House Smells Like Cigarette Smoke, But We Don’t Smoke

Last Updated on August 9, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas

If your house smells like cigarette smoke but you don’t smoke, it might be due to previous occupants, secondhand smoke infiltration, or lingering odors on furniture and walls. Moreover, your HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system can hang onto cigarette smell and smoke for a long time.

What Is Causing The Cigarette Smell In Your House?

The tobacco smell is quite distinct and unmistakable, which makes it overpowering and uncomfortable for non-smokers. The only thing that would cause tobacco smell is the smoke itself, meaning if your house has that smell, there are reasons. Here’s a list of possible reasons why your house would smell like cigarette smoke:

1. Smokers Previously Occupied Your House

If your new home smells like cigarettes and you are confident that none of you smokes, chances are the previous owner was a smoker. It is more challenging to get rid of the tobacco smell than it is to remove nicotine stains because the smell can be attached to carpeting or soft materials. When there’s cigarette residue on surfaces, the smell keeps slipping out.

2. Poor Air Sealing In Your House

The quality of air sealing in your home will determine how much air or smoke leaks in and out of your home.  When you have poor air sealing, and your neighbor smokes, or you have a smoking zone in your neighborhood, you will smell cigarette smoke in your house. You can use effective air-sealing techniques to keep these odors away from your home.

3. You Bought Second- Hand Stuff From Smokers

When buying second-hand items such as furniture, appliances, or upholstery, it is essential to know a little about the previous owners. If cigarette smoke irritates you so much, it is advisable to stay away from buying second-hand items from smokers.

4. Hanging Out With Smokers In Your Home

If one of your buddies who is a smoker comes over and smokes inside the house, the smell could linger for quite some time. For some smokers, this smell is their signature and its attached to all their clothes and even body. If such a person comes visiting, they will leave traces of this smell on everything they touch.

How To Get Rid Of Cigarette Smoke In Your House

Cigarette smoke odor is a health hazard that can be linked to health complications such as asthma, cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The smell of cigarette smoke can be hard to get rid of, especially on hard surfaces, but it is possible to eradicate it. The best way to get rid of this smell is to clean and ventilate your house. If you are trying to get rid of lingering smell, try this method:

  • Ventilate the house by running fans and keeping windows open
  • Clean walls using trisodium sulfate or any heavy-duty cleaner meant for removing odor before you paint.
  • When painting, use an odor-sealing primer to help musk any remaining odors
  • Remove carpets or have them professionally cleaned to remove any lingering smell
  • Clean tiled floors or surfaces with water mixed with bleach and varnish wooden floors
  • Replace filters in your HVAC system and ensure air ducts are clean and open
  • If the smell is too bad, consider having a professional come and treat the place for you

Getting Rid Of Passive Smoke In Your House

Sometimes, your house smells like cigarette smoke because your neighbor is a smoker or there’s a smoking zone nearby. While it’s almost impossible to ask your neighbor to quit smoking, you can take measures to ensure this smoke doesn’t affect you and the ambiance of your home. Here’s what you can do:

  • Correct bad air sealing- most houses that were built in earlier years have air sealing issues that let odors from outside get into the house. To know if you have bad air sealing, light a scented candle or incense outside when it is not too windy, then go inside the house and try to smell. If you notice scent coming in, note the areas it’s coming in through because they will need fixing.
  • Get professional cleaners to clean your upholstery, furniture, and carpets thoroughly to get rid of the cigarette smoke smell
  • Use dehumidifiers and air purifiers to help remove smoke particles in the air by sucking up dust particles. For purifiers, we recommend choosing one with HEPA filters (high-efficiency particulate air) since they are the most efficient.
  • Clean or replace draperies such as blinds, sheers, and curtains often since they easily absorb unwanted smells from the outside. When washing curtains ensure you clean thoroughly and use fabric softener for a fresher scent.
  • Replace rugs and carpets that have an unpleasant smell. If you bought second-hand rugs that had a cigarette smoke odor and a cleaning doesn’t help, it might be time to ditch that rug. If the previous tenant in your house was a smoker, and the carpet keeps bringing up an odor, remove the carpet for your comfort.
  • Keep your home smelling fresh by using substances that can absorb the smell. You can use baking soda or charcoal placed in small corners of the house. You can also use coffee to keep your home fresh and smelling clean.

Why Do I Keep Smelling Cigarette Smoke When There Is None?

You could be having Olfactory hallucinations or phantasma. This is a medical condition that makes you smell certain odors even when they don’t exist. Most people tend to smell smoke, dirt, burning rubber, or natural gas. This condition is mostly a result of sinuses or respiratory issues and can be treated easily or disappear on its own.

Can I Host Smokers In My House And Not Get Cigarette Smoke Smell?

Yes, you can. So long as they don’t smoke in their house, smokers do not pause much threat of having a smoke smell. Most smokers smell like cigarettes, yet they are clean, thus making it hard for that odor to remain in your home. Ensure you inform them beforehand that you don’t allow smoking in your house to avoid disappointments.

Can You Prevent The Smoke Smell From Getting Into Your House?

The only foolproof way of preventing smoke from getting into your house is ensuring you don’t live near smokers and you don’t smoke. You may not have a choice on the type of neighbors you get, but you can smoke-proof your home. To start with, air sealing your home will go a long way in ensuring smoke from outside doesn’t come into your house. Consult a professional to check the quality of air sealing and make adjustments where necessary. You can keep cigarette smoke away by having a designated outdoor smoking zone that is a distance from the house. In these smoking zones, people can use gadgets such as smoke buddy to neutralize smells.

Does Cigarette Smoke Smell In A House Act As Proof Of Haunting?

If you have superstitious friends, you’ve probably heard about this myth that a haunted house smells like smoke. There’s not enough proof for these claims so avoid spooking yourself.  In most cases, if your house smells like cigarettes, chances are someone is smoking. It could be your roommate or a neighbor or sometimes smoke that is clinging to clothes or furniture.

What Actually Is Third-Hand Smoke?

Third-hand smoke represents the residual nicotine and other harmful substances left on surfaces by tobacco smoke. People are exposed to these harmful substances by touching contaminated surfaces or inhaling the off-gassing from these surfaces. This residue can persist for weeks, months, or even years if not properly removed. 

Hazards of Third-Hand Smoke

The toxicity of third-hand smoke is not to be underestimated, given its potential health risks. It is particularly harmful to children who are more likely than adults to touch contaminated surfaces and then put their hands in their mouths. It might also pose a significant risk to those with respiratory conditions or weakened immune systems.

Ingredients and Effects of Third-Hand Smoke

Third-hand smoke is made up of many compounds, a number of which are harmful or potentially carcinogenic. These contaminants not only stain furnishings but can also bind to dust particles, making them difficult to remove. When third-hand smoke accumulates, it can undergo chemical reactions forming secondary pollutants that are inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin causing various health problems.

How to Prevent Third-Hand Smoke?

Third-hand smoke, the residual nicotine and other chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke is a significant health hazard that is often overlooked. The compounds can interact with everyday pollutants to create harmful compounds for people, particularly children. Here are some steps to take to prevent third-hand smoke exposure:

1. Implement a Strict No-Smoking Policy Indoors

The first step is to ensure that all indoor spaces, including homes, cars, and workplaces, are completely smoke-free. This should be a strict rule with no exceptions.

2. Regular Cleaning

Regular deep cleaning of your home, especially fabric-covered surfaces like furniture and curtains, helps to remove residual smoke particles. Use non-toxic cleaning products to avoid further polluting your environment.

3. Frequent Hand Washing

To minimize the risk presented by third-hand smoke on the hands, frequent hand washing is advised, especially if you’ve been in contact with surfaces in an area where someone has been smoking.

4. Clean or Replace Household Items

Regularly cleaning household items and replacing items that have absorbed a lot of smoke can also help reduce third-hand smoke.

5. Designate Outdoor Smoking Areas

Designate special outdoor areas for smokers. These areas should be far away from windows, doors, and ventilation systems to prevent smoke from entering the home.

6. Avoid Smoke-Filled Environments

Avoidance of environments where smoking is frequently present can cut down on exposure to third-hand smoke.

7. Use Smoke-Free Alternatives

Encourage those you know who smoke to switch to smoke-free alternatives. While these are not completely risk-free, they can significantly lessen the level of nicotine and other harmful chemicals that make up third-hand smoke.

How Do I Get Rid Of Cigarette Smoke Smell In My Car?

If you just bought a car from a smoker, you know how uncomfortable it is to keep smelling smoke. Getting rid of the smell that has accumulated over the years isn’t easy, but we’ve got your back. If simple cleaning doesn’t work, try odor neutralizers such as vinegar, baking soda, and charcoal to absorb the smell. If this still doesn’t work, consult a professional car cleaning company for an ozone odor removal treatment. These procedures are affordable and 100% effective, giving you immense value for money. The process works by releasing ozone which oxidizes unwanted molecules and breaks them down. Your car detailer will use an ozone generator to send UV light to oxygen atoms. This method removes odor permanently, and by the time you are done, your car will be smelling crisp and fresh.

Winding Up

There’s nothing as bad as having to deal with odor whose source you are not aware of. Cigarette smoke smell can compromise the quality of life in your home and cause health complications. It would be best if you worked fast to identify the source of the smoke smell and know how to eradicate it. We hope that this guide is helpful for you as you find the source of the odor and eliminate it. You deserve to live in a fresh and clean home with a calming ambiance.