Removing the smell of smoke from apartment?
August 9, 2008 9:02 AM   Subscribe

Any tips or advice on how to remove the smell of smoke from an entire apartment? Roommate left a pot of boiling eggs on and forgot about it, am I in the clear if I ask my roommate that caused the problem to pay for it?

So my roommate was cooking late last night and ended up falling asleep while leaving the stove on with his hard boiled eggs. It was only due to the smoke detector that I managed to wake up in the middle of the night and found the entire apartment filled with smoke, thankfully there wasn't any fire but the place took an hour to clear of the smoke.

I noticed just how bad it was this morning when I went outside for some errands and came back inside. I don't think there is no amount of febreeze that could stop the smell.

I'm thinking we would actually need to do professional cleaning? Am I right to ask him to pay for all the cleaning? I know if we don't clean this we would end up losing our deposit and probably paying extra to get the smell removed anyway..

Thanks for your input or opinions.
posted by spacesbetween to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If this only happened last night, you might try waiting a few days to see if the smell dissipates on its own before you call in expensive professional help. Leaving the windows open will help, and you could also try wiping down household surfaces with a damp rag-- even those that look clean may be covered with a fine layer of soot that'll keep giving off a smell until it's removed.

If, after a week or two, the smell still persists at its current levels, I'd say you're within your rights to suggest that the roomie pay for professional cleaners.
posted by Bardolph at 9:24 AM on August 9, 2008

I'd start by opening all the windows and purchasing an exhaust fan that will pull air out of the apartment. Position that in one window.

Rent a carpet steam-cleaner from your local Safeway (if you're in the US, your profile doesn't specify) and clean all the carpets. I've found that the steam cleaning solution really helps with overall house odors.

If all else fails (I'm sure people with better housekeeping skillz will be on with more informed advise), yes, get a professional cleaning. And he pays.
posted by arnicae at 9:25 AM on August 9, 2008

It depends a great deal on the type of walls and fibers in the apartment but generally, it fades over time. Try leaving small bowls of baking soda about the apartment and/or burning some incense.
posted by geekyguy at 9:27 AM on August 9, 2008

I would go with the airing out, with fans in the windows if you can. I have also heard that fresh ground coffee (uncooked) will absorb odors. (At least that is what the Car Talk guys told someone who had a friend vomit in the car or some other similar horrible smell.) The coffee worked well in our camper bathroom that was rather, uh, musty.

wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 9:37 AM on August 9, 2008

Protein smoke can be a really persistent problem. I used to be in insurance restoration work, and a chicken getting forgotten on a stove could lead to repainting the entire house and steam cleaning all carpets, in addition to washing down every surface in the kitchen and other heavily smoked areas.

Good luck. Do you have insurance?
posted by Meatbomb at 9:50 AM on August 9, 2008

This same thing happened to me in college, and successful odor removal will really depend on exactly how saturated with smoke your apartment was. (In my case, I'd gone out to class with eggs on the stove, and the fire department eventually had to come break down my door. The lingering smell did NOT leave my clothing or furniture, and I had to either replace or professionally clean everything.)

Since you were in the house when the alarm went off and are not now in the hospital for smoke inhalation, I'm going to assume that the smoke wasn't too heavy. In this case, I think you can get away with using as many odor extracting products as you can get your hands on. Also, Febreze makes an excellent plug-in air filter, and I'm pretty sure there are filter pads for it that are designed specifically for smoke removal. Good luck!
posted by elizardbits at 11:11 AM on August 9, 2008

Yeah Bi-carb is pretty good stuff. But it'll work even better if you fling it around the place and leave it over night. It vacuums out of the carpet (provided your vacuum actually picks up dirt to begin with :) and just wipes up. It absorbs stink and sticks to finer stuff (like dust or cat hair) and makes it easier to pick up.

I use a tea strainer (because how else could you fling it up curtains?) :) No. Well yes, but mostly I just use if for sifting out onto carpet. Apparently they don't make 'em like they used to but you'll be able to pick an old one up for nothing at a thrift store anyway.

Depending on how bad it is, maybe think about getting your clothes and as much as your stuff as possible, out of there asap. Whatever stink is on them will 'defunkify' elsewhere and it'll make your place easier to un-stink with less stuff for stink to cling to in it.

If he hasn't been making attempts at cleaning it already I wouldn't wait to suggest that he needs to get onto that.
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 2:36 PM on August 9, 2008

When I did this, 10 lbs. of baking soda thrown everywhere, two nights in a hotel room, and a week of good ventilation worked for me...and I had egg on the ceiling.
posted by mrmojoflying at 5:42 PM on August 9, 2008

Boiling vinegar can help remove smells. Sounds weird, but it works.
posted by at 3:21 AM on August 10, 2008

« Older why am i so forgettable?   |   How do I enable simple file sharing on Server 2008... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.