Heavy smoker

by Vernette
My brother was a heavy smoker. I have a bedroom that reeks of cigarette smoke. I have used most of the wash compounds on the market. We're talking powder blue walls with brown rivulets! Does anyone have a recipe for a super duper cleaning compound. I washed drapes and furniture down but it still didn't help the odor.
  33 answers
  • TSP is about the best cleaner for this, however its not all about the cleaning that will remove the odors. Nicotine soaks into the drywall, wood and because its a gas it gets into areas behind trims, outlets, switches etc. I would suggest after doing a complete cleaning that you rent or have someone come in with an Ozone generator which will help a lot with removal of the odors. Then follow up with a good quality oil based primer on everything. This will help lock in the smells. Your biggest issue with this is when the weather becomes damp some odors will return because of it being inside the walls, insulation and any other soft areas you cannot get to during cleaning. You can also purchase specialty cleaning products. Here is a link for one of these. There are several more on this web site. I purchase many of my chemicals from these folks for mold and other odor control issues. http://www.jondon.com/proliminator-original-1.html
  • Beatriz Maria Beatriz Maria on Feb 02, 2015
    @beatriz maria The best and cheap way is white vinegar. Clean every item even the carpet with vinegar and let it be. You,ll be surprise.
  • Jela Cook Jela Cook on Feb 02, 2015
    Use Kilz to repaint.
  • Gail Roberts Gail Roberts on Feb 02, 2015
    There is a specific Kilz primer that is formulated to kill stains and odors. I have used it in the past and it works very well. Be sure to follow the manufactures recommendations for proper use.
  • Mary Bergman Mary Bergman on Feb 02, 2015
    everything needs to be repainted....celing, walls, closet. and if it's carpeted, that will need to be changed, or at least cleaned several times. another good cleaning product is Green Works by Clorox.
  • Laurie Laurie on Feb 02, 2015
    I had to paint my parents ceilings due to smoke stains and smell. Kilz primer then paint. It's really the only way I could get the problem solved.
  • Letty Letty on Feb 02, 2015
    I was recently told of SCOE 10. It worked wonderfully in removing the super strong smell of mice in our RV. Within seconds, we could breathe in there. Before, you could even smell it outside. I'm very glad I was told about this product.
  • RESAW RESAW on Feb 02, 2015
    I agree with Mary Bergman. You have to repaint everything. Ceiling, walls, trim the doors. You probably need to rip out the carpet and mop the floor before putting in new carpet. Smoke gets into everything.
  • Pat Walkup Pat Walkup on Feb 02, 2015
    30 years of smoking turned all the walls brown in addition to the smell in my parents' home. We used Zinnser ( like Kilz) primer, but had it tinted (instead of paint, so fewer coats). It took 3 COATS on every wall and ceiling to remove the color and smell. Removing all the carpets helped, but we found it still smelled in the most used room, living room, even after cleaning. We had to scrub the cement floor, and the kitchen cabinets with vinegar, that did it. Now you can't tell at all.
  • Letty Anton Letty Anton on Feb 02, 2015
    I used to smoke & I always used 1/4 - 1/2 c.ammonia and a good big squirt of Dawn dish soap in a bucket of water to clean the walls, ceiling & floors. Curtains were washed 2 times - 1st time with 1 c. of ammonia + extra laundry det. Then leave the windows wide open for a day or 2 to air the room out.
  • NancyL NancyL on Feb 02, 2015
    A realtor friend of mine suggested adding a bottle of pure vanilla to a gallon of paint! NancyL
  • Linda Schovanec Linda Schovanec on Feb 02, 2015
    When my dog tangled with a skunk..then came in the house, the vet told me to use fabric softener and water in a spray bottle to wash the walls...worked pretty good...still took a while.to get rid of the odor.
  • Carol Carol on Feb 02, 2015
    Equal parts water and white vinegar in spray bottle and spritz every visible area. Straight club soda works best on fabrics I've found. The stains and discoloration were less visible after spraying the carpet heavily, then shampooing.
  • Jolene Hamby Jolene Hamby on Feb 02, 2015
    A fairly new product called "ZeroOrder" Works great on ANY smells with out leaving any smells of it's own behind. There is a hint of bleach in the air that quickly disapears. It's all I use now.
  • Millie Sheehy Millie Sheehy on Feb 02, 2015
    Home Depot now carries room deodorizers/freshners that can be added to paints in many wonderful scents.
  • Marci N Marci N on Feb 02, 2015
    My husband was a painter and he said the best was TSP and then seal it with a really good primer. Don't skimp and get a cheap paint. Devoe puts out a good primer, it really helps the paint stick good. Gets rid of the stink too. The drapes and such if the TSP doesn't work in the washer might have to be tossed. Good luck. If worse comes to worse you can always pull the drywall down and re-drywall.
  • Sue Beaty Sue Beaty on Feb 02, 2015
    If the odor persists after you prime the walls, repaint and clean the carpet put out several bowls of white vinegar (one in each corner). Empty the bowls every other day adding more vinegar. Eventually, the cigarette odor will disappear. I did this in one of our duplex units and after about 10 days the odor was gone.
  • Carol Ann Robinson Carol Ann Robinson on Feb 02, 2015
    Was told by owner of carpet store that white vinegar was best to shampoo carpets, it doesn't grab the next tracked in dirt as shampoo does...and to get to the smell of cigarette smoke, we bought a used car with cloth interior, smelled so bad had to drive with window cracked open..tried open bag of lime under front seats, no work, tried charcoal under the seats, no work...put a single fabric softner sheet under each seat and the smell disappeared! It was cigar smoke which is worse than cigarette smoke.
  • N. Susan Hart N. Susan Hart on Feb 02, 2015
    You may have to Kilz the whole room. Speak to a paint store professional.
  • Marion Nesbitt Marion Nesbitt on Feb 02, 2015
    Use Kilz or the Zinzer product used for smoke damaged homes. Am a heavy smoker myself. Bought an Orek air purifier. Amazing at removing smoke and smoke odours, and tiny, tiny particles such as mold spores, etc. .A few hundred $, but worth it. No filters to replace - you just wash it when it signals it's time. Think they use Orek in navy subs. Can see why.
  • That Orek using is an Ozone system. So you understand what it really does it breaks down the atom molecule into two, this effectively destroys the odor. On mold however, it will kill the mold spore, but it does not make it any safer. As even the dead mold spores can be harmful. One last note, be sure to use this machine in well ventilated area. If the room tends to smell sweet, your over ozoning it and that is not healthy. I had a client who's kids were always stuffy and sick every morning. The only time the kids were OK was when they slept in their parents room at night. Turns out each kid had one of those Orek units in their rooms and the parents did not and slept with windows open. As soon as they removed those units, kids woke up fine in the am. Be sure your not using this in a confined space. Also keep it away from plants and animals. It will harm the critters and can kill the plants.
    • See 1 previous
    • @Marion Nesbitt I understand exactly how this works. Its basically a electronic air cleaner, that produces ozone. Still unsafe if its kept in a small room without much ventilation. The primary reason why this is not causing issues in most homes is because of most homes are so drafty and leak air. If the home were sealed properly as many of, at least in US home must start being constructed as of 2012 energy codes, there will be an increase in ozone issues. The majority of dust issues in homes comes from leaks of air that are pulled into the home through stack effect. This results in outside air that is not filtered or conditioned though the central heating and cooling system. While I have no doubt that these units work, if you installed, assuming you have forced air heat, a electronic filter, a special Ozone unit that mounts above the blower, and sealed your home. You would not only see less dust and get that "fresh air" smell your energy bills could be reduced by 20 to 30%
  • Belinda Todd Belinda Todd on Feb 02, 2015
    At Walmart they have small cans of deodorizer that absorbs smells. They work really well.
  • Lynn Lynn on Feb 02, 2015
    There is actually a machine you can rent. I have used it and works well. I am a smoker and was selling my home, although it did not have a strong cigarette odor, any non smoker immediately recognized a smokers house. ( I always have some type of deodorizer going ) anyway - as I recall it was a bit less than a hundred dollars, the downside is, you and pets must leave the home. The upside is- it took care of my 3000 sq ft home! Certainly a lot less work and paint expense! May be worth looking into for your situation.
    • @Lynn That is an ozone generator. Pets, plants all need to leave. These nifty devices also will kill bed bugs, push out mice and other critters in the home that are buried in the walls. The ozone destroys the O2 atom by splitting it, the result anything that relies on oxygen to survive with die or leave. But to much of the Ozone can also have a tendency to create a burning odor so it needs to be properly set up and operated.
  • Colimbia1 Colimbia1 on Feb 02, 2015
    If you have carpeting on the floor all the cleaning and painting won't do any good until you take the carpeting and pad out and throw it away,
  • Bonnie Bonnie on Feb 03, 2015
    All of the above info is very good advise, however, you will have to remove what is causing the odor for it to be completely gone. Tar and nicotine are sticky and will stick to any surface, which is the yellow drips/spots you see on the walls. If there was not a good paint layer underneath before the smoke covered it, the nicotine will have seeped into the drywall. Any product that has a degreaser in it will remove the tar/nicotine, and after it's removed you will need to paint a layer of Kilz and then paint with a good paint; there are several brands that are specifically formulated to cover stain and smoke damaged walls. Use semi-gloss so that you can wash your walls in the future if you need to. Flat paint is not washable. If you have carpeting, you can have it shampooed using a degreasing agent; do NOT let them tell you they will just "deoderize", this is just a cover and the odors will return. If they can't offer you a cleaning with degreasing, choose someone else to do the job. If the carpet is old, I would have it removed and replaced with new padding. If you're able to bleach your curtains, add a teaspoon of Dawn original dishwashing liquid (it is a WONDErFUL degreaser!) and add about 2 tablespoonsful of bleach. Let the water fill the tub completely to mix the bleach in so it won't cause any splotches of color in your curtains. This applies to bedding, also. Furniture and mattress may have to be removed from the room. The main thing to keep in mind is DEGREASE and DISINFECT. Deoderizing will just mask the odors, not eliminate them.
  • OnBlissStreet OnBlissStreet on Feb 03, 2015
    Kilz. It covers everything.
  • LibrarianTellsAll LibrarianTellsAll on Feb 04, 2015
    We bought a house that had the exact same problem--tar and nicotine were literally dripping down the walls. It was so gross! Here's what we did: 1. Wash the walls and ceilings 2. Prime with Kilz 3. Paint the walls, ceilings, and every cupboard/cabinet in the house 4. Replace ALL the carpet and carpet pads 5. Replace ALL window treatments Once we did that, the smoke smell was gone. Completely GONE. It was amazing! I'm not sure what furniture in the room, if any, belonged to your brother. Textiles hold smoke smell pretty much forever, so I'm guessing that you'll need to get rid of the carpet, drapes, mattress, and any upholstered furniture that was in the room when it belonged to him. Good luck! It's a lot of work, but it's worth it.
  • Nola Baker-Ramirez Nola Baker-Ramirez on Feb 06, 2015
    I just discovered and bought a product at Home Depot called TSP - Trisodium Phosphate. As the package says, it's an "All purpose heavy duty cleaner...cleans surfaces in preparation for painting." The brand I got is "Sunnyside", came in a 4 lb pouch, and costs $9.97. It's a powder that you mix one half cup with 2 gals of water. Painting is a last resort that I didn't want to do unless absolutely necessary. I've washed a couple of walls with it, and so far, so good. I don't know if it will help with your problem, but might be worth a try. Seems to me if you rid the walls of the tar/nicotine source, the smell should rid also! Might be worth a try before taking drastic measures!
  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Jun 12, 2015
    We had tenants who rented from us for less than a year, and were heavy smokers. After scrubbing the walls, ceilings and floors, we ended up using Kilz on all the ceilings. The walls and floors came clean with TSP and lots of scrubbing. The white ceilings were awful with the brown, yellow sticky stuff all over. After cleaning and repainting they looked like new. We rented a heavy carpet steamer for the carpet in the living room and bedrooms. The curtains were all tossed after I couldn't get the smell out. I had thought the carpets were a lost cause, but, they cleaned up after steaming them twice. Even the windows had a sticky glaze on them from the smoking - vinegar and scrubbing took care of that. Even the screens required a good scrubbing! The kitchen seemed to be the hub of the smoking, and I spent hours scrubbing everything before repainting. We kept the windows open during the day during the clean up, and fortunately the fresh air and sunshine helped. I can't imagine saving the carpet if it had prolonged exposure beyond what it did.. The others are right - there may be no saving it. I can say, after two years of additional tenants who didn't smoke, the place still smelled good when we cleaned before selling.
  • Stella Stella on Jun 12, 2015
    Tsp from home depot and kiltz
  • Denise Denise on Jul 16, 2015
    Laundry whitening solution: 1 C laundry detergent 1C Powder dishwasher detergent 1 C Bleach 1/2 C Borax
  • Mary Bergman Mary Bergman on Sep 17, 2016
    You will have to paint the ceilings and walls and trim. If it's carpeted, probably has to be changed. We purchased a rental home and renovated it. Tenants were smokers. Smelled awful. After painting (paint/primer) it was like a new home.