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Removing Cigarette Smell from House

Q: I'm just beginning to move into my house. An older woman had lived there, and she smoked....ALOT! (she's been in a nursing home for 6 mnths or so). They were painting when I looked at the house. So, each time I looked at it, I didn't notice the smoke. Now that I'm moving in...Whew! I smell like it when I come back to my apartment to pick up some more boxes. Also, all of the carpeting has been removed, since I first looked at the house. There aren't any window coverings either. So, what is holding in the smoke? Is it the duct work? Should I get that cleaned? When I get in the shower, I notice that if there's moisture on the walls, the droplets are brown. Now, this bathroom was painted about a month ago, and I've scrubbed the walls a couple of times already! It just keeps coming through....it's awful! What can I do to the walls to get rid of the smell and the yellow/brown "crap" that keeps coming back???? If this is what cigarette smoke does to walls, imagine what it's doing to people's lungs? HELP!!!...Donna


Tip #1: Boxes of baking soda around the house may help. Or, charcoal, the kind that is sold for fish tanks (I think) is supposed to absorb the odor.

Tip #2: Wait until you go away for a few days and leave a few cups of bleach around. Your house will smell of the bleach for awhile but it will kill the smoke smell.

Tip #3: Use this solution to wash all painted walls and ceiling: 1 gallon warm water, 1/2 cup plain ammonia, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup washing soda (found in laundry additives area of market).

Tip #4: After weeks of washing with different solutions. I went out an purchased Kilz primer/sealer at Walmart. On Sunday, I put it on the ceiling and walls, and now the walls don't sweat yellowish/brown anymore. As soon as the bathroom would steam up from a shower, the walls would just drip that awful stuff! Yuk! If you accidentally splashed the walls with some water, it would just bleed yellow/brown cigarette stain. Today, I splashed the walls and the water didn't turn color. I'm going to wait a week until I paint the walls.

Tip #5: Well now...just adding to the list of suggestions. I am a "former" smoker (light to moderate). I had the same "yellowing" problem. Then, to help eliminate the ODOR...I stumbled across two products from the brand name WIZARD...one is a spray can and is labeled as TOBACCO ODOR NEUTRALIZER. The second product is also a tobacco odor neutralizer but is an oil that is heated by their little "plug it in the wall" device. I had mine tied to a timer that would turn on for an hour in the mid morning, and again for another hour around dinner time. Now, "I" could not tell the difference. But the non smokers sure could tell the difference. And, if "I" went outdoors to do some yard work or something else...I could come back inside and smell the smoke odor if I did not use the Wizard products. This is not a plug for Wizard. Just what "I" found to be quite effective.

Tip #6: I hope you've already remedied your problem, but here's something for future reference...sit bowls of plain white vinegar around. It will get rid of the smell. Also, cleaning walls with vinegar also takes the smell out and most of the time takes care of the yellow staining too. If you have children or pets, soak cotton balls with vinegar, put them in a jar with a metal lid and punch holes in the lid. Sit these throughout the house and it will absorb the smell.

Tip #7: The thing with smoke is...it is NOT only in your carpet, but it is in your walls, your light fixtures, your air conditioners, and furnace systems. How do I know this?? I am an ex smoker. THE BEST thing to do is get a few bowls, put some ammonia in them, and place them around the home, up above where any animals or children can get them. This absorbs the external smell. To clean the walls...the person that mentioned the soda and vinegar is good. NOW for the furnace and air conditioner systems. CHANGE all filters and clean with vinegar.

Tip #8: Kilz takes care of any odors, but you must wear a mask. Also some contractors use a can of something called Smoke Out, not sure of the exact name, but it is used for homes that have been burned to get the smell out. I'm sure a building supply store would know what it is. I was a heavy smoker for 40 years but haven't smoked for 2 years and smoke odors really bother me now, but Kilz got rid of it in our home.

Tip #9: If you own the place, and it was there when you moved in and you painted over it the only thing is repaint with "Kilz" can be found at a hardware store in paint supply. Otherwise wash walls with hot water, dish detergent, baking soda, and vinegar. Stir. I use a 5 gallon bucket and mix everything in that. You can also add Lysol Disinfectant cleaner. This is the stuff in the reddish brown bottle. Found at the grocer. And it smells like disinfectant not perfume. This will take the smell out of anything, including laundry. Follow manufacturer's directions. The other thing I'd like to mention if the walls have "spots" approx. 1 foot apart, and they go down the wall. These are actually nails that are showing through. The only way to hide them is with "Kilz" these will show through the walls if you burn alot of candles, and smoke. And the nails are actually showing through because they didn't use a primer prior to painting. "Kilz" will also cover water marks on ceilings, and mold on shower walls. Make sure before you paint anything that it is scrubbed well, and rinsed.




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Rachel Paxton
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