Cigarette smell moved in? How to evict the odor
Cigarette smoke can stake a claim to every surface in an apartment after repeated exposure. No material is immune to its saturation: carpet fibers, curtains, furniture—including cabinets, walls and ceilings. The problem intensifies each day that you leave that stale stench alone. New materials end up smelling very old in a short period of time. You only have to imagine how often your former tenants smoked indoors, most likely on a daily basis.
Fortunately your next tenants won’t have to deal with lingering stale cigarette smoke if you follow these suggestions.
1. Start with air flow
You’ve got to get some fresh, dry air flowing through the affected rooms. You’ve also got to let sunshine help in deodorizing those areas. Open every window, and pull the curtains back to let the sun’s rays in. If your rental has ceiling fans, be sure to turn those on—the more air circulation the better.
Cross-ventilation will also help in clearing the air. If you have box fans or window fans, place them in opposite windows if possible for a strong cross-breeze. Even if the smoky smell is lessened, keep the windows open as long as possible as you’re cleaning—and even afterward. The night air will freshen the area, so if you can leave windows open and inch or two in the evening, do so.
2. Clean the ceiling first
It’s always best to get the least favorite surface to clean taken care of first. Ceilings are often overlooked when it comes to cigarette smoke odor. Remember that smoke travels upward, permeating your ceiling in the process.
As for a cleaning solution, you can make your own. Just create a blend of one part white vinegar to two parts water. Vinegar is a wonder liquid: it has the power to both clean and deodorize a myriad of surfaces. Dip a soft cloth into your homemade solution, wring out the excess moisture, and begin applying the soaked cloth to the affected surface (even ceiling tiles). For smooth ceilings, wipe the area down; for popcorn ceilings, you’ll need to spritz a fine mist of the vinegar solution rather than wipe it down.
3. Deodorize window coverings and walls
Now it’s time to deodorize any window coverings. They’ll need to be removed, of course. Take sheers or drapes outside to air them out. This may not be enough, so be prepared to take them to a dry cleaner (you may want to mention that you need to remove cigarette smoke odor). If you can find an eco-friendly dry cleaner, even better!
It’s time to fetch the white vinegar again. We can’t emphasize enough vinegar’s ability to clean and deodorize hard surfaces, particularly washable walls and wood or vinyl blinds. Simply dip a soft cloth in vinegar, then wring out most of the liquid till the cloth is only damp. Wipe the surfaces from the top down, rinsing the cloth between wipes. And don’t fret over the smell—vinegar odor disappears rapidly, taking with it the stench of stale smoke.
Before you begin applying the vinegar it might be a good idea to find out if the paint or wallpaper can tolerate moisture. Test an inconspicuous area by dabbing it with a vinegar-moistened cloth. Once the area is dry, check to see if any damage has occurred. If the surface looks good, proceed with the clean up.
4. Clean rugs and carpeting
We mentioned earlier that smoke rises, and you should definitely clean your ceilings. Carpets, because they cover a large surface area, can trap cigarette odor within the fibers. Follow these tips to banish that smell.
• Sprinkle baking soda over the carpet or rugs
• Vacuum the baking soda after it’s sat for 30 minutes or more
• Spritz the carpet with a light mist of two parts water to one part vinegar should the odor remain
• Aim a fan at the carpet or rugs to hasten drying time
• If necessary, repeat the baking soda cleaning
5. Wash hard floors
Use a non-wax cleaner to wash floors; make sure that the cleaner is recommended for that particular type (or brand) of flooring. A mixture of warm water and a neutral pH soap works well for hardwood or bamboo flooring. A solution of vinegar and water can be used on some vinyl and laminate floors. Do NOT use vinegar on stone tiles or in grouted areas.
6. Clean cabinets and furniture
Cigarette smoke odor can travel to surfaces you’d never expect. That stench can even find its way into closed cupboards and drawers. Here’s what to do about that:
• Wipe washable surfaces down with one cup of white vinegar per quart of water; use a soft lint-free cloth.
• Spritz the insides of cupboards and drawers with a fine vinegar mist.
• Leave the doors and drawers open to air them out and to dry them at the same time.
• For any lingering odor, place bowls of dry coffee grounds and wads of newspaper inside the cupboards and drawers for a few days.
7. Repaint the walls
If you’ve done all of the extensive cleaning outlined above, and you still smell smoke, it’s time to go nuclear. The only sure way to remove that lingering stench is to repaint the walls with an odor-blocking primer. Look on the bright side: most of the time a tenant will smoke in only one to two rooms, so repainting these rooms should eliminate 90% of the smell. If you apply a thick coat of primer, and follow with an eggshell, or semi-gloss top coat, you can remove the odor completely.
The bottom line is that most people do not want to rent an apartment reeking of cigarette odor—believe it or not, even smokers as well! It’s best, if you don’t have it already, to include a no-smoking policy in your lease agreement. This will put potential tenants on notice that should they smoke inside the rental they’ll lose their security deposit when and if they vacate the property. This makes for a good, enforceable incentive to keep your property smoke-free during their tenancy. If you are dealing with smoke damage do not hesitate to give us a call! We are the #1 fire and smoke damage restoration company in San Diego! 619-376-6838