Nothing disappears without a trace. Cigarette smoke may seem to as you watch it wisp away, but the tiny particulates and toxins that make the smoke don't vanish into thin air. You don't see them, since they are 1/1000 of the width of a human hair, but they're there, clinging to every available surface. Removing the smoke odor requires removing these tiny particulates. The process isn't difficult, but it is time-consuming. You must wash and treat any fabrics in the room and wipe down every surface, including the insides of drawers, cupboards and closets.
Get Some Air
Airing out the home won't get rid of the smoke smell by itself, but it's an important step. Open as many windows and doors as you can. Place a fan in one window blowing in and another fan elsewhere blowing out to create airflow through the space. Turn on any ceiling fans to get as much air moving as possible. If you can access one, run an air purifier as well.
Go Straight to the Top
Wash your walls with a solution of one part vinegar and two parts water. Start with the ceiling and then work your way down the walls. People often wash their walls but forget the ceiling. The ceiling, however, usually holds more of the odor than the walls since smoke rises. If you have a popcorn or textured ceiling that you can't easily wash, put the vinegar and water into a spray bottle, generously spraying the ceiling and letting it air dry.
While you're in the home working, set shallow bowls filled with vinegar, coffee grounds or cat litter throughout the house. These substances absorb smells and will help clear the air while you work. If possible, consider leaving these bowls for a few days to absorb as much odor as possible. You can also tuck them inside particularly pungent cabinets and closets.
To get rid of smoke, you need to wash every surface in your home. Mop hardwood, vinyl and other floors with the same water and vinegar solution you used on the walls. Wipe both the inside and outside surfaces of any cupboards, cabinets, drawers and closets in the home. If there is furniture in the home, such as a dresser or china closet, wash it inside and out as well. Leave the drawers and cupboards open to air-dry after washing. When cleaning, don't overlook light bulbs. These, too, can hold smoke odors and they get worse as the bulb heats up. Wash down or change out all of the light bulbs in the home.
Treat Your Treatments
Smokers frequently light up near open windows in an attempt to blow their smoke outside. As a result, your window treatments can take a stinky beating. Remove the curtains from the window and put them in the washing machine if the material allows you to do so. If it doesn't, seek help from your dry cleaner or replace the curtains altogether. If there are blinds in the window, take them down and wash them in the bathtub with an all-purpose household cleaner.
Gather any bedclothes, bath mats and other washable fabrics and toss them in the washing machine with one cup of white vinegar. This will get rid of the smell. Then clean upholstered furniture, mattresses and carpets with a steam cleaner. In some instances, the cigarette smoke smell becomes firmly embedded in both the carpet itself and the floor underneath. If this is the case, you may need to remove the carpet, wash the floor underneath and have new carpet installed. Remember that the filters in heating and air conditioning units contain fabric as well. Change them to prevent refilling the home with a smoky smell when turning the furnace or air conditioner on.
Freshen up the Paint
In instances of heavy smoking, washing the walls may not fully deodorize them. Repainting the walls might be the only option. If it is, use a thick odor-blocking primer and a semi-gloss top coat. For extra protection from returning smells, coat the entire paint job with a matte finish polyurethane. This will trap any lingering smoke odors on the wall and make it harder for any future odor problems to penetrate the surface.
Home is where the heart is, and Michelle frequently pens articles about ways to keep yours looking great and feeling cozy. Whether you want help organizing your closet, picking a paint color or finishing drywall, Michelle has you covered. If she's not puttering in the house, you'll find her in the garden playing in the dirt. Her garden articles provide tips and insight that anyone can use to turn a brown thumb green. You'll find her work on Modern Mom, The Nest and eHow as well as sprinkled throughout your other online home decor and improvement favorites.