How to Eliminate the Smoke Odor From Vents

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.
Image Credit: Nataliia Yankovets/iStock/GettyImages

Vents that spew smoke odors can cause a home to fill with unwanted aromas. Whether it's from nicotine or the remnants of a kitchen, candle or brush fire, smoke odors can be annoying. Learning how to eliminate the smoke odor from vents can help make your home a smell-free zone.


Prepare to Clean the Vents

Video of the Day

To thoroughly clean vents, remove them from the ceiling, walls or flooring. Work in a well-ventilated area and use gloves and safety goggles when working with cleaners.

Video of the Day

Use soft cloths and sponges rather than abrasive tools, such as steel wool that can scratch the vent. A narrow brush can remove hidden odors within the slats.


If removing more than one vent, label them so that they fit well when you reinstall them. If the vents are painted, take care with cleaning. Don't soak them, use strong or abrasive cleaners or use a scrub brush. Mild dish soap, a soft cloth and elbow grease should be enough to clean the vents.

Eliminate Fire Smoke Odor

If you live in an area close to a recent wildfire, then the odor from the fire may have found its way into your home. Cleaning the vents and replacing the filters will reduce the smell. Vents should also be cleaned if there has been a recent kitchen fire and the house filled with significant smoke. The fumes and odors will cling to the inside of the vent and may be visibly present on the outside.


Remove the screws that secure the vent and place them in a bowl so they can be easily found and reinstalled. Dip the vent in vinegar and give it a good scrub. Wipe down the inside of the cavity that the vent covers. Rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly before fastening the vent back in place.

Eliminate Smoke Odors From Cooking

Unwanted aromas around the home, such as those from a burning pan, can linger. Remove the vents and clean the surfaces with vinegar and baking soda. Place the vents in a bath of 1 part baking soda to 2 parts vinegar. Let it soak for 15 minutes or overnight. Use a narrow brush to clean between the slats of the vent. Rinse and dry well before reinstalling.


If the vents are coated with oil or crud from cooking, they may need a stronger cleaning solution. Mix 1/2 cup of ammonia, 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of vinegar in a gallon of hot water. Spray or scrub this cleaning solution onto the vents. Let it sit for 20 minutes to soak into the layer of crud before scrubbing and rinsing.

Eliminate Cigarette Smoke Odor

Cleaning the lingering nicotine off vents can seem like an overwhelming endeavor. However, it can be done quickly and effectively with the right techniques and odor removers. In apartment buildings, smoke from other residents can waft into other areas and contaminate the vents long after the last butt has been snuffed out.


Plain vinegar can work well, or you can scrub the vents with a solution of 1 tablespoon of ammonia to 1 cup of water. If the cigarette smell continues to cling to the cleaned vent, mix 1 part bleach to 4 parts warm water. Let the vent soak for a few hours or overnight. Rinse and dry the vent well before reinstalling.

A charcoal filter placed inside the vent can remove smoke odors that come through the vent before they enter your home.




Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...