How to make a smoking area smell less horrible?
August 21, 2014 9:10 PM   Subscribe

On a lanai in southwest florida, there is some heavy daily smoking going on. Even with three walls made of screens that open to outside, the smell remains. Looking to find ways to mitigate the stale and persistent smoke smell. The amount of smoking is not going to decrease, looking for a product that will help with the smell from the actual smoking and the ashtrays full of butts (which are emptied fairly often.)

Obviously, not smoking in the area is a great solution to this problem. Please refrain from expressing this; we know - its not us. Have tried the charcoal and vinegar remedies, not much difference was made. Willing to spend $150+ on a product of some sort. Cigarette receptacle? Odor removing apparatus? Anything! Any suggestions?
posted by slowtree to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I use Febreze. You might try the little car air fresheners they make. Costco sells a four-pack. Just hang them where they'll catch a breeze into or through the space.

I smoke inside, even in the winter, and by judicious placement of these little things in the heat registers, visitors always remark that my house doesn't smell like smoke.
posted by caryatid at 9:19 PM on August 21, 2014

Heavy duty cleaning. The three screens need to be soaked and wiped down. Upholstery washed. Ceiling and floor scrubbed. Light fixtures wiped down. You get the idea!

After this, weekly cleaning to maintain.

What you are smelling is leftover smoke particles, tar residue, etc..

Yes, special ashtrays might help, too. But regular cleaning is the ticket.
posted by jbenben at 9:25 PM on August 21, 2014 [5 favorites]

I'm from a family of big cigar smokers, and this is what we've done to minimize the smell.

If there's furniture with cushions, get new furniture that doesn't need cushions. Minimize upholstery in the area--no curtains, no cushions, no throw rugs, etc.

If you can install a fan, do so. Overhead fans--the sort you see in living rooms--are actually a great outdoor addition, and forcing the air to circulate seems to really keep residual odors down. If you can't install an overhead fan, directional ones are good, too, though not, in my experience, as good.

Bring in some more plants--putting some potted plants in the same area as the smoking seems to help. (This might be psychological, but...well, who cares?)

Also, I haven't tried this, but putting some activated charcoal in the ashtrays (or the area in general, really) might help, too.
posted by MeghanC at 9:43 PM on August 21, 2014

One of my friends, lo these many years ago (2003?) when everyone still smoked and everyone still smoked inside, had a special ashtray that contained the smoke somewhat. This was achieved via the shape and some kind of internal fan. It was something like this, probably.

Also back in the proverbial day, I had some success with neutralizing smoke odor in my car with ozone spray. You can find this at auto supply stores, or large home improvement outfits. This could be expensive for a whole house, though, on a daily regimen.

The last time I smoked inside, I invested in a tower air purifier (readily available at Target, Wal*Mart, whatever). It did really help, though my room and clothes still smelled. I resolved to not do that anymore, after that experiment, and now smoke exclusively outside.

Which leads me to ask; who is doing this smoking, if not you? If the person in question is presumably going to be okay with adopting whatever device you purchase, couldn't they agree to slightly modify their behavior? I mean, it's Florida; it's not like it's minus 20 or something.* Even stepping out for every second or third butt could make a major difference. Not trying to be difficult, just trying to understand who's in control of the property, or why the smoking is not negotiable, etc.

* Understood that they might be physically limited, or what have you.
posted by credible hulk at 11:12 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

A ceiling fan. Even with three screened sides, you're probably not getting a lot of actual air movement clearing the area. Adding (short) plants might be nice too, but what you really need is a method of sweeping out the old stale smokey air --- so install a good strong fan.
posted by easily confused at 3:44 AM on August 22, 2014

Found this using Yahoo search.

Mostly what jbenben said. I've been trying to convince the building manager to power wash it weekly but he's at least upped it to quarterly.
posted by Buttons Bellbottom at 6:24 AM on August 22, 2014 [2 favorites]

Plants! Rosemary, lavender, mint, anything that smells when brushed up against. It won't get rid of the smell, nothing will, but it may hide the smell and help with cleaning the air.
posted by myselfasme at 6:25 AM on August 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Open ashtrays usually smell worse than the smoke that gets in stuff if you clean the space decently often. That said, it is hard to get smells out of screens since smoke is a little sticky and there are so many surfaces. I'd suggest getting as much hoseable stuff on the porch as possible (so less upholstery to hold smells in) and invest in one of these ashtray things that will put the butts down far away from the people (examples: 1, 2, 3) and one of those smoke eater fans (random industrial example) that will keep as much smoke as possible from reaching the things that it will stick to.
posted by jessamyn at 7:21 AM on August 22, 2014

What jbenben said plus a moroccan ashtray- it keeps the butts covered so it stinks less. When it comes time to empty it, dump it in an old coffee can with a lid. When the coffee can is full, the whole things goes in the trash and you start a new, lidded can.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:27 AM on August 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Baking soda boxes intended for your freezer might also help. Get several of them. They are cheap and easily disposed of/replaced.
posted by Michele in California at 10:02 AM on August 22, 2014

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