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How to Remove Cigarette Smoke

  • July 02, 2020
  • Written by: TruSens

Cigarettes in an ash tray.

The distinctive smell of cigarette smoke seemingly overstays its welcome, lingering in the air, furniture or on our body long after exposure. For some, the smell may not be problematic, but the complex mixture of chemicals a cigarette is made up of sure is. Components of a cigarette include carbon monoxide (CO), formaldehyde, volatile chemicals and nicotine, to name a few. Between the odor and the chemical components, it’s clear why we want to rid ourselves of these from ourselves and surroundings.

The process of removing cigarette smoke may demand patience. The removal process may depend on the severity of contamination. If you smoke or live with a smoker, you’ve probably become used to the smell and don’t realize how strong it is. 

Can Cigarette Smoke Effect Non-Smokers?

Yes, non-smokers can be effected by cigarette smoke. There are varying levels of cigarette smoke exposure. The type of exposure will determine the effects the smoke will have on an individual. The types of cigarette smoke exposure are commonly known as secondhand and thirdhand smoke.

Secondhand Smoke

Secondhand smoke is the combination of smoke from the burning cigarette and the smoke breathed out by the smoker(s). Once of the simplest ways to reduce your exposure to secondhand smoke is to distance yourself from any smokers. Other helpful tips include not allowing anyone to smoke in or near your home and car, and to avoid public locations that allow smoking.

Thirdhand Smoke

Thirdhand smoke is the residual chemicals that have been absorbed or left on surfaces and objects. This smoke results in the odors that we smell on clothes, furniture, walls, and carpets long after smoking has ended.

How Cigarette Smoke Absorbs

Cigarette smoke can enter the body in several ways, including the most obvious through smoking it into your lungs. The cigarette smoke’s odor absorbs into your skin and hair. The smoke will also leave a carcinogenic residue on everything it touches, including hair and skin again.

Even if you don’t clearly see it, cigarette smoke coats the inside of your mouth, gums, teeth, and tongue. Because of this, those who smoke tend to have bad breath or taste in their mouths.

Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Cigarette Smoke

Smoke odor is resilient and will penetrate just about anything, including your walls, furniture, curtains, and clothes. Don’t let the stale odor of cigarette smoke take over you and your indoor air quality. Keep yourself and your surroundings clean and fresh-smelling. Below, you will find tips on how to get rid of cigarette smell and residue from your skin, your clothes, your home, and your breathing environment in general. 

Eliminating Cigarette Smoke from Your Skin

Cigarette smoke not only leaves an odor on your skin, but may absorb through the skin, entering your bloodstream. To remove any odors or residue, wash your hands with warm water and a mixture of baking soda and soap. Make sure you do not skip on the skin under your nails and between your fingers, especially if you are a smoker. It is not recommended to use baking soda or soap for the skin on your face. Instead, use a facial cleanser or any other face-specific skincare products in order to remove dirt from your face.

Another way to remove or reduce buildup of cigarette smoke odor and residue is to bathe regularly. Bathing or showering regularly using soap and hair wash help to wash away leftover cigarette smoke on your skin. Bathing is highly recommended before going to sleep and spreading odor or residue to your bed.

If you are in a public location without access a proper restroom or hand soap, you can opt for an alcohol based hand sanitizer.

Eliminating Cigarette Smoke from Your Hair

Hair tends to be very absorbent. Just as your hair soaks up chlorine in a pool or smoke from a bonfire, it also absorbs the smells of cigarette smoke. Not only does it absorb the odor, but the chemicals from the cigarette. As we mentioned with eliminating cigarette smoke from your skin, bathing regularly helps to remove odor and residue from cigarette smoke. Any hair, including beards and mustaches should be thoroughly washed with shampoo and conditioner.  If the cigarette odor still prevails, rinse and repeat.

Eliminating Cigarette Smoke from Your Breath

In regards to effects that arise in the mouth from cigarette smoke, non-smokers generally do not need to worry. Since smokers burn, inhale and exhale the cigarette smoke directly in their mouth, this tends to be the biggest problem area other than the lungs.  Regularly brushing your teeth, flossing and mouthwash will help to reduce any odor from the mouth or staining of the teeth. Temporary fixes are also available to mask the odor in the form of breath mints or strips, and gum.

Reducing or Eliminating Cigarette Odor from Clothing

The most effective way to ridding yourself of cigarette smoke odor from clothing is to wash it. However, it may be more effective to wash with both detergent and baking soda. If the odor is not eliminated during the first wash, soak and rinse as many times as needed.

There are also ways to mask the odor on clothes by using dryer sheets, or air fresheners made for fabrics. Rub the dryer sheet or spray air freshener on each garment of clothing including hats, scarves, gloves and shoes.

Eliminating Cigarette Odor from your home

Removing the thirdhand smoke from your home can be a tedious task. The first step is ensuring proper ventilation of your home. There are both mechanical and natural ways to ventilate. Natural ventilation occurs through opening windows and doors. Mechanical ventilation is done through HVAC systems or air purifiers. When choosing an air purifier, find one that contains activated carbon, as the carbon is most effective in removing odor from the air.

Both vinegar and baking soda are natural odor-absorbers. Use vinegar to wipe down any furniture, washable walls, floors, counters, and more. Vinegar can also be poured in a bowl, leaving it in a room for several days to absorb the odors in the room. If the smell of vinegar is too strong, consider mixing in essential oils with the vinegar.

Sprinkle baking soda over furniture, floors and more to absorb odor. Like vinegar, bowls of baking soda may also be left around for several days. This method may be preferred due to the lack of vinegar smell left lingering in after.

Wash all linens and fabric items in your home, including curtains, pillow covers, sofa covers, and so on. Clean wall hangings made of wool, canvas, or other textiles. Carefully wipe them down with mild soap and water. Leave no surface or items untouched: clean everything the smoke came in contact with. Any carpeting can be ripped up and replaced. If you or anyone else living in the home plans on continuing to smoke, other types of less absorbent flooring may be ideal.


There are many ways to remove cigarette smoke from the air, body or home. However, the best method to ridding your life of cigarette smoke is avoidance. If you are a non-smoker, avoid situations where you may be exposed to secondhand or thirdhand smoke. If you are a smoker, reduction of smoking or quitting smoking is the most effective way to rid odor and health causes from cigarette smoke.