Get Rid of Smoke Odor with Essential Home Remedies Charcoal vs Cinnamon Sticks vs Coffee ... and 7 more

Edited by Vanessa Alexandra Avisado, Rebecca M., Lynn, Eng and 24 others

Yassora 1503152149-meme.jpg

Do you know that cigarette smoke odor is not as easily removed, even when you use sprays to mask it? Are you aware that third-hand smoke can be trapped on home surfaces such as ceilings, walls, carpets and even dust? Thus, if you are moving into a house that has been inhabited by a certified smoker, you will need to do a deep cleaning and paint the walls to get rid of the lingering smoke odor.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Ironically, even smokers would agree that this lingering smell is better eliminated, especially when there are kids or non-smokers co-inhabiting the house with them. The smoke residue and particles can contain harmful carcinogens or cancer-causing agents, heavy metals, and even radioactive substances. Some of the known toxins found in cigarette smoke are formaldehyde, toluene, acetone, and ammonia.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

You need not wait for the kids and other household members to be exposed to third-hand smoke. You need not find out first if it will affect your health and that of your family. You need not even spend big bucks on costly commercial products that can neutralize and deodorize cigarette smoke odor. You can simply use inexpensive and safe home remedies to get rid of smoke odor in your home

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Sources of Smoke Odor

There are various sources of smoke odor.</b> Each has a distinct smell that can be considered an irritant to the olfactory nerves in the nose of a person. These can be found inside your home or maybe at your workplace. Here are some common sources of smoke odor:

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help
  • Cigarette or Tobacco
  • Burnt Food in the Oven
  • BBQ Smoke
  • Overheated Appliances
  • Fireplace

Thankfully, there are appropriate solutions that you can use to deal with smoke odor. Specifically, there are ingredients found around your home or garden that you can use to get rid of smoke odor. The irritating scent will be gone in no time if you know how to use these homemade solutions.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Method 1: Charcoal


It might seem counter-intuitive but charcoal has an amazing ability to purify both water and air. Charcoal is also cheap: the charcoal briquettes you use in your barbecue will do just fine. As a bonus, charcoal absorbs moisture, so it can do double-duty eliminating the smoky odor and tackling smells caused by excessive moisture. Put the charcoal in a bowl and place it somewhere in your house, office, or wherever the smoke odor is. The charcoal will absorb the smell. It works just like a Brita water filter which also uses charcoal to filter bad taste and smells out of the water. You may need to use several bowls of charcoal in each room, so be creative. Perhaps include it as part of a candle base. Tip: if you are a frequent smoker, place the charcoal close to the ashtray.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Method 2: Cinnamon Sticks


Do you like the aromatic smell of cinnamon? Cinnamon is especially good for neutralizing the odors from burnt food and other unpleasant kitchen smells, and realtors often use it to bring the welcoming smell of home into a house when they are showing it. There are two amazing ways you can use cinnamon to remove the smoky odor from your house.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

In the Oven

On a baking pan, place two cinnamon sticks wrapped in aluminum foil and bake them at 325 degrees Fahrenheit (185 degrees Celsius) for about 10-15 minutes. Then, before turning it off, open the door of the oven and allow the wonderful aromatic smell to waft and sweeten your house.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

On Stovetop

Place two sticks of cinnamon in a pot of water and bring it to a boil.Continue boiling the cinnamon for about 20-30 minutes. Its pleasant scent can drift around the house to eradicate the smoky odor.

Method 3: Coffee


Since the average American drinks about three cups of coffee a day, it's one ingredient you're sure to have on hand. It not only tastes good, but it can also be utilized to remove smoke odor from inside your home. After making your coffee in the morning, allow your used coffee grounds to dry. Once dry, place the coffee grounds in a bowl or any medium container. Put it in the kitchen, living room, bedroom or any other parts of your home that stinks because of smoke and leave it there for at least 20-24 hours.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Method 4: Old Newspaper


You may know that newspaper sheets work better than cloth for cleaning windows and mirrors without streaks, but were you aware that the newsprint itself has the ability to absorb smoky odors? Rather than stack them out of sight, why not use them? Old newspaper works best for getting rid of odors in small, enclosed spaces. Crumple some newspapers sheets and place them inside cabinets or use them in your car. Let the newspaper do its thing for 48 hours.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Method 5: Vanilla Extract


Vanilla extract has a wonderful smell, and interestingly, it is also functional as it can eliminate smoke odor by absorbing it. Get a Ziplock, or other sealable plastic bag and poke a couple of holes on either side. The plastic bag will hold the vanilla-soaked cotton balls and the holes will allow the scent through.Soak two cotton balls in two capfuls of vanilla extract. An easy way to do this is to pour the vanilla into a cup and drop the cotton balls inside. Drop the vanilla-soaked cotton balls into the plastic bag and drop it in the area smelling of smoke.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Bonus tip. If you just want to keep a room smelling pleasant, place a drop of the vanilla extract on a light bulb. When you turn the lights on, the heat will cause the vanilla to evaporate and you have an instant air freshener

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Method 6: Borax and Dishwashing Detergent


Sometimes, the smoke odor does not only linger inside your house, but it can also stick on walls. The smell may be gone instantly or it can stay on the walls for a long, long time. To get rid of that stubborn, smoky smell, mix 1/2 cup (4 oz) of borax and 1/2 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent in 2 gallons (7.5 liters) of hot/warm water. Then, using the solution, wash down the wall with a sponge or a washcloth. Rinse with water to remove it from the walls.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Method 7: Vinegar

Vinegar 89871.jpg

White or apple cider vinegar is a multi-purpose home remedy. You can use it to remove stains from your China, disinfect your fridge, or even to get stains out of your clothing. So, it should come as no surprise that it's also good for removing smoky odors from your home. All you have to do is place some apple cider vinegar or just conventional white vinegar in a bowl or a cup. Put it in the corners around your home or any space where the pesky smoke odor lingers.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Method 8: Steam Clean

Steam Clean 89313.jpg

Rent a steam cleaner for carpets, curtains, and couches. It doesn't cost very much but can be very effective. Be sure not to skimp on the carpet cleaner they sell along with the rental. Steam clean not only the carpets but also your curtains, couches and any other clothed based surfaces you might have. Tip: If the steam cleaner you are renting smells like mildew DO NOT USE IT. You will just add another bad smell into the mix and make your problem worse. Return it and get your money back and rent from another company. IMPORTANT: Be sure to suck all the water back out of the carpets. If you don't you will not actually be lifting the smell out of the carpet or couch fibers.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Method 9: Baking Soda

Baking Soda 16067.jpg

You probably already know that you can use baking soda to absorb odors in your refrigerator, but did you know that you can also use it to remove smoky odors (any odor, really) from fabric, like your furniture upholstery, carpets, drapes, and mattresses?

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help
  1. 1
    Gather a two-cup liquid measuring cup, a colander, and a box of baking soda
    You can then carry these items into the room that you want to deodorize without worrying about getting the baking soda where you don't want it.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No| I need help
  2. 2
    Fill the measuring cup with baking soda and empty it into the colander
    Use the colander to sprinkle the baking soda generously over your upholstery, carpets, mattresses, and whatever other fabrics you want to deodorize. #When you are through, it should look like a fresh layer of snow has fallen over everything.Allow the baking soda to do its thing for half an hour to an hour.
    Was this step helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Method 10: Clean or Paint the Walls

Clean or Paint the Walls 62911.jpg

Smoke residue caused by tiny particles of burnt material can stick to almost any surface. To eliminate odors you will need to clean them well with the vinegar solution described above, and if that doesn't work, you will need to paint the surfaces. I know there are so many jokes about not "painting over the problem" but in this case, it works. Painting will ensure there are no tiny particles of smoke residue on your walls.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Tips, Tricks, and Warnings:

  • Keep children safe. There are ingredients or materials that are harmful to the kids. Make sure to keep these out of reach of the little ones.
  • Air it out. Opening the Windows, doors, and turning on a fan is a great method for removing smoke odor.
  • No smoking rules. To prevent odor caused by smoking cigarettes or other tobacco products, implement strict rules, particularly inside the house, on what areas are off limits to smoking. In this way, you can minimize or eliminate the prime factor of smoke odor.
  • Shut the doors. When using barbecue grill for your barbecue party or for ordinary Sunday gatherings, make sure to close the Windows and doors of your house when the barbecuing starts to halt the smoke.
  • Bring in the sunshine. Smoke odor can also penetrate on carpets, clothes, or any fabric mattresses. Good exposures from sunlight or sunshine helps get rid of the smell.
  • Be practical. You do not have to hire professionals or buy expensive appliances just to remove the odor of the smoke. Remember the best solution can be found in your regular household materials and ingredients.
  • Clean up regularly. Regular cleaning can also be a big help. If you want a smoke odor-free environment, make a habit of cleaning your house, and don't forget areas that are hard to reach.
Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Smoke can be very irritating, and even very harmful, especially cigarette smoke. If people only pay attention, eliminating is not as hard. Using home remedies are not only safe, but they are also inexpensive. So, are you tired of the smoke odor around your house? Go and sweeten up your home.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Questions and Answers

Cottage closed up reeks of old stale smoke?

Not my place but friends coming to stay - afraid to tell owner how bad the smell is but have access to place

You can use the remedies mentioned earlier in this guide to get out that old, stale smoke smell. Just make sure that you also keep the cottage Windows open for a few nights or more. Also, be sure to take out all of the blankets and let them air out. Wash any linens with a strong smelling detergent, and make sure to vacuum any rugs or carpets. If they have a shampooer, that's even better.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

How to get rid of smoke smell in house?

I am a smoker wanting to sell my house. Everyone tells me my house stinks of cigarette smoke and I will never be able to sell my home. Can you help?

If you're continuing to live in the home, then yes, this can be a problem. However, you can open all of the Windows, and make sure to change linens and bed covers, afterward closing those doors so that no smoke smell can go into the cleaned rooms. In this way, you can limit the exposure of items in your home to cigarette smoke. Then, you can also restrict your smoking to outside, or near a window, which will further give the impression to potential owners that you are only visiting, and just temporarily smoking, should they see you smoking or smell any smoke in the house.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Also, in this case, we would not recommend natural home remedies, but rather something chemical, such as Febreze.

My previous tenant was a smoker, and her porch still has a lingering smell. I have used vinegar, and other washes; and also repainted. I am going to try using some coffee grounds or vanilla. Do you have any other tricks up your sleeve for this problem? Thanks?

Do you have any other suggestions on how to remove the lingering odor.?

You might need to clean all surfaces of the porch again. Smoke pollution even clings to screens so clean that as well. Scrub the floors well and air out the porch as much as possible. Don't bother with the walls since you've already repainted them. Sprinkle some baking soda all over the floors and allow it to sit for several hours, then vacuum it up. If the smell remains, place bowls of activated charcoal on the porch to absorb it. If the porch has carpeting, clean it with an extraction carpet cleaner.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

My mother-in-law smokes in her bedroom the smell permeates the house and creates a stale mix of fresh smoke and old smoke?

She leaves at 2 pm, and I have 8 hours to lessen the smell. It is permeating into all areas of the house via the return ducts. It is horrible, any quick tips.

Open all of the Windows and turn on fans. If the weather isn't ideal for this and you have central air, turn on the fan to recirculate and filter the air. Consider buying a few small air purifiers that reduce smoke pollution. Place one in your mother-in-law's bedroom and elsewhere in your house. To freshen the house, sprinkle the carpets with baking soda, let it sit, then vacuum. Try roasting some cinnamon sticks or placing a few cloths soaked in vanilla extract throughout the house for a pleasant aroma. You can also try simmering cinnamon sticks, lemon or orange peels, cloves and a few drops of vanilla extract in the water on the stove. Mix and match these, or try fresh herbs such as basil, mint, and rosemary.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help



Wash the clothes in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Add 1 cup of white or cider vinegar to the wash load in addition to detergent. Use the strongest, highest quality detergent you can find. Smell the clothes when you remove them from the washing machine. You may need to rewash them if any smoke smell remains. If you dry them in the dryer and they still smell like smoke, the heat can set the odor and it will be extremely difficult to remove later.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

I am not allowed to have my granddaughter (now 2 years old) in my home or car because of third-hand smoke smell. I cleaned like crazy before my son came to visit with her. I usually clean a lot of things with vinegar but will utilize it on more surfaces. Also, read that coffee grounds help. Can they be used coffee grounds or fresh? Both parents smoke outside their home and wash hands and brush teeth when they come back in. But third-hand smoke is still an issue as they hang their jackets inside. Can I use Febreze along with my cleaning routine before she visits? I can only go visit her (almost an hour away) and have health issues myself that keeps me home often?

Can I get rid of third-hand smoke smell with vinegar, coffee grounds, and Febreze?

Cleaning with vinegar (or baking soda) will certainly help with the smoke smell. Try placing bowls of fresh, dry coffee grinds around the areas where you smoke, and spray Febreze to help absorb the odor. Open Windows when you smoke, if possible, to air out the house.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Removing cigarette smoke in a mattress I purchased from a friend?

Removing cigarette smoke in a mattress I purchased from a friend?

Sprinkle one side of the mattress with baking soda and let it sit for an hour, then vacuum it up. Flip in over and do the same thing on the other side. Prop the mattress up against a wall and open all of the Windows to let it air out. It's best to do this for at least a whole day. Spray the mattress with Febreze or an all-natural fabric refreshing spray. It's difficult to remove all traces of smoke odor from a mattress because there is no way to thoroughly clean it, but these methods will help reduce it significantly.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

What is the best way to get the smoke out of my kitchen lounge?

I burned a pot of pea, well I had a shower there when got out in the hallway and I need to get it out in cheap possible way without having to repaint the room

If you're concerned about repainting, try cleaning the walls first with the borax and dishwashing detergent solution listed above, or mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda into 1 gallon of hot water, and add a few drops of dish detergent. This will help deodorize your kitchen. Clean all hard surfaces in the kitchen with this solution, then open Windows and doors or turn on a fan to air it out.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

I am wondering how to get the smoky smell out of a piece of carry-on luggage?

It was previously owned by a heavy smoker.

Try sprinkling the inside of the luggage with a generous amount of baking soda, fresh coffee grinds, loose tea leaves or cat litter. Close the luggage and shake it up. Allow it to sit for at least one whole day, but more is better. Open the luggage and shake out the material. Wipe off the luggage with a damp cloth and leave it open to air dry, preferably outdoors but not in direct sunlight.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Hi, I recently dropped a lamp onto my laminated floor?

And the flame continued to burn for about 15 min, the smoke smell still lingers. I have kept my Windows open but it is still there. what can I do? Please help.

Clean all surfaces where you smell the smoke. Wash all hard surfaces with one of the cleaning solutions listed in the article, or mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda into 1 quart of water to use as an all-purpose cleaner and deodorizer. Mop the floor with 1 gallon of water mixed with 1/3 cup rubbing alcohol, 1/2 cup white vinegar, a few drops of dishwashing detergent and 10 to 20 drops of your favorite essential oils (optional). If there is carpeting in your home, sprinkle it with baking soda and let it sit for about an hour. Vacuum it thoroughly. Keep the Windows open as long as possible to air out any remaining smell. Try simmering some cinnamon sticks, orange peels, lemon peels or other aromatic spices to refresh your home.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

It is an old fireplace and smells like real old burnt wood?

It just stinks the living room of a really awful burnt wood smell.

When it's cool, clean out the fireplace and dispose of any ash, burned wood and other debris. Use a stiff-bristled brush to sweep up the ash, then spray the exterior of the fireplace with water followed by a mixture of 2 ounces salt and 2 ounces dishwashing detergent. Rub this into the stone or brick with a cloth or gloved hands. Let it sit for 20 minutes, then scrub with a cleaning brush. Rinse with a bucket full of clean water and a cloth. Let it air dry. Clean all other surfaces in the living room with one of the cleaning solutions listed in the article. Sprinkle the carpet with baking soda, let it sit for an hour, then vacuum. Open Windows to air out the room until the smell dissipates.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

How can I best use Cinnamon sticks to reduce/remove smoke/soot odor?

We had a fire in our HVAC ducts, spreading soot odor everywhere throughout the vents. We've cleaned, painted, used ozonators, tubs of charcoal and other specific post-fire deodorizer products, but there's still some residual soot odor. Someone just gave us several bags of cinnamon sticks, so I'm trying to find out the best way to see if they can both offer support for reducing the smell, but also hopeful that in FL that they don't attract any living creatures...

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Try roasting the cinnamon sticks as directed in the article above, or place them in a pan of water and simmer for several hours, replacing the water as needed when it gets low. You can also add some citrus peel or cloves to add an additional scent. Run the HVAC at the same time to circulate the aroma throughout your home. Some people suggest using cinnamon as a deterrent against ants coming into their home, but the effect is questionable and there are no guarantees that cinnamon will make a difference in attracting or repelling insects or other living creatures either way.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

A tenant moved out of a small 1-room efficiency apt and left it smelling very badly of cigarette smoke. I've washed the walls and the floor with Lysol and a sponge mop and every other surface with bleach, soap, and water. It still smells just as bad. No carpeting and no fabric other than the mattress that was covered. What else can I do to remove this sickening odor?

A tenant moved out of a small 1-room efficiency apt and left it smelling very badly of cigarette smoke. I've washed the walls and the floor with Lysol and a sponge mop and every other surface with bleach, soap, and water. It still smells just as bad. No carpeting and no fabric other than the mattress that was covered. What else can I do to remove this sickening odor?

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

If you've already cleaned and aired out the apartment, it might be necessary to repaint the walls. There are several odor blocking primers available on the market that traps odors from cigarette smoke.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Does wooden furniture retain toxic if exposed to a fire?

We had a fire at home and the insurance company is telling us the furniture is still safe even though it is covered in soot and reeks of smoke. We have 3 toddlers in our home and I do not want them exposed to anything that might be toxic.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

If the soot isn't oily, vacuum any excess with a HEPA filter vacuum using a brush attachment. Wipe down the wood with a dry chemical sponge (melamine), then spray the wood with a solution of equal parts water, white vinegar and 1 tablespoon dishwashing detergent. Scrub with a nylon scrubber and rinse with clean water. If any soot remains after the wood dries, lightly sand it with fine sandpaper then wipe away the dust with a damp cloth. Sanding will affect the finish of the wood, so only do it if absolutely necessary.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

After 50 years using a wood burning stove in the fireplace we are switching to a gas log insert. We are trying to get rid of the heavy stink left in the house as a result of the wood burning stove?

How do we get rid of the smell?

You'll need to scrub all walls and hard surfaces in the home with a strong cleaner, such as the borax and dishwashing detergent solution listed in the article above. Shampoo the carpets and furniture, wash all linens and refresh your home's scent by roasting or boiling cinnamon sticks. You can place bowls of vinegar, baking soda or powdered activated charcoal throughout your home to absorb the odor. If this isn't effective enough, consider purchasing an air purifier. As a last resort, you can rent an ozone generator to eliminate the smell, but you have to leave your home while it's working.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

See more questions like this: How to eliminate natural gas odor from your house

My wife overheated the cats blanket in the micro...turned on the oven fan and a fog of smoke filled the living room, etc?

Tried to vent with an open window, but it still remains...How to get rid of the smell?. I have tried: Ventilating. I think it was caused by: Burnt terry cloth towel

Try roasting or boiling cinnamon sticks as explained in the article above. Do not try boiling them in the microwave, however; it's a good way to damage your microwave oven!

Where do you buy activated charcoal?

We are trying to remove cigarette smoke odor from a condo. You can buy charcoal anywhere that barbecues are sold, and some grocery stores have it, as well. The charcoal you buy for grilling is fine.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

How long for third-hand smoke residue to cease being a health concern in a small vehicle? In other words, when has 99 percent out-gassed? And how long does the particle pollution persist?

Thank you. As above. As above. Please read the question above which provides details. The car has not been smoked in for over 2and 1/2 years. I suspect a previous owner or passenger used to smoke something in the car, based on an odd odor which will not dissipate, and an aggravating symptomology in the nasal lining.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Try crumpling up some old newspapers as indicated in the article above, or placing dry coffee grounds inside a fabric softener sheet and putting it inside the car. This should eliminate the smoke odor from your car within 24 to 48 hours. Another thing you can try is sprinkling baking soda into the car upholstery.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

Smoking odor condo next door smokes shire entrance way?

Smoke odor, how to get it out of front hall walls and rug? No windows. Shires front entrance, no windows, the door never opens daily. How to get smoking odor gone. I have tried: Air freshener, baking soda, newspapers, please help. I think it was caused by: People next door smoke all the time, comings from their condo to entrance to our door then inside.

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

Do anti-tobacco candles work too? and will try charcoal bricks?

I have read all the suggestions and am off to the shops - thanks! I am trying to give up smoking and look forward to a fresh smelling home but for now, I want to try everything to at least minimize the disgusting smell

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

Hi - I am remediating smoke damage from burnt food - how shall I handle the CEILINGS?

Do you recommend that we vacuum or wash the ceilings? With what? And if so, prior to cleaning walls and floors? . . And thank you for the great article and cleaning tips. I didn't really see the ceilings covered - and actually - I live in a wood cabin and my walls and ceilings are rough finished wood (i.e.. not sanded smooth).

Was this helpful? Yes | No| I need help

VisiHow QnA. This section is not written yet. Want to join in? Click EDIT to write this answer.

See more questions like this: Job at Risk: how do I eliminate 3rd hand smoke as nonsmoker?

If you have problems with any of the steps in this article, please ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.


VisiHow welcomes all comments. If you do not want to be anonymous, register or log in. It is free.

Article Info

Categories : Home

Recent edits by: Jay, Maria Quinney, Sammiejo

Share this Article:

Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 73,030 times.


Thank Our Volunteer Authors.

Would you like to give back to the community by fixing a spelling mistake? Yes | No