Shop Products
Houzz Logo Print

Smoke smell

20 years ago

How do I get it out of my apt.? Past renters were smokers, we are not, just moved into the place, the first few days were OK but I think it was the new paint and the carpet cleaner that was covering up the smell. Now it is back, any tips on how to get the smoke smell out or at least lighten it a little? I am in MN so opening windows is at the earliest a few weeks away unless there is some sort of freak warm up.

It is really kind of a townhouse no one above or below us and only sharing one kitchen wall so I don't think it is some type of leeching smoke from them(I don't even know if they smoke)

Comments (21)

  • diydana
    20 years ago

    Not all these answers will apply to every situation...
    btw... I feel for you ...I do not smoke and nothing turns me off so much as a baby that reeks of smoke from the parents.. I smell it on plastic bags, clothes and returned plates...yuck!
    No offense smokers....smoke if you got 'em!
    They make ionic air cleaners.
    fabreeze sprayed on carpets.
    scrub stuff with ammonia and water.
    To neutralize the smoke smell, place saucers of white vinegar around the room and near affected furniture. Charcoal or baking powder has a similar effect. Leave it in the room overnight or for several days, preferably with the room closed off. Then thoroughly air out the room again. Sprinkle the carpet with a mixture of 1 cup Borax and 2 cups cornmeal, wait an hour, and then vacuum.
    Set the house on fire.
    Change your furnace filters, vac. cold air returns.

  • Gar6
    20 years ago

    i had this very same issue when i moved into my current place. here are the options...
    *start with the carpet. many carpet cleaning jobs are done as cheaply as possible and do little more than smear dirt/debri deeper into the pile of the carpet. either have the carpets cleaned again with a truck mounted system, or rent a proffesional machine from a commercial rental place. the machine you want is a large container on wheels (around 4x2x4) with a hose and metal wand for spraying/suction.
    *if the walls were painted, then scrubbing them will do no good. but, do scrub every other surface possible with something like pine sol (409 is far too weak). take down window blinds and scrub them too.
    *i have not tried the following option, but if i were to do it all again, i might start here. rent a commercial ozone generator (maybe $30 for the day). lock up the place for a day and let it go to work (air it out after). i hear this will destroy any and all odors.

  • WIKim
    Original Author
    19 years ago

    Well we are not staying here long so I didn't want to go to much trouble or expence. So I did a deoterizer on the carpets and left the place closed up with many cans of carpet depterizer on the carpets for a day and a half. Vaccumed it up and opened up the place for the better part of a day and that seems to have worked. And I think we are getting use to it. A freind that helped us moved said it was better but you could still notice there was a littel something.

    But good enough, at least people don't ask me if I smoke anymore!

  • Gar6
    19 years ago

    indeed, it is a lot of work to remove the residue from previous smokers. id try the ozone machine if it continues to bother you...pretty cheap w/ no work involved.

  • clg7067
    19 years ago

    My apartment was very smoky smelling when I previewed it. They cleaned the carpeting, and maybe painted since then. I moved in about 4 weeks later and it smelled fine. Don't know if they did something extra, but I suspect it was just the matter of the extra time to dissipate.

    Now I find I have smoking neighbors and the smell drifts into my apartment. So I bought an Ionic Breeze Ionizer from Sharper Image and it takes care of the neighbors.

  • ntt_hou
    19 years ago

    If you like candles, use them and place them around the apt. Candles seem to take odors away and if you like scented ones, that's even better!

  • netla
    19 years ago

    I second the candles. It's by far the cheapest way to get rid of odours. Whenever I cook a curry (those exotic spice smells can linger for days) I always keep candles lit and they take away the worst of the smell.

    I did have this problem in one rented apartment, and I solved it by opening windows whenever I could and lighting candles whenever I could not keep the windows open. It took about a month for the smell to go away.

  • debbieg1
    18 years ago

    This is kind of along the same lines as the original complaint... I manage apartments, and often get complaints from upstairs neighbors that don't smoke that they are getting smoke smells from downstairs neighbors. We have found that the biggest place that the smell is coming from other than the shared furnace air ducts is around the water pipes in the kitchens and bathrooms. We used expandable foam to seal around every pipe and drain hole in the second floor units, and the smoke smell has been cut down greatly. Hope this helps.

  • mar345
    18 years ago


  • nfllifer
    18 years ago

    I have a very sensitive nose for smoke and pet smells. Selling homes I need to get rid of smells and apartments have to smell good to be rented out.

    Ozone machines work wonders! If you have a furnace run he fan and switch out the air filters before and after. You can rent these machines from cleaners or rentals.

    If you have carpet a good shampooing will work very well also. When I say good I do not mean rent a rug Dr. Hire a professional. Cost may be a problem I understand

    Candles seem to help BUT the smell may come back.

    Good luck!

  • phcnevada
    17 years ago

    I'll second the Ozone machine recommendation! They are amazing!

  • structure11
    16 years ago

    I third the ozone/air purifier. I lived with 3, yes count them THREE smokers in my apartment who smoked at least a half pack a day inside and I was introduced to a certain brand of air purifier by my friend and it has done wonders. The smoke does not bother me unless I'm sitting right next to them and there is no lingering after effect. I did a free trial with the machine and kept it after about the 3rd day. If you would like some info please email me at

  • lucy
    16 years ago

    Google Vamoose.

  • vacuumfreak
    16 years ago

    You've gotten some great suggestions, please let us know if anything worked. I think that prevention should be used in before a case like this can happen... smokers shouldn't be able to rent, at all, period, ever. Or perhaps they should be charged a 10,000 dollar clean up fee.

  • nfllifer
    16 years ago

    A really cheap option that works well for an overnight hotel. Buy an orange eat it and leave the peals out all around the unit. I've found orange peels to soak up smoke or bad smells and leave the obvious citrus smell. Not sure if its permanet but it will definatly work for a day or two.

  • terrig_2007
    16 years ago

    I once bought a house previously owned by very seriously addicted smokers. I had all the carpet ripped out (there were gorgeous oak floors underneath, why they covered them with carpet I'll never know) and also had the walls and ceilings painted with high quality paint. I also had all the draperies washed. We washed down all the doors and windows and sashes and woodwork, etc. (You should have seen our rags...YUCK!) This all managed to eliminate the cigarette smell entirely. Prior to this, I lived in a duplex for five years that had very nice Berber carpet. I know the landlord had the carpets and draperies professionally cleaned before I moved in, but I could STILL smell cigarettes every once in a while in a particular area of the living room. I assume it was "stuck" in the carpet. I wasn't sorry to move out of there.

  • aightball
    16 years ago

    We had the same problem when we moved into this apartment last summer. Here's what we did and what worked:

    1) started with plates of baking soda. Nothing.

    2) bowls of vinegar: sort of helped.

    3) odor elimnators: stunk up the place, but worked a little.

    4) opening windows: nope, it's ont the screens, too.

    5) Cleaned walls with vinegar water (or straight vinegar) this helped more than the above because it got rid of the deposits on the wall. We couldn've painted, but would have had to do it ourselves and we didn't want to go to all that work since we were all moved in.

    6) had landlord replace carpet: bingo! We still get a little smell, but it's gone from our cloths and other things we own. We can live in here now and be comfortable.

    So, I'd check with the landlord about getting your carpet replaced.

  • joanm_co
    15 years ago

    I just moved into an apartment where the prior tenants smoked. I got the apartment over the internet and didn't get to see or smell the apartment beforehand. It was awful. I told them they needed to do something. They ran an ozone machine for two nights, approximately 28 hours. The smell was gone until this morning. It's in the walls, not in the carpet. Any ideas on how to get the smell 'off' the walls. I have candles but they don't seem to be working.

  • klpearce83_hotmail_com
    15 years ago

    Our problem is that our upstairs neighbor, downstairs neighbor, or both smoke. The only place it bothers us is the bathroom. I can tell exactly when they get home because all of a sudden the bathroom will reek of cigarette smoke. I've tried using Oust, but it just makes the room reek of smoke and lemons. Scented candles help, but we can still smell the cigarette odor. The floor is tile and we have a couple of small bathroom rugs, so it's not in carpet or anything. It's just coming from the vent. What can we do?

  • mr_weempers
    15 years ago

    febreeze on everything, all the time, after a couple of weeks it will leave, guaranteed.

  • ah10601_gmail_com
    12 years ago

    Don't mask the odor; you won't know if you're still being exposed to secondhand smoke.

    If smoke is still being created, some ionic air purifiers do work really well; research them at consumer reports or somewhere similar.

    If the smoker is long gone, seal the walls with a very good primer designed for fire restoration, etc., then repaint. Replace the carpets, and wash everything (windows, etc.).

    Be wary of the scented aromatic things - they're basically little tubs of very hot, melted wax that can be reached by children or people reaching for light switches in the dark. I love their smell, but they can cause severe burns.