I smelt it, but sadly, I didn't dealt it.
June 21, 2015 4:12 PM   Subscribe

How can I get hidden and entrenched cigarette smoke out of a room?

The former residents on my house were smokers. Like big smokers. Like an entire family of cigar, cigarette and everything else under the sun smokers. They smoked outdoors, indoors and particularly in the bedroom. For 30 years.

When the house was "cleaned up" for sale, what is obvious that happened is that the measures that people take to clean out the smell of smoke (washing down the walls with vinegar and other cleaners, for example) were not done. Instead it seems like the owners just painted over the walls - and with it a thick layer of 30 years of sticky cigar/cigarette smoke that had accumulated. So the walls now give off a stinky smoke odor. Gross. Fortunately if there were carpets, they are all gone - so it's just hardwood floors.

Aside from stripping the paint from the walls - is there something else I could do? I feel like vinegar on the walls wouldn't work, because the smoke is coming from under the paint. I have these odor eliminating gel balls - are there other things that can help?
posted by Toddles to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Killz. To seal the walls. Or new sheet rock.

Here's the deal.... Every light fixture, vent, electrical outlet is FULL of tobacco residue. It's a difficult thing to fix.

Do you own or rent?

You might be able to legally request remediation be done. Tobacco residue is considered a toxic substance in some jurisdictions. I think.
posted by jbenben at 4:20 PM on June 21, 2015

You can wash even painted walls with a TSP solution and a sponge mop, despite what the box says.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:21 PM on June 21, 2015

Best answer: This recent comment addresses this problem exactly.
posted by Specklet at 7:41 PM on June 21, 2015

I encountered this sort of thing today as well. Washed down all the walls, but the stucco ceilings are going to be a real pleasure to deal with. No idea what we're going to do about those.
posted by bink at 8:36 PM on June 21, 2015

I had this problem when I bought my house (add in a bit of stale dog pee into the mix too!) Getting rid of the carpets was a good start, but, sugar soaping, then painting the walls, ceilings and putting down a new laminate floor did the trick. You could literally smell the odour decreasing as each new bit was painted - like magic. Haven't replaced the sockets etc.
posted by prentiz at 2:17 AM on June 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Try spraying and cleaning the walls with Odoban disinfectant.
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 9:40 AM on June 22, 2015

In particular, I would focus on the ceilings and any hanging light fixtures (ceiling fans, glass dome). What type of ceilings do you have (acoustic, flat or textured)?

If acoustic (popcorn), then scrape that crap (would probably want to do anyway). Only way to get rid of it in that stuff. There is a procedure for scraping, so look it up. others can be washed, sanded and painted. If textured, you will need to redo the texture.

For the fixtures, I would remove them and see if you can wash the glass domes and if the fixture itself does not smell too bad, then it can be saved. If not, consider replacing. Same with ceiling fans.

Also, do you have central Air/Heating? If so, then this will be difficult. Obviously, replace the filter, but there are companies that come out and clean your ducts. I would say this is #1 on the list (even though I listed it last).
posted by Mr. F at 8:35 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

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