! Gel room scents made from gelatin, essential oils, and salt offer a visually appealing way to emit fragrances over time. 

A DIY reed diffuser can be crafted using baby oil and essential oils to naturally distribute pleasant scents in the house. With these innovative strategies, you can maintain an odor-free, pleasant home environment all year round.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are smoke odors so persistent in the home?

Smoke odors are persistent in the home because the complex smoke particles can permeate both hard and soft surfaces, making them difficult to remove. This can linger for days and make the odor hard to eliminate.

How can natural ventilation help in removing smoke smells?

Natural ventilation can remove smoke smells by allowing fresh air to circulate through your home, diluting and carrying away the odors. By opening the windows and doors, this is possible.

How can baking soda be used to remove smoke odors?

You can use baking soda to remove smoke odors by sprinkling it on carpets and upholstered furniture. Baking soda neutralizes odorous acids in smoke and converts them into basic salts, which are not volatile and have no odor.

How can I choose the right air purifier to remove smoke particles?

To effectively remove smoke particles, choose an air purifier with a CADR rating of at least 200, higher fan speeds, and avoid ozone and ionic purifiers. These recommendations will ensure optimal smoke removal without compromising indoor air quality.

What are some seasonal strategies to maintain an odor-free home?

To maintain an odor-free home, consider using seasonal strategies such as effective air fresheners like Blunt Power air freshener , DIY linen spray, homemade wax melts with essential oils, and plant-based carpet deodorizers. These methods can help keep your home smelling fresh and pleasant.


In this journey, from understanding the science of smoke odors to implementing advanced air purification techniques and seasonal strategies, we have explored various practical, effective methods to rid your home of smoke smells.

We’ve learned how smoke particles cling to surfaces, the power of natural ventilation, how baking soda neutralizes odors, and the role of deep cleaning and HVAC maintenance.

The journey to an odor-free home may require a combination of these methods and a bit of patience, but the result—a fresh, inviting home—is well worth the effort.

So, armed with these strategies, go forth and reclaim your home from the clutches of smoke odors. You’ve got this!