How to get rid of smoke odors in apartments after painting and cleaning carpets

Priscilla E
by Priscilla E
  23 answers
  • Pam Pam on Jun 06, 2012
    Did you change the AC/Heat filters too? I would try puting a bowl of vinegar inside the closet where the air flow is and run the central unit for a while. The vinegar should help neutralize the smoke odor. I am not stating that it will definitely work, but it's cheap and can't hurt.
  • Simple cleaning and or painting is not going to rid the room of smoke odors. What type of smoke are we talking about? fire or cigarette.
  • Priscilla E Priscilla E on Jun 06, 2012
    Cigarette smoke. I have tried vinegar but not in the a/c closet. Great idea
  • Pam Pam on Jun 06, 2012
    You might also try mixing fabrick sofener, vinegar and baking soda together in a spray bottle and spraying in the air intake while running the AC unit. It may help neutralize the soke smell in the duct work. Hope this helps. But is's cheap enough to give a try. It a homemede Fabreez but cheaper. Just stand in front f the AC intake an spritz a cuple times every couple of seconds to make sure it carries the mixture throughout the duct work. Good luck.
  • Priscilla, Changing the filters will only remove the smoke odor in the filter itself. What happens with smoke odors they become entrapped in the dust that has collected on the AC coil inside the blower cabinet. Also there is some form of insulation within the cabinet where the ac coil is housed to prevent it from sweating when it runs. This insulation also has become infused with the odors. This assumes of course you have a AC system. The carpets also contain padding that has been absorbing the smoke odors as well. Simple cleaning helps just a little bit. Even with professional cleaning it may take many attempts to rid the odors out. Check out this product it is what professionals use. But even if you completely remove the carpet, the odors are still in walls, floors and ceilings. Some paints will seal in the smoke odors, but will not get behind the walls where the odors have saturated. A house breaths and when this occurs it pulls the tobacco smoke with it. Leaving this by product stuck in the insulation, in electrical boxes and all sorts of places you cannot clean or get to. When it becomes damp out this odor is then released again. If the odors are really offending, and I know of no tobacco odor that is not. You may want to consider having a Ozone company come in and blast the house for one or two days. This Ozone will remove this smell quite fast. We do this in rental cars and used car lots to remove the odors left behind by people who smoked in their cars. We run the AC system when doing this and it gets rid of the odors trapped in the heating and cooling coils at the same time.
  • Home Repair Tutor Home Repair Tutor on Jun 06, 2012
    Thanks Woodbridge for the great response. Sometimes we run into the same issue with our rentals. The only solution I've ever had was to prime all the walls and ceilings with Kilz but even then the cigarette tar sometimes seaps through the paint in the bathroom due to all the high moisture. I may try the Ozone option down the road.
  • Bernice H Bernice H on Jun 06, 2012
    This is good to know. Thanks Woodbridge!
  • Karen V Karen V on Jun 07, 2012
    Fire D, it's an aerosol spray, this is what the professionals use to get rid of smoke. It's much cheaper than Primer Sealer on the ceilings and walls and ripping up the carpets, that's what we had to do. I am allergic to smoke.Cleaning it wasn't going to get it. I had to wash down everything with TSP, then wait for it dry, then paint it with Kiltz primer sealer, now I wish I had used the oil based it really does work better than the water base.
  • Justine H Justine H on Jun 07, 2012
    would that Fire D work in an automobile as well ?
  • Spray aerosols such as Fire D and there are many more as well, are not suggested for a smoke odor that has saturated in the walls, floors and insulation areas of a home. This type of product really only masks the odor and once humidity comes back so does the odor. While it may work in a confined space or single room, the whole home would need to be treated and you do not want to spray that much chemical in the air without knowing more about its chemical make up and what damage it could do if it got onto wood furnishings, plastics and paint. For that matter you could use Frabreeze odor spray.
  • Priscilla E Priscilla E on Jun 08, 2012
    Where can you buy this buy this Fire D
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jun 08, 2012
    There is a difference between using a deodorant type product and an odor removing product. The best I have found ever is ODOBAN. It used to be available at the big box discount stores but the only place I can find it now is WalMart. Look for it on the lower shelves of the odor control products area. It might be hard to find. We took an old chair out of the garage where we had stored it for 4 years for our daughter...boy did it stink!!! We ripped off the fabric since we were going to recover, sprayed the stuffing, turned it over and sprayed underneath....we sprayed every surface. We left it in the open air all day and resprayed. After 2 sprayings, it was odor free! We recovered back in 2009 and it still smells fresh! You can even use this on fabric, carpet, air, anywhere!
  • Linda W Linda W on Jun 13, 2012
    mix several drops of essential oils with baking soda, mix well, sprinkle over carpet, let it sit for hour, then vaccum. also place charcoal around room for a day or so or until ordor is gone
  • Karen V Karen V on Jun 14, 2012
    TSP solution, Start by removing the old carpet, or get ready to have it professionally cleaned, then wash the walls and ceilings down with TSP in a five gallon bucket with HOT water and use a whizz roller to get it up there, it will turn loose off of the ceiling and walls and get on your roller and then turn your roller dark brown from the tar and nicotine. have a clean bucket of water to rinse your roller, it saves on the TSP, wear gloves don't get it in your eyes. This is what I had to recently do in a foreclosed house that we bought, we couldn't even move our furniture into the master bedroom it was so nasty. all I kept thinking is What are they doing to their LUNGS?
  • Priscilla E Priscilla E on Jun 15, 2012
    Where can you get TSP solution. This is a new one on me.
  • TSP or tri sodium phosphate can be purchased at most home centers, hardware stores and many paint stores. However TSP will remove the surface layers of the built up nicotine. Which is yellow in color and will bleed through any latex paint put on it. And should be used for that exact reason. It will not remove the odors that have penetrated behind the walls, in the insulation, duct and and cooling system, the baseboard heating elements etc. The only two ways to remove this odor is to either completely remove all the walls and insulation and contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned or painted over and start over rebuilding, or have a professional Ozone company come in and neutralize the odors with heavy doses of Ozone. Here is a link from one of the many Ozone generator suppliers that may help explain better how this process works.
  • Karen V Karen V on Jun 16, 2012
    Lowes or Home Depot, in their Paint Department, it comes in a small carton, "looks like Heavy Cream container" but you read the directions, mix in a Five Gallon bucket with HOT water, you can use a pump sprayer, it will take the stain right out of Hard wood floors, so be careful not to get it every where and to wipe it up immediately. this is a slow pains taking process but it is totally worth it when it's done. Even Teen age boys and frilly girls can do this, besides it's good to teach kids about Hard Work, gives them a solid work ethic and sense of SELF VALUE.
  • Karen V Karen V on Jun 16, 2012
    Something else that I do is Wash the Walls down with Awesome, it is the most effective cleaner on the market, it will even remove old paint off of counter tops, out of bath tubs, it is only a dollar a bottle at Dollar Tree or Dollar General stores. I'm Swiss, we wash everything. Don't use Awesome on Carpets it will dissolve the glue. But it will clean the nastiest greasiest messes up off of doors, walls, light fixtures, anything that has been exposed to cigarette smoke. I clean with the Mr Clean Magic Eraser sponges too, they are Great for getting things off of walls, like crayon marks. Got Kids, Get Mr Clean...
  • Karen V Karen V on Jun 16, 2012
    I have about 30 Drop cloths, I tape them to the baseboards, I put plastic underneath, this is just part of prep work to keep chemicals and water off of the carpets, but usually I start with a New Structure or a remodel that doesn't have any carpet or padding in it. I use the Blue tape or the green Tape and I get it back off as quick as possible so it doesn't pull the paint off of the baseboards. I use Kiltz and Ben Zinnzers Primers, the best are the oil based primers, but you have to use mineral spirits to clean up your rollers or brushes, I don't waist my time, I just throw them away. You can use latex paint on top of Primer but not on top of Oil based paint. The prep work is the most important part of the job, when I remove wallpaper If I gouge the walls, then I skim them out with sheet-rock mud, this is a whole different process all together, and it is heavy, YOU will need a big strong man to lift and open the mud for you. Unless you are like me, "a pack mule". LOL thin down your mud with a little water, get the right tools for the job, I use a 4 inch, a 6 inch, an eight inch, 10 and 12 inch knife and a 12in mud pan. don't use "quick set" until you get really good with sheet rock finishing, it dries too fast and you need time to get this right but it's just like icing a Cake, except you need to do the whole process over several days. Do one Angle at a time, for instance' Vertical cracks" first, then the next day do the Horizontal cracks, "like your corners", apply mud and drywall tape or corner bead, dry, sand, apply more mud, dry, sand, apply about three times until it looks smooth and blemish free, and hand sand it with the right sand paper, it's black and comes in 4x10 sheets. then you'll be ready for Primer, and always use the primer or it will bleed through and you will be able to tell exactly where you patched the wall. I've done this for over 30 years now and If I can do it, most anyone can do it. I've taught numerous women how to do it so they didn't have to have strangers in their homes and talk about the savings. I charge ten times the cost of materials for labor. do the math...that's about $45.00 per hour.
  • Laura G Laura G on Jun 18, 2012
    I agree with jeanette, Odoban is great! They use it to clean bodily fluids as well. I use it to keep away mold and mildew and its great and leaves a fresh scent. Its about $10 for a gallon at Sam's Club.
  • Karen V Karen V on Jun 19, 2012
    @Laura does it kill the mold or is it just a cover up?If the mold is still there it can cause serious health issues. Check out EPA guidelines for living in mold contaminated dwellings. New Orleans has had a lot of Health related issues due to Mold from Katrina.
  • Vincent Valle Vincent Valle on May 03, 2013
    Offensive odors are made from invisible gases that have vaporized from the source such as dog and cat urine, cooking and smoking odors. These vaporized odors float through the air attaching to the suspended dust particles which act like a sponge absorbing and carrying the odors and toxins throughout the room. One application of, Air-ReNu a paint additive, turns any wall, surface, into a permanent and effective air, purification system, removing all offensive odors and improving indoor air quality.
  • Sho8872787 Sho8872787 on Aug 08, 2016
    I haven't been able to find a specific solution I have if anyone can help. I recently left some chicken on low with a glass lid to cook and forgot to turn it off before I went out for about 3 hours. That was a week ago. When I returned the chicken was disintegrated and the whole apartment smelled horrible so I opened the windows, put on fans, sprayed febreeze, washed the floors etc. but the smell is still strong. We are moving out in 4 weeks so I need to get the smell out before the caretakers come in. I'm going to buy some TSP today to wash the walls but I'm concerned that the smell is embedded in everything we own and will move with us to our new house. Does anyone have any working solutions for the apartment. I will continue to wash clothes and wipe down all our furniture with a vinegar, dawn and water solution as well. The carpets in the apartment will also be cleaned before we leave. Any help at all would be appreciated.