Cigarette Smell In Apartment

topic posted Wed, January 10, 2007 - 2:58 PM by  Kathryn
Hello, All! I just moved into my first apartment-without-roommates, and it's cheap and in some bad disrepair. The landlord is, dis-interested in upkeep, but the place is cheap enough it's still worth my while. The first item on my agenda, now that I'm mostly settled in, is getting rid of the lingering smell of cigarette smoke in the apartment. I scrubbed all the walls twice (covered in yellow residue), and the smell is mostly gone, but it's still present enough to get into my comforter and the coats, and I was wondering if anyone knew some good tricks to getting rid of this perniscious scent!
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  • eeew, im sorry.

    i dont have any advice beyond the obivious stuff, like airing it out.

    hope you are at least getting a stellar deal on rent, i would never ever consider moving into a place that smelled of cigarettes.
    • Kathryn -
      Try putting baking soda on the carpets to soak up the odor. Also, if you can open the windows and air it out that might help.

      I'd also recommend changing the furnace filter (if possible).

      Sadly, once the smell of smoke gets into something, it's usually hard to get out.

      For your furniture that is in there, spray it down with Febreeze periodically so the smell doesn't settle in them.
      • there is this product called odoban that they sell at places like sam's club... its a concentrate so you have to dilute it. it gets out a lot of stinky smells!!
        • You might consider painting the walls and replacing the carpeting and pads. I know it's a bit of work and money, but this was what was necessary for me when I moved into my condo a couple years ago (the smoke smell was very very strong).

          I started by applying 2 coats of Kilz latex primer to the walls and ceilings, followed by a coat of good latex paint. I then ripped out all the carpeting and pads and had bamboo flooring installed.

          You might get your landlord to cover the costs of materials if you tell him you will do the work. If replacing the carpeting is not an option, use backing soda as a previous poster suggested. Dump it all over the carpeting and let it sit for a while then vacuum. You may have to repeat this more than once to get all the smell out.

          Also Fabreeze as someone else pointed out is good for hiding smells but it won't really get rid of them at the source.

          good luck and congrats on getting your own place!
          • My parents just bought a 4-plex apartment building. It's nonsmoking now, but one smoker was grandfathered in, he lived there 7 years. Obviously it was pretty ucky. They used the kilz, repainted, replaced flooring and wiped EVERYTHING down with scent-killer cleaner (oxyclean??? I can't remember what it was) and when I went in, there was absolutely NO scent there. About the best advice would be the Kilz before repainting and remove carpet. Hope you fix this!!!
  • Unsu...
    Shampoo the carpets and clean the windows as well.

    Burning a bundle of sage or some cedar and letting the smoke linger as long as possible will help neutralize it.
  • Thanks! Luckily, the landlord agreed to replace the carpeting before I moved in (and in the case of the bathroom, actually put flooring in...before it was just a cement floor.) All the furniture is mine (courtesy of Goodwill, but no strange smells!) The kilz and the odoban and the sage sound good. I've got the odor mostly gone (lots of candle burning) and I should probably continue airing out the place. If anyone else has other ideas, awesome!
    • Better than sage is coffee. It is a very powerful odor eater. get a sacrificial cooking pan and put folgers and nothing eklse in it and heat it up while stirring until it is really smoking andcharring in the bottom. Take it off the burner and parade it through the house. Note, have a fire extinguisher handy just in case. It is important that the coffee grounds are burning hot as it releases oils in it into the air. When done, throw the pan away as anything you ever cook in it will be coffee flavored.

      This is strong enough to get rid of that "dead rodent" smell so tabaccy should cover well...

      Also, painting helps a lot but get the slumlord's permission in writing so he can't charge you for painting the walls purple and orange when you move out...

      Good luck and I hope you like coffee,

  • Unsu...
    ozonate your place
    • Try this - it worked for me when I moved in after a smoker:

      Buy a big can of coffee - like folgers; divide it up into small bowls or other open containers and place them throughout your apartment - putting more where there is more odor, etc. Leave them out for about a week.

      The coffee grounds help to neutralize the odor. This coupled with some nice smelling candles (like you're already using) should help.
  • I'd use the quick fix first, and it's only 3-4 bucks. A can of air born anti-bactorail spray. I like Cloroxe spring mist myself. Spray the entire can in the air, windows closed, air conditioning, or furnace fan on ( the cig. small is in the duct work also) This is a pretty intence smell, so I'd finish up with my arm stuck in thru the door. Give it 30-45 min. You'll be amazed how well this works.
  • I found that <i>scrubbing</i> the walls did wonders, and then painting them after to get whatever I coudln't wash off the paint/panelling. Cigarettes leave a weird kind of film on everything. After I scrubbed the walls, they were like 10 shades whiter again, as well as smelling better. It was astonishing. And the idiot ex boyfreind tried to act like he wasn't smoking in the house when I was at work, like I couldn't tell by seeing it, smelling it, and the extra asthma attacks?
    • Unsu...
      I second the Febreeze and Kilz before painting! Add a few drops of an essential oil to your paint, too.

      As for carpets, get Mule Team Borax and dust the carpets let it sit for a few hours ( go for a walk) and then vaccum. Borax in anything else you can wash and put in the laundry will get rid of ALL smells. Totally safe for pets and about $2.50 a box!
      • When I moved into my home in late July the smell would've knocked you down. The previous owner smoked 3 packs a day and NEVER cleaned anything.

        Here's what I did. Get a new spray bottle, fill one fifth with ammonia, the rest water. Spray the walls and cieling, wiping up with a paper towel. You will see the difference as the smoke residue comes off.

        Then set some bowls of white vinegar in the middle of the room. I had to put them in all the cabinets, too.
        I got rid of the curtains, curtain hardware, anything else plastic like paper towel holders or soap dishes, oh, and the carpets. It took about two months to completely remove the stink. But now its gone.

        Once the smell is gone, its okay to paint. If you can't pull up the carpets, I second the Borax suggestion. Borax is also a great cleaner for kitchens and baths.
  • BIO-ZAP... do a Net search for the stuff. It will get rid of smoke smell instantly. I use to sell it at my Dad's paint store when I was a kid... the stuff is truely amazing and non-toxic! A friend of mine puked in my car and Bio-zap got rid of the smell and kept me from selling my car.

  • i hear this works:

    get a few ripe pineapples, like 2 per room. 1 for the bathroom. slice them in half, then set them out for 24 hours or more with all the doors and windows sealed. they emit some kind of neautralizing acid and it's suppose to render odors gone. hope it works, if you try it out let us know how it goes :-)

    this works good for the car too, only need 1 half
    • WHAT A LOT OF GREAT IDEAS! My favorite one is the one with the pineapples. . .it's hard for me to believe that could actually work but I am amazed at the possibility. Pineapples can help your digestive system, so why not?? Most people know about dried papayas but dried pineapples are also great for helping the tummy do its job.
      • Make tomato bolognaise or marinara sauce - simmer it for a few hours. I found this is v good for paint smells - it should help a bit with the fag smoke, plus you can eat it later. Yummy :)
        Tomatoes are a very effective odor eater. (re: skunk spray)

        • I would say houseplants! They are a natural air filter and they work *wonders*. I have a friend who smoked inside her house for years. Granted her house has hardwood flooring, having a multitude of houseplants saved her house from smelling like a permanent ash tray.

          On a similar subject, I found this snippet from and online article:

          NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America did a two year study that confirmed the idea that plants clean air, inside or out. As a matter of fact, plants can clean up to 87% of indoor pollutants, given the right circumstances.

          Any houseplant will help reduce indoor air pollution, but some are more effective than others. The list of plants varies from expert to expert, but most commonly recommended are:
          English Ivy
          Peace lily
          Mums and daisies
          Spider plants

          Good Luck!!
  • Hi Kathryn -- I don't know if you're open to spending more money on this project, but my recommendation would be a good air purifier.
    I know they work since I use them and have sold them for a company that markets through network marketing. I still have a couple units left and have been selling them for my cost . Let me know if you want to consider-- I can still get the 3 year parts and labor guarantee on them, too.
    Somebody below suggested ozone and they were exactly right. An air purifier is something you would run all the time so it keeps all kinds of odors out ,plus dust, dust mites, and all the other floaties you see in the air you're breathing. Especially great if you have any allergy or asthma symptoms .
    Let me know. I'll monitor this thread for your answer.
    Or my email is in my profile.
    • I like the Alen Air Purifiers - two of them going on low all the time - raises your electrical costts, cannot be justified ecologically, but it does the job kinda IF there's no NEW bad air coming in from adjacent units.
  • Kat- there's a product called vamoose 1808t that works very good at removing cigarette smell. Spray the apartment and let it work.
    • I wold say what I most likely to do is burnn lots of incense or sage. You can pick up Sage at about any head shop, smells great and is supposed to drive out evil spirits.
      If you have furnature that badly smells of it, sprinkle some pennyroil on it. Penyroil kills everything. From bugs, to smells, to even abortions.
  • Unsu...
    I had a problem with smoke smells too. I painted and had the carpets cleaned, but it didnt work to well. It got most of it out. I could still smell it though. I used a product called "smoke odor and stain" remover. It worked really good. There are no more smoke smells. The stuff even gets red wine of the carpet.

    I got it off of this website if you are interetested.

    just copy and paste link goes right to the product.

    I hope this helps you like it helped me.
    Have a good day.
  • I've seen candles for sale in floral shops that are specifically for cigarette smoke.

    Regular candles help cancel cooking odors, so they might also help.

    I would put on my 'charming' voice, call an expensive apt complex - ask the property mgr what they do for those odors.

    Some better carpet & upholstery cleanering professionals, do restoration after house fires - I'd check with them too.

    Good luck,

  • For a quick fix to a smell which is not engrained – put a pan filled with water in your oven and put about five or six drops of vanilla essence into the water. Heat up the oven and hey presto ! A secret from Real Estate Agents.
  • I love apartment living, but the downside is you don’t know anything about the people that lived there before you. So many times I have moved into apartments that just had horrendous smells. Sometimes it was heavy cigarette smoke odor, pet urine smells, burnt food or other smells that are just unidentifiable. I tried a few things, but I found this odor eliminator that worked really well that was recommended to me by my mother. It works great and is safe around kids and pets because it is environmentally friendly. You can find it at
  • I have had a lot of success with Room Shocker. It's a great product! It's easy to use and actually works! It works like a fumigation bomb, but for odors. It kills the odor at it's source. I use this stuff for everything, including cigarette smoke. It got out that nasty smell and it never came back. Check it out at
    • Unsu...
      Room Shocker is Chlorine Dioxide.
      It's toxic.
      It is used for decontamination of Antrax contamination water treatment it is a viruscide.,

      Amounts of the stuff in air greater than 10% can explode.

      Conditions contributing to instability: Chlorine dioxide is a very unstable material even at room temperatures and will explode on impact, when exposed to sparks or sunlight, or when heated rapidly to degrees C (212 degrees F). Airborne concentrations greater than 10 percent may explode.
      Incompatibilities: Contact with the following materials may cause fires and explosions: carbon monoxide, dust, fluoroamines, fluoride, hydrocarbons (e.g., butadiene, ethane, ethylene, methane, propane), hydrogen, mercury, non-metals (phosphorus, sulfur), phosphorus pentachloride-chlorine mixture, platinum, or potassium hydroxide. Chlorine dioxide reacts with water or steam to form toxic and corrosive fumes of hydrochloric acid.
      Hazardous decomposition products: Toxic and corrosive gases and vapors such as chlorine gas or the oxides of chlorine may be released when chlorine dioxide decomposes.

      It does attack molecules and oxidize them It also rips electrons off molecules like any corrosive will. The latter may contribute to any deoderizing effect it has more so than oxidizing.

      On the up-side it is an unstable molecule so iut will dissipate quickly.

      • It would be a good idea to immediately evacuate the apartment and go away for the weekend right after opening the package of this product
        • Unsu...
          ********immediately evacuate the apartment and go away for the weekend **********


          I know of a floor tiling job where the crew put muriatic on the concrete to etch it. Then they went away for the weekend without hosing it off and neutralizing it.
          That was a big mistake. They wrecked the concrete etched the plumbing pipes clean through wrecked the walls and chewed up the woodwork.

          When they returned Monday they had some Splainin' to do.
  • Unsu...
    Cigarette smoke goes EVERYWHERE!! The walls, ceilings, intake vents, carpet, furniture. The only way to get it out is to clean or replace everything. Repainting the walls and ceiling is the best way to go. As well as shampooing the carpets (if you can't afford to replace it) and then put a deodorizing powder on the carpet after it dries and vacuuming it up. You can find the powders in any walmart or supermarket and are relatively inexpensive. (you may have to do it more than once, depending on how bad it is).

    As for furniture like the couches, mattresses left behind, just throw them out and replace them. There really isn't any point trying to shampoo them out because it doesn't work. I heard someone say that it helps to use couch covers, and that is solves the problem but I haven't tried it personally myself.

    You should also clean out the vents as much as possible and replace any filters. It definitely makes a big difference.

    After ALL of that you should buy a spray deodorizer. I bought one for my car when I first bought it and I never had a problem with the smell since.

    It takes a lot of work to get rid of the smell but it CAN be done.

    Good Luck!
  • The smelly aftermath of cigarette odor can be a very challenging one to remove. Fortunately, by using some of the below solutions, you can work to Begin by making a mixture of water and bleach and scrubbing down the walls, flooring and ceiling. Sprinkle baking soda throughout the carpeting and allow it to sit for 24-48 hours. Upon completion, your apartment will be smelling much better. Trust me when I say that I know from experience. My last apartment smelled like an ash tray and this worked like a charm! For more tips, here is a helpful article geared specifically for removing smoke odors from apartments:
  • While we all wish we could have enough money to move into a designer apartment, circumstances force us to accept poor living conditions like this. I really admire your determination to stay behind and clean up the previous owner's mess. To get rid of the smell, you might need to air the room for a longer period of time after scraping the walls and floors. You can even try placing some citrus plants around the house to freshen it up.

    Steve -
    • Why not simply start smoking 60 cigerettes a day or even cigars and then you won't notice the fact that your apartment smells of smoke?
      No expensive redecoration or new carpets needed after all.
      • We may be making a bit too much of this whole smelly apartment thing. After having rigorously cleansed the premises, after having allowed the stink to air out, after having taken the edge off unpleasant aromas by replacing them with something nicer.....
        I think over time it just leaves of its own accord. How long can nicotine stinkiness last? It just has to wear out by itself after a while.
        Sometimes people imagine aroma even after it is no longer there.
        • Well Briggi, as a reformed smoker I must admit that I now have a very sharp sense of smell. I do notice when people have been smoking and I can even pick up the smell from smokers in passing cars.(I can always tell if my daughter's new boyfreind smokes)
          I don't mind the smell, I just notice it without reacting to it or obsessing over it but some people can't do that. (like they never make their own unpleasant smells)
          • --- when I gave up my 20-per-day roll-ur-own nic habit in '92, my sense of smell slowly returned. I then realized that I'd suffered a 60% loss of sense of smell. Even now, I'm only at about 80% of my original smelling capabilities..

            Boy, I'll tell you Man, that tobacco is some debilitating shit!
            • Unsu...
              ************Boy, I'll tell you Man, that tobacco is some debilitating shit! ************

              The hell of it is that tobacco is one of the more nutritious plants going. If they could GM the nicotine out of it it could solve world hunger.
              • Monsanto and multinationals like it, are allready patenting a bunch of frankenfoods anticipating world population peak by 2030. Processed soy & corn products will provide a bunch. Raising each cow requires 200 acres of arable land -- which can be exploited more profitably. Growing soybeans enough to feed 200 may take about 10 acres.
                A person can make a living coming up with developing seeds with enhanced nutrition advantages, or economy growing options. Indeed why not splice a string out of tobacco over onto to soy. I've of heard way worse going on in the industry.
                • maybe it's one acre or five or twenty to raise a cow... depending on other things, but that same land will feed more people planted in soy. Raising meat is becoming more costly and less sustainable as population rises and resources dwindle. And the big seed companies already know that much.

                  Pot is the new tobacco. With rapidly opening legalization of pot, worldwide commercial marketing is sure to follow. Hemp then will lose its stigma and once again become the huge industrial cash crop it always was before the 20th C.
                  • This is the maximum depth. Additional responses will not be threaded.
                    It's closer to one acre for cattle and twenty sheep /acre. The other point that you'll have to bear in mind is that some unimproved land is completely unsuited to arable farming while it is perfect for sheep (besides soya makes me fart huge holes in the ozone layer)
                    • dude, thanks for telling me about your digestion ...

                      you know what? I don't eat soy either - because of its negative impact on estrogen & testosterone levels. But this is not about you or me.

                      Alot of people better get alot more used to soy in their diet -- as animal meat gradualy transitions into a high-ticket luxury item.
                      In coming times watch for meat analogs made from processed soy tofu.

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