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Selling A Smoker’s House? Here Are Expert Ways to Remove Cigarette Smell for Better Resale

Aside from a home’s features and visual aspects, the odor is another critical consideration for many potential buyers. If you are a homeowner who frequently smokes cigarettes indoors or lives with a smoker, it is important to understand that tobacco odor lingers.

Before deciding to put your property on the market, it may take lots of work to remove the smoke smell from your home. Read on to learn more about its impact on your home’s value, and a few guides to minimize or eliminate unpleasant smoke odors from your home.

According to a report by Realtor Magazine, studies indicate that smoking inside a house can reduce resale value by up to 29 percent. The so-called “thirdhand smoke,” or the chemicals and compounds released into the air by cigarettes, coat walls, ceilings, and other home surfaces. Researchers that measured thirdhand smoke pollutant levels in smoker homes after they moved out found that pollutants remained two months later, even after the homes had been deep cleaned and ventilated.

Just the experience of walking into a house that reeks of cigarette smoke can be a deal-breaker to many buyers, and they may perceive the property as worth less. Likewise, should they consider the home, they’ll soon realize the scope of the project that awaits them in removing the smell. Even in a competitive market, sellers of a smoker’s house can have a hard time getting buyers to make an offer.

Now that you understand the impact smoke smell can have on your property sale, you are probably wondering what is the best way to remove smoke odor from your home. Unfortunately, a quick swipe with wet wipes, sprays of air freshener, or even lighting incense or scented candles, won’t be enough. Adding another smell to the mix can make things worse and turn off potential buyers.

First, here are the best natural products for your smoke-removing arsenal

Vinegar is one of the most effective household treatments for removing the smell of smoke, mainly because of its deodorizing properties. Vinegar cuts through odors naturally and can also be mixed with essential oils to cut the tangy smell. One popular cleaning mix includes one part water and one part white vinegar, which can be used for almost all surfaces and items. Meanwhile, baking soda is an inexpensive and handy household cleaner great for making simple cleaning pastes and also for soaking up odors.

To get you started, here is a list of three expert-recommended tips for removing the smell of smoke from your house.

1. Tackle hard surfaces

Before starting the cleaning process open all windows and doors and turn on fans to improve ventilation. Once you have good air circulation, you can begin to wipe down every hard surface in the home. The recommended solution of half white vinegar and half water can be used to clean many surfaces, including:

  • Walls

  • Ceilings

  • Floors

  • Kitchen counters

  • Doors, knobs, and handles

  • Windows and frames

  • Light fixtures, including the bulbs

  • Appliances

  • Furniture

Aside from vinegar, you may also place bowls of coffee grounds in affected rooms to help neutralize the cigarette smell. For wood or tile, usual cleaning with the recommended cleaner should suffice.


Will repainting the walls help reduce the smoke smell?

Because paint is porous, it may be difficult to remove the smoke smell completely from a wall. A fresh coat of paint may seem like an easy solution, but the pre-existing smoke smell will still permeate through.

After ensuring the walls are thoroughly cleaned and dry, you first need to seal the smell with an odor-neutralizing primer as your base coat to prevent it from eventually seeping back through the paint. Then apply two coats of a new color, preferably a neutral, for a better chance of resale. Repeat for trim work and doors if needed as well.


2. Wash and deodorize soft items

Tobacco smoke permeates fabrics and lingers, so take a thorough inventory of all soft goods in the home. Here are a few tricks to remove the cigarette smell on some of the most common soft items and fabrics.

  • Carpets, rugs, upholstery, and other items that are not machine washable – Any deodorizing powder, such as baking soda, is your best friend when cleaning these items. Grab a big bag of baking soda and sprinkle it on, and let the soda sit and absorb odors overnight or even after a few days before vacuuming.

Wall-to-wall carpet, on the other hand, can be much more difficult to deal with than area rugs and upholstery. You may need to get a professional cleaner’s opinion or replace the carpet altogether. Just wait to install a new carpet until you have completed the cleanup so it stays fresh.

  • Window treatments such as curtains, draperies, and upholstery covers – Take down curtains and draperies and remove upholstery covers. If the fabric can be washed in the washing machine, give it a spin by using a half cup of vinegar instead of detergent, then wash again with detergent and let the items air-dry. If the fabric has to be steam cleaned, you may rent a steamer or hire a professional to take care of it.

  • Mattress, bedding, and cushions – The cigarette smell within a mattress is usually difficult to mask and rarely disappears on its own. Placing your mattress outside in the sun will help with ventilating and killing odor-causing bacteria in mattress fibers. To neutralize the scent, spray it with a vinegar-water solution twice a day for at least a week. You can also try sprinkling some baking soda over the mattress. After around three days, vacuum the excess powder off and repeat the cycle if the smoke smell persists. Meanwhile, toss any washer-safe cushion covers, pillow covers, sofa covers, and linens into the machine, similar to the laundry process of the curtains, then let them air dry outside.

3. Clean the air

While all the aforementioned cleaning measures will help reduce the smell of cigarette smoke in a home, they will not eliminate it. Cleaning the air is usually the last step to getting smoke out of a house. Invest in new filters for your HVAC system, specifically those special odor-removing filters that contain neutralizing charcoal, making sure to change them regularly. Do not forget to check all air ducts and remove any blockages or dust that might have smoke residue. You may also purchase an industrial-grade air purifier with HEPA filters, which will improve the overall air quality in your home. Moreover, go natural and fill your home with indoor plants to help clean the air.


Get professional help

A professional cleaning service may yield better results if you are not satisfied with your DIY efforts or your attempts at cleaning and washing are still unsuccessful. You can take the soft items to a local dry cleaner, especially for larger stuff. You may also hire a home restoration company to thoroughly clean surfaces and fabrics and eliminate smoke smell more efficiently and effectively. They have the capacity and knowledge to use some big guns or specialist equipment, such as steam deodorizers or ozone generators.


Bottom line

Sellers, do not go at it alone. As you start the process of preparing your home for sale, hire an experienced real estate agent. You can ask them to do a “nose check” to help you detect any lingering smells. Aside from guiding you through the ins and outs of selling a home with a smoke smell, they will advise you on how to disclose or confront a smoke odor during closing negotiation and refer you to a reliable home restoration company if needed.

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