Cigarette Smell: How to Remove from Home

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Spud in Texas needs some help with a cleaning project. What can we do for you?

    SPUD: I have like a little guest house that I had been renting out to people who smoked big-time.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) OK. Alright.

    SPUD: And it’s just awful. It’s not a real large place but I – it’s got a carpet in it that’s ruined, of course, and the walls, you know, are just reeking. I’d like to find out what I can do to eliminate all that smoke and …

    TOM: Well, first of all, you mentioned that the carpets are ruined. Are they physically ruined or is it just the smell?

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Or just smelly?

    SPUD: Oh, no. We’re going to get rid of them anyway.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Alright. Well, that’s a good start.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Alright. That’ll make a big difference.

    TOM: Yeah. So pull out those carpets and then what I’m going to suggest you do is …

    LESLIE: And the padding.

    TOM: Yeah. Padding too, of course. And what I’m going to suggest you do is, first, I want you to clean all of the walls with TSP, trisodium phosphate.

    LESLIE: Yeah. Before the carpet is out. Use that as the drop cloth.

    TOM: It’s a great drop cloth.

    SPUD: Yeah.

    TOM: So clean all the walls. Get rid of all of that stuff and then after the walls are cleaned, then you’re going to need to prime all of the surfaces. And I want you to use a good-quality, oil-based primer, like a good oil primer from Behr or from KILZ; not water-based because the oil-based does a much better job of sealing in whatever is on that surface, including the smoke odor that’s probably saturated into the drywall at this point. If you do those two things, you will find that the smell is going to go a long way towards being totally eliminated.

    Did you rent this place with furniture or is it empty of furniture?

    SPUD: It’s empty.

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) OK.

    TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, that’s good because if the furniture was saturated, you’d have an issue there as well. But getting rid of the carpet and repainting the walls with a good-quality primer after they’re clean will do a trick.

    LESLIE: Hey, Tom. Once he gets the carpet and the padding out, is there any reason – or would the smoke sort of saturate through the carpeting and the padding to the subfloor? Do you want to throw paint there, too, or no?

    TOM: It’s also a possibility and along the goal of while-you’re-at-it, it doesn’t hurt to also put a coat of primer on that floor. You don’t have to be particularly pretty or neat about it but in the unlikely event that there is an odor on the floor, that will help. Very often, that will also be addressed – address also any type of pet odors that are in the floor at the same time. So, probably not a bad idea to prime that subfloor as well before you put the new carpet down.

    SPUD: OK.

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