Asked on Oct 17, 2017

How can I eliminate the effects of third-hand smoke?



Unknown to us, a tenant smoked heavily for a number of years in the room he rented from us. His life was saved when an ambulance rushed him to the ER, but now we are left with walls impregnated with the chemicals of third-hand smoke. After weeks of airing out, the smell is gone, but the walls remain tinted a nicotine-brown and may still be dangerous.

Research on the internet confirms that this is a danger, but has not yielded a method of eliminating the effects.

Any advice will be appreciated.

Thank you.

6 answers
  • Andrew Bounader
    on Oct 17, 2017

    Hi Mirozen2,
    You have a real dilemma, there are ways to remove the bulk of the smoke stains by washing / scrubbing all the walls, ceilings and trim with sugarsoap paint prep, wear gloves and a mask, prior to sealing the walls with a stain blocking sealer such as zinsser. Then a couple of good quality finish coats of ceiling, wall and trim over the top of that will prevent the chemicals leaching through.
  • Ebbjdl
    on Oct 17, 2017

    Start buy wiping down the wall with some mild dish soap diluted with warm water, rinse the walls . completely 2 days, let the house warmth dry them, don't open windows, it will bring in moisture. Wash the wood work with Murphy's oil soap, follow the directions on the bottle, let dry completely. Paint with a latex flat, preferably white or beige. Let dry, then paint the color you want. No primer is needed, don't get one already in the paint. I recommend Glidden, penetrates well.
  • DesertRose
    on Oct 17, 2017

    You need to wash any material such as curtains and bedding, if there are any in the room. Also the carpet would need a deep cleaning. The walls would have to be painted new and ceiling to rid the room of the odor. Any hard surface and closet would also need scrubbed with a deodorizer cleaner such as Simple Green to rid the room of the smoke. Good luck, you have a job ahead of you.
  • Fiddledd224
    on Oct 17, 2017

    If you have done everything possible, your only next step is to call a pro. A few years ago I had smoke damage in my house from a fireplace malfunction, and they came out and totally removed both the smoke and the insidious remnants that seeped into my walls. I definitely recommend this - it works.
  • Kim
    on Oct 17, 2017

    Mirizen2 is right. If you live in the US, sugarsoap is TSP. TSP cuts right through the smoke build up and preps your paint to be painted. Wearing gloves and a mask and Priming your walls with a stain blocking sealer are important as well.
    If this is a room in your house, you may want to wash down all of your walls. I know that is a huge job but smoke doesn’t just stay in the room of the smoker.

    I hope that helps
    : )
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