How to Get Rid of that Smoke Smell

After dealing with not one but two places that were lived in by smokers on this investment property, I can say I have read, researched, and tested a lot of different methods to get rid of that lingering smoke smell in a home.  Here is what I have learned from my four weekend battle with smoke.  The absolute worst room in both units was the master bedroom and adjoining bath in the house.


This is what I learned:

First EVERY single square inch has to be cleaned or removed.  No exceptions. Walls, ceilings, floors, closets, windows,doors, tile, wood… it all needs a good cleaning and if it can’t be cleaned, rip it out.  I cleaned every surface that could handle the chemicals with TSP.  I recommend starting at the ceiling and work your way down. The trick to getting the ceiling scrubbed without damaging the sheet rock was fist to use a brush on a handle that is used to clean RV’s and boats dipped in a TSP solution then to use a saturated microfiber cloth on a Swiffer sweeper.  I changed the microfiber cloth frequently.  It rained nicotine on me.  Brown liquid ran down the walls.  After ceiling and walls were all washed I used clean damp cloths to wipe it all down.  It took two times to wipe every surface down with clean water to get it to the point that the water did not turn brown after wiping it down.

After it was completely dry the next step was to run an ozone generator.  I rented one on Labor Day weekend so that I could keep it from Saturday morning at 7:00 am until Tuesday morning at 7:00 am for $60.00  I ran it every second we were not in the house and it helped.

Finally, after the ozone generator was returned I painted the wall and ceiling with B-I-N primer.  This primer is super thin so be prepared to treat it almost like water.  It is some amazing stuff but it is not cheap.  It took two gallons to get the walls and ceilings sealed at over $40.00 a gallon.

The floor got a serious mopping at the end of every day I was there.  The hardwood had long since lost any varnish and we planned on sealing and covering the flooring with vinyl plank flooring.  Luckily I did not do any damage to the floor and we were able to have them sanded, stained and sealed.  More on that in a future post.  Once the painter finished the house lost that stale smoke smell. (Yep we paid a painter to get the entire interior and exterior painted.  I am not sorry we spent that money.) 

I know you see that half-finished bathroom through the door. We are making progress there but the bedroom is done except for two outlet covers and the blinds on the window.  I wish I had smellavision.  It smells great.

Look at that beautiful nicotine free wall.

The cat smell was not as bad as the smoke.  The carpet and pad contained a lot of the smell and a good scrubbing with      laundry detergent in water using a scrub brush helped.  Three or four mopping jobs knocked most of it out.  Hydrogen peroxide on the worst spots made it fade almost completely.  Open windows on hot days and baking soda finished off the smell. 

If you are thinking about investment property there is a reason people shy away from the problems we had.  I don’t want to clean another place again, but if the price was right who knows?  

I hope this helped you.  If not, I hope the idea of me driving home wrapped in trash bags so I wouldn’t get it in my car at least amuses you.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *