Even smokers themselves rarely enjoy the lingering, pungent aroma of stale cigarettes and old cigarette smoke. Unfortunately, these are odors that don’t readily dissipate after cigarettes have been stubbed out or after all butts and ashes have been deposited in an outside bin.
Whether you smoke, have housemates who smoke, or are simply cleaning a rental house after smokers have left, it’s important to know how to thoroughly eliminate these smells. The following covers seven tips for completely eradicating cigarette odors from your Lake Zurich home.
1. Don’t Try to Mask the Odor
Burning cigarettes release a large number of chemicals. These and other residues settle on walls, counters, carpeting, and other indoor surfaces. Moreover, smoke-related residue will invariably remain until it has been thoroughly cleaned away.
Although you might be tempted to use store-bought odor-removing sprays to mask the unpleasant aroma, doing so will only compound your problem and further diminish your indoor air quality (IAQ). This is also true for perfumes, scented candles, and plug-in air fresheners. These solutions might work in very small areas and for very short periods of time, but they’ll ultimately leave your home smelling even worse than when you started.
2. Air It Out
Pervasive smoke odors can be frustrating. They can also give you a headache and trigger problems with asthma and allergies. In many ways, cigarette smoke odors can be just as unhealthy as cigarette smoke itself, so it’s important not to take this cleaning project lightly.
Wear gloves to keep chemicals from permeating and temporarily discoloring your skin. Wear a mask while cleaning, and be sure to open the entire unit up and let it air out as much as possible before getting started. Although letting fresh air flow in through the windows and doors is guaranteed to have a few mood-boosting benefits, and it may even limit or prevent allergic reactions, airing out the home will not remove smoke odors on its own.
It’s important to remember where these odors are coming from and why they remain long after the actual smoke has dissipated. Smoking cigarettes indoors leaves everything coated in a sticky residue. You might also discover that furnishings, window treatments, and other indoor elements have been coated with a light dusting of ash, especially if residents carelessly knocked over ashtrays or tapped their ashes on the flooring.
If you’re working in a severely malodorous home, be sure to take plenty of breaks. Regularly walk outside and breathe deeply. If you have them handy, you can also set up fans and position them to create a refreshing cross-breeze.
3. Wash and Remove
Always start by getting rid of all cigarette butts and dirty ashtrays first. Although everything likely smells of cigarettes, these things will smell the worst. Tossing them out before tackling larger and more challenging odor-removal tasks will create a far more pleasant work environment.
Eliminating cigarette odors is often easiest when only a very limited amount of smoking has occurred. However, if you’re cleaning out a rental home that’s housed a long-time indoor smoker for several months or more, much of the interior is likely coated in a thick, tacky substance that reeks and may have caused noticeable discoloration.
The walls, windows, and other hard surfaces in a smoker’s home often have a decidedly yellow tinge. To get rid of the coating responsible for this tinge and remove the pungent smoke odors, you’ll need to use an appropriate solution to wash everything down. You may need to have the following things professionally cleaned:
- Tiles and grout
- Drapes and other window treatments
- Upholstered surfaces
- Mirrors and windows
- Light fixtures
Professional cleaners can assess these indoor features to determine whether or not they’re worth salvaging. In homes with severe smoke-odor problems, removing the drapes, the carpeting, and its underlying padding, and any stained tiles and linoleum is often the quickest and most cost-effective solution.
4. Prime All Walls and Ceilings
You might discover that simply washing the walls and ceilings is not enough to remove all smoke odors and all of the resulting discoloration. These surfaces often need to be repainted. However, before they’re repainted, they must be primed.
Whether you choose to do the interior painting yourself or opt to hire a professional painter, always make sure that this step isn’t neglected. This will seal odors out and allow you to create a consistently fresh-smelling environment.
5. Schedule Professional Duct Cleaning Services
If you’re cleaning smoke odors out of a home that has a central HVAC system, having the ductwork and HVAC equipment professionally cleaned is an absolute must. Until smoke and chemical residues are removed from the ducts, the problem will invariably recur. Changing the HVAC air filter out is hardly enough. Even if you thoroughly clean everything throughout the building, prime and repaint the ceilings and walls, and remove the carpeting, neglecting your HVAC system and its ductwork will leave you right where you started. As old smoky air and chemical residues are recirculated by the HVAC system, all upholstered and hard surfaces will again develop a thick, sticky coating, and new evidence of discoloration will appear.
Timing the cleaning of your HVAC ductwork is important. After all, you don’t want to start with this feature while the carpets, walls, and ceilings are still dirty and reeking. However, you also want to limit your use of the HVAC system while you’re attempting to clean everything up. This is one of many reasons why it’s often best to work with odor removal specialists when working in buildings with significant damage caused by smoke residue.
6. Consider the Likelihood of Smoke Residue in Unseen Areas
The most unfortunate thing about cigarette smoke and odor control is that some of the affected areas aren’t visible and many aren’t easily accessible. Smoke can travel anywhere. In homes with regular indoor smokers, even the spaces behind the drywall are affected.
Cigarette smoke can permeate attic areas and get into the attic insulation. With regular indoor smoking, no interior surface or feature is left untouched. Sadly, this is the main reason why even the most diligent cleaning efforts will sometimes provide substandard results.
This is where odor removal specialists come in. Not only can they assist you in timing your cleanup effort for an optimum outcome, but they can also clean and deodorize the spaces that you might overlook or may be incapable of reaching. Additionally, they can recommend long-term strategies for preventing future problems with smoke odors, particularly when these odors are the result of neighboring properties or other outside factors.
7. Invest in an Air Purifier
Sometimes smoke odor removal requires ongoing effort. Once your HVAC system is cleaned, consider investing in an air purifier. This is definitely an important investment if smoke odors aren’t the result of indoor activities. Although your HVAC system’s air filter will collect and retain airborne particulates, it will not capture and retain cigarette smoke or the chemical by-products of smoking. While air filters merely filter the indoor air, an air purifier will actually clean it.
At Pur360, we offer reliable odor removal services all throughout the greater Lake Zurich, IL, area. We also have offices in Wisconsin, Texas, and Florida. In addition to odor removal, our team provides mold testing, mold removal, and ultraviolet sanitization. If lingering smoke odors are a concern in your primary residence or in one of your rental properties, we’re here to help. Call us today to schedule service.