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🚬 How Do I Get The Smoke Smell Out Of My Apartment? [2022]

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Wash any and all window screens where the smoke exited the apartment. Place them in a tub or shower and use dish soap or shampoo to clean the mesh and then rinse with cool water. If you used an exhaust fan, wash out the filter in the same way. Change the air conditioner filter if it was in use at the time of the fire.

How to get rid of the cigarette smell in your apartment

If the smoke issue is minor upon move-in, or if you’re cleaning up an apartment you already live in, there are several ways of removing the smoke smell. However, it isn’t enough to simply mask the smoke odor. You have to deep clean every single surface, absorb and neutralize the smell and purify your home atmosphere to really eliminate cigarette odor.

Here’s how to get rid of the smoke smell in your apartment.

1. Throw away the source of the smell

To get rid of the cigarette odor in your apartment

To get rid of the cigarette odor in your apartment, first, toss out all the smoking materials. Then, clean out everything they’ve touched and anything you don’t want to keep.

  1. Put the contents of ashtrays into a garbage bag. Make sure you wet the remnants down first to eliminate fire risk.
  2. Tie up the garbage bag and remove it from the apartment.
  3. Throw away unsmoked cigarettes, cigars and pipe tobacco. If you just kicked the habit, you don’t need any additional temptation. Plus, keeping extras on hand will just encourage guests to smoke, so you’ll have to clean all over again.
  4. Toss out anything that’s too damaged by secondhand smoke to salvage, or that you don’t want to commit time to clean. Such items include cloth furniture from a smoking area, ashtrays or porous items like magazines, newspapers and cardboard boxes that really absorb and retain the smell.
  5. Set aside garbage cans for cleaning.

Once the materials are trashed, the rental unit is one step closer to being delightfully smoke-free.

2. Increase airflow

Air circulation is so critical to eliminate smoke

Air circulation is so critical to eliminate smoke smells. So, get the air in your rental property moving to eliminate that nasty stale air once and for all!

  1. First, open all the windows to help the airflow all around the rental unit. This encourages cross ventilation. Leave doors open, as well!
  2. Next, place portable box fans in the windows of the smokiest rooms. Make sure the blades are blowing out, pulling the smell outdoors.
  3. Run the portable fans for a full day, if possible. If it’s too cold, try for an hour or two at a time. Repeat as needed for a few days.

This simple step is key to getting the rental property to smell fresh again. You know, like somewhere you’d actually want to lay your head at night.

3. Sprinkle and steam

If an item is not hand or machine washable, try sp

If an item is not hand or machine washable, try sprinkling baking soda, coupled with a deep steam cleaning. It’s a simple, but effective way to bid adieu to that nasty smell. Follow these easy steps:

  1. Sprinkle baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) in a thin layer on rugs, carpets, mattresses and sofas and anything else that can’t easily be laundered. The molecules in this great natural cleaner bind to odors, neutralizing them.
  2. Let it sit for several hours (or even a full day) when there’s no foot traffic. If possible, let it sit overnight!
  3. Vacuum up any residue.
  4. Repeat the process if the odor persists.
  5. Then, steam clean carpets and upholstered furniture if the label says it’s safe to do so. You can rent a cleaner or purchase your own at a big box store.

This should go a long way to eliminate the smoky smell. It’s even a good idea every once in a while for any type of odor!

4. Wash what you can

A cycle through the washing machine is a quick and

A cycle through the washing machine is a quick and easy way to eliminate odors. Be sure to check labels to make sure everything is machine washable. You don’t want to mess up that wool blanket or cashmere throw!

  1. Launder all clothing that’s been exposed to smoke. Use a deodorizing laundry detergent for best results. An extra rinse goes a long way to remove odors permanently. Dry as directed. Whenever possible, take that extra step and hang it out to air dry!
  2. Then, move on to bedding. Wash everything, from covers and sheets to mattress pads, bed skirts and pillows.
  3. In the rest of the unit, don’t forget to launder decorative items like tablecloths, pillow covers and washable couch cushion covers.
  4. Dry items outdoors, if possible. The sun’s UV rays break down odor-causing compounds, so a little sunshine will help.

Of course, some items might be too large to machine wash at home, so they might need to be sent out to a dry cleaner or another expert. Area rugs, in particular, may need the expertise of a rug doctor to get the job done.

5. Scrub all the hard surfaces

After you've cleaned or discarded clothing, textil

After you’ve cleaned or discarded clothing, textiles and other soft items, move on to surfaces like walls, counters, hard floors and wood floors. Don’t forget about ceilings, windows, window sills and light switch covers! The smoke residue will be sticky, so you’ll have to scrub with a clean cloth to get the job done.

You can make your own natural cleaners or purchase cleaners at the local home improvement or hardware store. Leave heavy-duty options like sodium phosphate to your landlord or the pros they hire, since it can damage paint, metal and wood finishes. Here are a few of the most popular natural options you can make at home.


Vinegar is a very effective smoke residue remover. Fill a bucket or spray bottle with a solution made of two-thirds distilled white vinegar and one-third water. This will effectively clean most surfaces, and is especially effective to achieve clean windows.

  1. Spray walls, floors and counters with the water and white vinegar solution.
  2. Wipe clean with a sponge or soft, clean rag, rinsing frequently.
  3. To wash windows, use a 50-50 water and vinegar mix and wipe with a newspaper or lint-free cloth until it shines.


For tougher stains and residue, try an ammonia solution. Just take care to make sure the mixture isn’t too concentrated. Never combine it with bleach or cleaners that contain bleach. Doing so can result in toxic fumes that cause headaches and seizures.

  1. For counters and floors add a tablespoon of ammonia for every cup of water.
  2. Wear protective gloves and open the windows for additional ventilation.
  3. Test in an inconspicuous place before applying to surfaces.
  4. To protect painted walls, reduce the concentration to 1/4 cup of anomia per gallon of warm water.
  5. Let it sit on surfaces or walls for a few minutes, then wipe it off with a clean sponge or rag.
  6. Follow with a final rinse of warm water.

These common household cleaners are rock stars at getting rid of heavy smoker handiwork.

6. Improve ventilation

To get rid of the cigarette smell in your apartmen

To get rid of the cigarette smell in your apartment, you need to clean every space, no matter how small. That especially includes the spaces that circulate air through your home. Pro tip: Turn off the power before you start disassembling.

  1. Put in a maintenance request for a clean furnace filter.
  2. Vacuum out the ducts so polluted dust doesn’t move through the ducts into the rest of the apartment.
  3. Scrub the central air vent covers and registers to remove dirt and grime.
  4. Wipe down the vents in AC units.
  5. Clean all fan blades, fixtures and light bulbs on ceiling fans.
  6. Gently remove vent covers on the microwave and range top in the kitchen.
  7. Vacuum or dust inside.
  8. Wash the fan covers with soap and water.
  9. Put in a maintenance request to clean out exhaust fans in the bathroom, as well. This is a little more complicated, so your landlord may prefer you let the pros handle it.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it really is doable in just a few hours start to finish, and will make such a big difference in the long run.

7. Clean overlooked items

Once you've tackled the big items like furniture,

Once you’ve tackled the big items like furniture, carpets, walls and counters, it’s time to think about smoke particles on small surfaces. Make sure you’ve scrubbed all surfaces, even the overlooked ones.

  1. Look high and low. The tops of kitchen counters and baseboards are dust magnets. Don’t forget door frames!
  2. Wipe down little things like lamp bases, towel racks and window blinds to eliminate nasty surface odor.
  3. Place un-washable items outdoors in the sun (or by the window) to let the UV rays neutralize the smell.
  4. Put a cup of baking soda in a garbage bag with any items you can’t wash, like books or important papers. Let them sit in a sealed bag for a day, or better yet, dry overnight. Then, shake off the powder.

8. Neutralize smoke odor

As we've already learned, baking soda and vinegar

As we’ve already learned, baking soda and vinegar can effectively get rid of cigarette smoke smell. But activated charcoal works, too! Use all three to help neutralize stale cigarette smells in your apartment.

  1. Place bowls of baking soda around the room to absorb the odors in particularly pungent areas. They’ll eventually reach a saturation point, so you may have to rotate fresh bowls in. Kitty litter is another effective tool!
  2. Boil a pot of vinegar on the stove for a few hours to neutralize stale cigarette smoke. Don’t worry, the vinegar smell will fade in time.
  3. Purchase small bags of activated charcoal at home improvement and hardware stores and set them around the apartment.

Now, kick back and let these natural deodorizers do their thing! Add in an essential oil diffuser or simmer some lemon peels or orange peels on the stove to go the extra mile at removing odors.

9. Use an air purifier

Once you've removed or neutralized the odors and c

Once you’ve removed or neutralized the odors and cleaned the surfaces as well as you can, turn your attention to the air itself. A purifier that meets HEPA standards will filter out 99.97 percent of larger particulates like many of those found in cigarette smoke.

  1. Set up at least one air purifier with approved HEPA air filters. Check the model to see how many square feet it can handle.
  2. The most effective options also have an activated charcoal filter to filter out smaller particles, as well.
  3. Change the filters as recommended.

Air purifiers also help to clean disgusting bacteria, viruses, allergens and other harmful stuff.


Mop all the floors that are not carpeted. As time passes and more particles fall out of the air and the contents of your apartment, they will end up on the floor, so several cleanings will be necessary. Dip your mop in the soapy solution, wash the floor and then rinse the mop in the sink under fresh running water. Otherwise, the smoke particles will just float around in your mop bucket and end up back on the floor.

Things You Will Need Fan Soap Water White vinegar Bucket Rags Vacuum with hepa filter Upholstery cleaner Mop