Tips on how to rid your home of cigarette smells and other nasty niffs

There is nothing worse than moving into a new house, only to find that it stinks of stale cigarette smoke from the previous owners.

We are going to share with you our top tips on how to properly clean your home and banish stale air, nicotine stained ceilings and the pungent whiff of cigarettes.

Smoking used to be pretty much the norm for most people when I was growing up in the 1970’s, but in recent years it has become socially unacceptable, reinforced by legislation after legislation, so if you are a smoker yourself, you could do your family a huge favour and smoke outside, not in the house!

Regardless of that snippet of wisdom, people need to know what steps they can take to get rid that nasty nicotine niff once and for all, and enjoy clean, fresh air at home.

I have to admit, and I may as well admit right from the start that I myself smoke (I know, very bad!), but I stopped smoking indoors, and in the car, when my wife became pregnant with our youngest daughter, 18 years ago.

(This is NOT a post on how to give up smoking by the way, so don’t go there…)

Anyway dear reader, despite my refusal to give up the evil weed, I do still think of others, but what if you have bought a house from a smoker, or if you have wisely given up smoking recently but the smell remains?

UPDATED JANUARY 2020: I’ve given up smoking so this is more relevant than ever before!


Here is how to deal with cigarette and tobacco smells in the home

When tobacco is smoked the smoke itself is laced with TAR, amongst other harmful things.

Most people understand and recognise the effects of second hand smoke, so if you are a senior citizen, for example, and you smoke indoors and you have a dog, that is the same as given poor old Fido his own full strength Marlboro to puff away on each hour

Surreal but frightening too.

OK, the first thing to do is to VENTILATE your home.

Open some windows. It won’t cure the smell, but it will start to help recirculate the air and get at least SOME fresh air in.

That’s not our top tip or anything, it’s a start and a precursor to the advice we are about to give.

Wipe away the residue, wipe away the tobacco smell.

The first, OK the second thing is to get rid of the residue that the smoke has left.

This is a major cause of the smell and wiping clean surfaces around the home will help to alleviate that.

Most cleaning items can be bought cheaply in pound shops, and we recommend Astonish products, amazing stuff, and for the vegans out there, all their products are cruelty free and contain no animal by-products either.

astonish cleaning products

Our opinion of the above line of products is based on actual use by us over the years and NOT as they paid us to say that because (sadly) they didn’t!¬†

You need to clean…..

  • Curtains and all soft fabrics, and then use febreeze on them once cleaned.
  • Scrub and clean all solid floors such as wood and stone.
  • Have all your carpets professionally cleaned or replace them.
  • Wipe down all wooden surfaces such as doors, windows, skirting boards etc.
  • Clean the insides of the windows, both the glass and the frames. (Hint: once you have done this, look at the cloth or tissue you have used and note the brown residue you have removed.)
  • Clean all picture frames too. (Hint: Remove the picture from the wall. Is there a “tide mark” left on the wall? Maybe it is now time to decorate too.
  • Clean all internal glass, mirrors and wall tiles. You may be shocked at the build up of this grime.

Now you have carried out some thorough cleaning, check the state of the walls in your home, as indicate above. Talking of “above”, look upwards too, look at the ceiling. I bet it’s not white!

It may be time to decorate too as this is a great way to get rid of bad smells.

Aaah, paint! I don’t know, maybe I stayed in the paint and wall coating industry since the 1980’s as I absolutely LOVE the smell of fresh paint!

Now you have taken steps to clean away some of that horrid fag smell, it is time to carry out some interior decorating, walls, ceilings and all interior surfaces such as doors and windows.

NOTE: If the walls, and especially the ceiling, are badly stained, this can sometimes “bleed through” paint, especially if it is not great quality paint, so beforehand do a test area to see if it bleeds through. If it does, then you need to apply a sealer.

One of the bad things about getting rid of tobacco-stained interiors is the fact that most cleaners won’t get rid of it. It’s nasty stuff.

I have been told (and this is an old wives tale so I would appreciate a comment at the end if you have done this trick and it works), is to use a mixture of vinegar and ammonia.

Bear in mind the mix will smell like a blend of cat pee and fish n chips (hmm, weird), so use a disposable facemask when applying, and gloves too.

Once you have done this, THEN wait to dry and apply 2 coats of paint on a test area.

If the nicotine still comes through the new paint then you need to SEAL the wall or ceiling before applying any more paint.

I would use Zinsser Cover Stain Primer, which is available for about 13 quid for 5 litres from (Product Code: 17114) and once again I have not been paid to say that.

So once you have cleaned your home, replaced a few bits, made sure the house is properly ventilated, the smell should go away, although make sure you use plug-in air fresheners to help with this too.

get rid of cigarette smell

So hopefully we have taught you how to get rid of the awful smell of tobacco around your home, however if you have taken these steps and still a smell pervades, we have put together some OLD WIVES TALES (!) about how to do this, as a footnote, and you are welcome to suggest any more.

8 tips on getting rid of the smell of ciggies the “Old Wives” way.

  1.  Sprinkle carpets with baking soda. Granny said it works.
  2. Get a selection of houseplants. I am sure my gran had a triffid you know.
  3. Get a slice of white bread (Hey leave my sandwich alone!), put it on a paper plate, soak it with vinegar and place in each affected room. Is this like witchcraft or something?!
  4. Burn a bunch of the herb SAGE, indoors and the smoke will neutralise the odour. OMG my gran WAS a witch.
  5. Collect together all lemon and orange peelings and put them on plates around the house. Don’t eat them.
  6. Fill a pot with water and put some drops of vanilla essence in it. Warm it in the oven and it will help to get rid of the smell. Really?
  7. Use incense (joss sticks) or scented candles in the room. I have tried this and it works but only temporarily.
  8. Lay out an old tray, cover with kitchen foil and then stick some charcoal from the BBQ as it absorbs the smell. Not recommended if you have kids or pets by the way…..

So there you have it, the complete guide to getting rid of the stench of stale cigar and tobacco smells from your home.

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