7 Tips for Removing Cigarette Smoke From a Home when Selling

Real Estate Agent with Hansen Real Estate Group Inc.

7 Tips for Removing Cigarette Smoke From a Home when Selling

When selling your home, you want to make it as desirable as possible to get the best price. Anything that could put off buyers will get in the way of this aim and could cost you.

Cigarette smoke is one of those problems that can negatively affect the opinion of potential buyers, even if they smoke themselves. If a smoker has lived in the home, cigarette smoke removal is an issue that needs to be solved before showings begin.

As well as the odor, the paintwork can be stained by the nicotine in the smoke. However, there are many things you can do to deal with these problems and make your home easier to sell.

Fresh Air

Open up the home as much as possible, opening windows and doors to allow fresh air in. Fans can also help the airflow through the home to get rid of the odor.

Bowls containing baking soda, vinegar, activated charcoal, and even kitty litter, can be placed throughout the home to absorb the smell.

Air purifiers or ozone generators can remove a persistent smoke smell. If you have an air purifier with a HEPA filter, that can solve the problem. But if that doesn’t work, an ozone generator could be an option. The ozone needs to reach high levels to combat air pollutants, however, this can be harmful to health and isn’t advised for occupied spaces.

Clean Up

The first step in cleaning the home is to get rid of cigarette butts and any ashtrays in the property.

As the walls will attest, the chemicals in cigarette smoke stick to surfaces. There are environmentally friendly cleaning products, such as hot water with white vinegar mixed 50/50 can be used to clean hard surfaces in the home.

If a stronger or deeper clean is required to deal with stains on walls and ceilings baking soda can be added. Add half a cup of baking soda to a cup of vinegar and 2 cups of water, and use a sponge to clean the surfaces.


Even after cleaning the walls and ceilings, a fresh coat of paint will normally still be required to totally remove the smoke odor and staining. Primer designed to combat odors can be used before the final coat to ensure the smell is gone for good.

Cleaning the Floors

Tips for Removing Cigarette Smoke from a Home when SellingSmoke will be absorbed into carpets and other furnishings. If you don’t want to replace the carpets, they can be cleaned. Baking soda can be sprinkled and left overnight before vacuuming to lessen the odor.

If there is still a problem, white vinegar and water can help. Hiring a professional cleaner is another option that can help you avoid the need to replace the carpets.

For hardwood floors, you can use a similar mixture to the walls. It might take two or three applications with a mop to remove the odor before a final rinse.

The baseboards and doors shouldn’t be forgotten either. You might avoid the need to repaint if you can scrub the nicotine off. A sponge with water and a suitable cleaning product might return these painted surfaces to their original color.


Window frames will also need to be cleaned as well as the windows themselves. Curtains and blinds will absorb a lot of cigarette smoke, and it might be better to simply replace them.

You can also try cleaning, soaking blinds in a suitable cleaning solution for a short period can remove the nicotine. Curtains can be taken to the dry cleaners, or machine washed on a hot setting to avoid replacing them.


Upholstery will hold the smell of cigarette smoke which can be improved with baking soda left overnight. This should be vacuumed off the next day, and if there is still an odor, white vinegar or specialist cleaning products can make a difference.

White vinegar can also be used on other furniture, like cabinets, to deal with the smoke residue.


Filters in air conditioning units can hold on to the odor of cigarette smoke. When the unit is used, the odor is redistributed around the home. Filters should be replaced to prevent this from happening. Adding some essential oils to your filter can help s well.

Final Thoughts

Removing cigarette smoke odor from a home, might not be a quick job. With smoke getting into every part of the room, completely removing the issue can mean a lot of cleaning, repainting, and replacing. Though if you do a good job, your hard work will pay off with an increased sale price for your home.

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About the Author:
Michelle Gibson is a full-time Realtor with the Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. She has been specializing in residential real estate throughout Palm Beach County Florida since 2001. Specific areas of expertise include; Wellington, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Loxahatchee, Greenacres, Lake Clarke Shores, Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Delray Beach, and Jupiter.
Whether you're looking to buy, sell or rent Michelle will be able to walk you through your entire real estate transaction from start to finish.
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Comments (10)

Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Michelle and great information for you to share with us here in the Rain.  Make it a great day!

Jun 21, 2022 08:25 AM
Greg Mona
West USA Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

Hi Michelle. You've touched upon a difficult problem to fully solve. All of your suggestions were good ones. I may add having the HVAC ductwork itself cleaned can be helpful as well. 

Jun 21, 2022 08:29 AM
Nina Hollander, Broker
Coldwell Banker Realty - Charlotte, NC
Your Greater Charlotte Realtor

Hi Michelle... I've had houses that have had all that done and still reeked of tobacco smoke. The only thing that worked was oxygenating  the home and that's not an inexpensive process.

Jun 21, 2022 10:06 AM
Jeffrey DiMuria 321.223.6253 Waves Realty
Waves Realty - Melbourne, FL
Florida Space Coast Homes

It makes such a difference to remove the smoke stink. So many homes do not sell simply because the buyers walk in and say...it stinks of smoke in here.

Jun 21, 2022 10:19 AM
Larry Brewer - Benchmark Realty llc
Benchmark Realty LLc - Nashville, TN

Hi Michelle - I used to have lots of cases of this problem but not in several years now. Not sure of the whole reason but it seems like the few smokers I know smoke outside thankfully. Have a great day

Jun 21, 2022 01:04 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Retired Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Michelle- removing smoke odor isn't easy but it has to be done!  You've shared some excellent tips. 

Jun 21, 2022 05:37 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Michelle it has been ages since we connected and what a great educational post you provided here to sellers, yes when in doubt a good smelly paint will get rid of the smoke, Endre

Jun 21, 2022 10:58 PM
Richard Weeks
Dallas, TX
REALTOR®, Broker

Great information, thanks for sharing.  I hope you have a great day.

Jun 22, 2022 02:55 AM
Jim Patton
Aspire Home Real Estate 209-404-0816 - Modesto, CA
Realtor - Stanislaus ,Merced, San Joaquin Counties

Michelle Gibson I once had a listing several years ago.  Upon entering the home you could smell the smoke.  The sellers moved out as I listed it.  When I went back into the home after everything was out it was then I could see the stained walls.  You could see where every photo had been hanging through out the house.  What I thought were off white walls were actually nicotine stained walls and the white was under all the photo frames.

Jun 22, 2022 12:14 PM