How To Get Smoke Smell Out of a House Quickly

Learn what absorbs cigarette smoke and wildfire smoke odors and how to get smoke smell out of a house or car.

Smoke odor is persistent, whether it's from wildfires or cigarette smoke. Annoyingly, the smell can linger for weeks or even months if not properly dealt with. Luckily, there are several effective methods to get smoke out of your house and get your space smelling fresh again. 

In this article, we show you how to get smoke smell out of a house quickly and easily, using the best methods used by the pros. As a bonus, we also show you how to get smoke smell out of a car. 

What you’ll need

  • White vinegar, activated charcoal, or baking soda
  • Mild soap
  • Warm water
  • Large bowls
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Cleaning clothes


How to get smoke smell out of a house

To get smoke smell out of a house, clean all surfaces and fabrics with warm soapy water, then place a bowl of vinegar in each room for several hours. Add essential oils to the vinegar for a more pleasant scent. Keep windows open or use an air purifier to circulate fresh air. Dispose of the vinegar and repeat if needed. 

Method 1: White vinegar

To get smoke smell out of a house using the vinegar method we outlined above, follow these detailed steps. In a minute, we’ll also show you two other tried-and-true methods. 

First, clean all surfaces

Wipe down all hard surfaces, such as walls, ceilings, floors, and countertops, with a mixture of warm water and mild soap. Then wash all curtains and drapes, bedding, comforters, and linens in the washing machine. Next, clean all upholstery and carpets with a steam cleaner.

Smoke particles can linger on surfaces and fabrics in your home long after the source of the smoke has been removed, causing the smoke smell to persist and making it more difficult to eliminate the odor completely. By cleaning all surfaces and fabrics, you'll be able to remove the majority of the smoke particles.

Next, fill large bowls halfway with white vinegar

Once you have cleaned all surfaces and fabrics, the next step is to fill bowls with white vinegar. You can use any size bowls you have, but larger bowls are better for larger rooms. Pour enough vinegar to fill the bowls about halfway. 

It’s preferable to use white vinegar because it does a better job of neutralizing the smoke smell in your home.

Then, place the bowls around the house

Place the bowls with the white vinegar around the house. Put them in the rooms where the smoke smell is strongest. You can also put them near the source of the smoke, such as near an ashtray or fireplace.

Let the vinegar for at least several hours, preferably overnight. The longer it sits, the more effective it will be at absorbing the smoke smell. You can even leave the bowls out for a couple of days if the smell is very strong.

Lastly, discard the vinegar and repeat if necessary

After the vinegar has done its job, toss it out and replace it with fresh vinegar if necessary. Keep repeating the process until the smoke smell is gone for good.

Method 2: Activated charcoal

Activated charcoal is another way to get smoke smell out of a house quickly. Follow these steps. 

If you don’t have activated charcoal on hand, you can find it at health food stores, pet stores, or online. Just make sure you buy the pure kind of activated charcoal and not the one used for grilling burgers.

  • Clean all surfaces: To remove residual smoke particles, clean all surfaces and fabrics in the house.
  • Put charcoal in containers: Put the activated charcoal in bowls or make little sachets out of fabric or tea bags. 
  • Place around the house: Put the bowls or sachets near the source of the smoke or where the smell is strongest. 
  • Let sit for a few days: The longer you leave it out, the better it absorbs the smoke smell. 
  • Leave longer for stubborn smells: If the smoke smell is really stubborn, you can leave it out for a few weeks. 
  • Repeat as needed: Keep repeating this process until the smoke smell is completely gone.

Method 3: Baking soda 

Baking soda is a workhorse when it comes to removing odors. Baking soda works by neutralizing the pH level of the smoke particles and absorbing the smoke smell.

Here’s how to use it to remove smoke smells from your house.

  • Clean surfaces: Start by cleaning all surfaces and fabrics in the house.
  • Sprinkle baking soda: Sprinkle baking soda on all surfaces and fabrics in the house, covering them evenly. 
  • Let sit: Let the baking soda sit for a few hours or overnight.
  • Vacuum up baking soda: After the baking soda has had time to work its magic, vacuum it up from all surfaces and fabrics. 
  • Use a crevice tool if needed: Make sure to use the crevice tool on your vacuum cleaner to get into all the nooks and crannies.
  • Repeat until smell is gone: Repeat sprinkling the baking soda as necessary until the smoke smell is completely gone.

How do you get smoke smell out of a car?

To get smoke smell out of a car, air it out well and then use one of these methods: 

  • Place sachets of activated charcoal or a bowl of ground coffee beans in car
  • Sprinkle baking soda on all surfaces and vacuum it up
  • Place a bowl with white vinegar in the car
  • Use an ozone machine or air purifier
  • Use an enzyme cleaner

How do you get cigarette smoke out of a house fast?

To get cigarette smoke out of a house fast, first clean all surfaces to remove smoke particles. Then, open windows and doors and use air purifiers or odor eliminators like activated charcoal or vinegar. Try a combination of these methods for the best results.

How long does it take for the smell of smoke to go away in a house?

The time it takes for the smoke smell to go away depends on how severe the smell is and the method you use to get rid of the odor. It can take several days or weeks. Patience and using a variety of cleaning methods can help speed up the process. A pro tip is to start cleaning as soon as possible.

What absorbs cigarette smoke smell?

These substances all work well to absorb cigarette smoke:

  • Activated charcoal
  • Baking soda
  • White vinegar
  • Coffee grounds
  • Air purifiers
  • Odor-absorbing gels or beads
  • Essential oils like lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus

Don't let smoke odor linger in your home or car

Smoke leaves a stubborn and unpleasant odor that can be challenging to remove. However, by using the methods we explained in this article, you can successfully get the smoke smell out of your house or car.

Keep in mind that the time it takes to remove the smell can vary depending on the severity of the damage and the methods used.

Need help keeping on top of your other house cleaning tasks? 

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