Thirdhand Smoke

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Thirdhand Smoke

I am sure everyone knows the facts about how smoking and secondhand smoke are horrible for your health. But have you heard of thirdhand smoke? Thirdhand smoke is residual nicotine and other chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke. People are exposed to these chemicals by touching contaminated surfaces or breathing in the off-gassing from these surfaces. This residue is thought to react with common indoor pollutants to create a toxic mix including cancer-causing compounds, posing a potential health hazard to nonsmokers, especially children. Not only are smoking, secondhand, and thirdhand smoke harmful, but they smell terrible, as well as being hard to clean off of your things.  

If you aren’t a smoker, there is nothing worse than moving into a home that had smokers in it. The smell is so harsh and unpleasant, not to mention unhealthy! It can also linger for what seems like forever. If the previous owner smoked in the house frequently, it would take longer to smell your home. The smoke smell could linger in the walls, ceilings, and curtains, if any were left behind. If the thought of throwing things away doesn’t sit right with you, then these cleaning tips can help. Here are some tips that can help you get your home smelling fresh again. P.S. stock up on white vinegar!

Tip #1- Throw Away any Items Left by the Previous Owner

If they left curtains or anything porous or fabric and can hold an odor, get rid of it. By doing this, you will have a better chance of getting rid of the cigarette smell faster. Otherwise, be prepared to do a lot of washing and cleaning as these items will need a ton of TLC to get that stink out. It seems wasteful, but it will save you a lot of time and stress to throw things out and start new. 

Tip #2- Open all the WindowsCleaning for Military Families in and near JBAB, JBA, Fort Myers-Henderson Hall, Fort Belvior, McNair, Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda, Potomac, Chevy Chase, Georgetown, Palisades, Kalorama, NW DC

By opening all the windows, you are letting fresh air circulate more freely in your home. Ventilation is also vital if you will be using harsh chemicals to clean. You don’t want to overexpose yourself by breathing in many cleaning chemicals. If you have access to ventilators, this can help speed up the process by pushing air across the room and out a window.

Tip #3- Clean all Hard Surfaces

A 50/50 solution of hot water and vinegar in a spray bottle will be your best friend for getting rid of cigarette odor in your home. Spray that mixture liberally on all hard surfaces, i.e., countertops, appliances, decorations, fan blades, light fixtures, and picture frames. Anything that is hard and can hold a smell. You can also use the same mixture for the floors by putting the mixture into your mop bucket and scrubbing away.

Tip #4- Use the Harder Hitting Chemicals on Ceilings and Walls

A tried and tested method to eliminate cigarette smoke smell in house ceilings and walls is to use ammonia. Make a mixture of .5 cups ammonia, .5 cups of baking soda, .25 cups white vinegar, and a gallon of hot water. Use an extension pole or ladder to reach high spots safely to wipe away any yellow stains. It won’t smell good but it will help get the ceilings and walls clean again. If you want your home to smell better after doing this you can go back and wipe your walls down with a rag dampened with vanilla or lavender essential oils. 

Tip #5- Clean Carpets and Fabric Surfaces

Baking soda is a handy household cleaner as it can neutralize odor molecules. Sprinkle it on carpets and fabric surfaces and leave it for a few days. Then vacuum, and if needed, steam-clean your carpet. I have tried this myself, and it does wonders for nasty smells. You can also put it in the fridge, and it helps keep food odors at bay!

Tip #6- Wash Laundry Safe Fabrics

Toss any washer-safe cushion covers, curtains, pillow covers, sofa covers, and linens into the washing machine. Do one wash cycle with .5 cups of white vinegar and then a second cycle with your usual detergent. Let them air dry outside until the house is clean.

Tip #7- Replace Air Filters

By replacing your home’s air filters regularly, you will have a happier and healthier place to live. A dirty air filter, especially one full of toxins from smoking, can’t properly filter the air in your home to make it safe to breathe. You can also rent an air purifier to help get the toxins and smell out of your home faster. Another choice is to buy an ozone generator to eliminate the smoke and toxin molecules, but this could be a costly choice to rid your home of the cigarette stench.  

Products and Tools Needed to Get Rid of Cigarette Smoke Smell:

  • Spray bottle: Keep a spray bottle handy that you can fill with any homemade mixtures and apply them to hard surfaces safely.
  • White vinegar: You might already have white vinegar in your pantry, or you can buy it from the supermarket. You can use white vinegar to make basic cleaning solutions that work on many surfaces.
  • Ammonia: You can buy ammonia from a hardware store. Please note that ammonia is very toxic, so it is advisable to use gloves when using this product.
  • Baking soda: You might find baking soda in your baking supplies at home. Or buy it from a supermarket. It’s great for making simple cleaning pastes and soaking up odors.
  • Steam cleaner: For deeply soiled or odorous carpets and other appropriate surfaces, buy or rent a steam cleaner.
  • Air filter: Buy a new air filter to replace the existing one harboring smoke molecules.
  • Air purifier: If you want to improve overall air quality, buy or rent an air purifier with a HEPA filter.
  • Ozone generator: Buy an ozone generator to get rid of the smoke molecules completely.

If that list gives you anxiety or totally stresses you out, no problem! Soldiers’ Mom is a call away to help you with your cleaning needs. Just call (833) 487-2532 and we will be more than happy to get you booked for one of our services.


Cleaning for Military Families in and near JBAB, JBA, Fort Myers-Henderson Hall, Fort Belvior, McNair, Arlington, Alexandria, Bethesda, Potomac, Chevy Chase, Georgetown, Palisades, Kalorama, NW DC


(833) 487-2532