If you entertained a guest who smokes indoors, had a wildfire close by your house, or burned wood in your fireplace one long, cold evening, you may be looking to remove smoke smells from your house fast and efficiently. To get rid of smoke smells quickly, start by opening all of your windows in order to let fresh air blow in, then switch on any rotating fans in your home to increase circulation, advises Fiona B., an experienced cleaning professional at TaskRabbit.
Depending on the cause of the smoke smell (and the location in the house) you may have to use certain odor removal methods, ranging from essential oils to diluted ammonia. Cue these expert tips to remove smoke smells from your house, whether you're dealing with cigarette smoke, wildfire smoke, or smoke from a fireplace.
How to wash walls to get rid of smoke smell
Although many homeowners swear by using an ammonia mixture to remove smoke smells, there are natural alternatives to harsh chemicals that you can try first. According to Fiona, "A less harsh but also effective method is to mix a good Castile soap with water and essential oils of your choice, and then scrub the walls with a microfiber cloth."
Tip: You can also make a mixture using ½ cup baking soda, ¼ cup white vinegar, and hot water. This will also help remove any stains on the walls that may be contributing to bad odors. Follow these steps to clean the walls, including making sure the sponge or cloth you're using is just barely damp, not soaking wet, to reduce drips on the wall.
How to remove smoke smells from upholstery
Baking soda is the perfect deodorizer, since it's odorless, yet it absorbs odors. "Another method is to sprinkle baking soda on furniture and floors for a couple of days and then vacuum it up," says Fiona. "For added freshness, feel free to add a few drops of an essential oil (or oils) of your choice to the baking soda." Before you sprinkle it on any surfaces, just make sure the essential oils are fully mixed in to prevent oil stains on your upholstery.
Tip: Give your upholstered furniture a deep clean by removing all covers and sprinkling baking soda on them before throwing them in the wash with laundry detergent. Depending on how severe the smoke smells are, you may need to wash them more than once.
How to remove smoke smells from carpet and rugs
"Using carpet deodorizer, liquid or powder carpet cleaner, and baking soda with essential oils of your choice are all great ways to lift smoke smells from carpets," says Fiona. If you're using carpet cleaner, follow the instructions as directed on the product container. If you use baking soda, sprinkle it on the carpet and let it sit for up to a couple of days before vacuuming it up.
Tip: If you're open to a pricier option, steam-clean your carpets in addition to any of the methods mentioned above. Getting your carpets professionally steam-cleaned is an effective option if you do not own a carpet cleaner.
How to air out rooms to remove smoke smell
Airing out rooms is an effective way to eliminate less intense smoke smells. However, Fiona recommends having one or more (the more, the better) rotating fans on with the windows open to give you better results than just leaving the windows open.
Tip: An extra measure you can take for better results is to invest in an air purifier, which will also improve overall air quality in your home. If you live in an area that is regularly affected by wildfire smoke, this could be especially valuable, as repeated smoke inhalation poses a serious health risk. If you have an air purifier, remember to replace the air filters frequently, as they may be harboring smoke particles. Also replace the air filters of your HVAC system if your house has one, and don't forget to clean the air vents.
Key products you need in your smoke-removing arsenal
"Some key products I keep in my arsenal are carpet deodorizer and liquid or powder carpet cleaner, which do a great job of making carpets smell fresh and clean again," says Fiona. Baking soda is also a must, she says. It can be mixed with essential oils or distilled white vinegar.
Tip: Vinegar cuts through odors naturally and can also be mixed with essential oils, making it another great tool when it comes to smoke removal. Ammonia is also a powerful odor eliminator, but just make sure you're being careful when using it. Always dilute ammonia with water and never mix ammonia with other cleaners or chemicals, especially bleach, as this combination creates a deadly gas. Ammonia is a powerful chemical agent that can be quite toxic, so if you're unsure how to use it safely, consult a professional.