I bought a house 3 weeks ago, and after moving in, I found there's smoke smell in the house, like tobaccos, especially in the bathroom, although I didn't notice that during the home inspection or the final walk through.

I cleaned the vent, the wall, everything I can think of, but the smoke smell still persists. I even called the fire department, but they couldn't find out the source either.

Could someone give me some suggestions on what I should do now?

  • 1
    Also confirm that there isn't a secret smoker in your household - someone who sneaks into the bathroom to have a smoke, and blows most of the smoke out the window. Oct 4, 2016 at 16:50

5 Answers 5


If it's tobacco smoke from long-term use, it's not easy to eliminate. The stench adheres to every surface, particularly painted walls and carpeted floor. You might need to try all of these:

  • Change furnace filters, and, if possible, clean the furnace ducts (if forced-hot-air heating is used).
  • Wash all walls, ceilings, counter-tops and hard (wood, vinyl, tile) flooring with detergent that is safe for the wall and floor surfaces.
  • Wash carpeting with a commercial carpet cleaner (often called "steam" cleaners, though no steam is actually generated). These can be rented from hardware stores, tool rentals and even some supermarkets.
  • If the house was furnished, clean furniture with a mild cleaner such as Murphy's Oil Soap.
  • If the smell persists, you may need to repaint and/or recarpet.

You might check with an attorney (solicitor) for legal advice... part or all of the cost might be borne by the seller or agent.

  • Minor point - the commercial cleaner you link to is, as you describe, a 'wet' cleaner not a steam cleaner; however, true steam cleaners do exist. I own both [smaller, domestic versions, of course] Link to similar device to mine - polti.co.uk/en/catalog/consumer/1000057
    – Tetsujin
    Oct 4, 2016 at 7:12
  • Thank you for your suggestion, and I have contacted my attorney about this issue. We'll see what they have to say.
    – chaohuang
    Oct 4, 2016 at 15:20

Few things worked... Hope it would work for you as well. I am a non-smoker, but I still couldn't catch it. I suppose the owner has sprayed some room freshener when I visited them...

I moved into a room that was used by a smoker... I didn't feel the smoke when I initially did the inspection.. but as I started to stay - I felt the smoke.. I think you have a similar issue.. on speaking to my mother and sister they suggest me following tips.

  1. Keep all your door and windows open, so that air can flow through.. this will reduce the smoke smell.
  2. When door and windows are closed - like night time - Get vinegar in a big bowl and keep in the middle of the room - whole night, as the smell of vinegar will remove the smoke.
  3. Rub parts of the mirror / closet - and the other parts with baking soda solution ( baking soda dissolved in water). Spray the solution on carpet and tiles and wooden parts- and floors where you feel - the smoke might have settled- this will remove the smoke.
  4. Get some diffuser and essential oils - Eucalyptus in your room and use it in your house.. this will remove the smell and may keep you calm.

Hope this helps.

  • Thank you for your answer, and you are exactly right. The smoke smell was covered by many odor eliminators and air fresheners, where were found in several places in the house, such that it's hard to notice the smoke smell during half an hour period.
    – chaohuang
    Oct 4, 2016 at 15:18

You should try an air purifier, particularly one with an ionizer. I've found that this typically helps a lot. As previously suggested, charcoal works great at trapping smells and absorbing smoke. You can buy charcoal filters and attach or tape them to a fan or to your A/C vent. This will help reduce the smell and trap the smoke into the filter.

  • +1 for the ionizer inclusion. Hi, notyourguru, Welcome to Lifehacks. I hope you enjoy sharing knowledge and experience here. Oh, by the way, you can find out more about our quirky site (and get some rep points for doing it too) by visiting the help center and [?] located at the top of the page.
    – Stan
    Jul 21, 2019 at 16:28
  • I added the warning. ("Warning: Air Ionizers often generate a lot of ozone, which [is hazardous][1]. The ones that generate a lot of ozone are great at eliminating smoke smell permanently. But you want to leave them on only while the area is NOT inhabited."( More info, same site: ww2.arb.ca.gov/our-work/programs/… ) Nov 23, 2020 at 22:46

You could try placing a few bowls of regular, white vinegar around. Although this is typically used to get rid of paint smell, it may work on smoke as well.

Some other things you may try are crushed charcoal, strong air fresheners, or baking soda. Baking soda is often used to absorb refrigerator smells and hence may be a bit more versatile.

Charcoal may be a pretty good avenue to try as well. Because it absorbs and traps smells (it does the same with poisons, when someone is given charcoal as an antidote).

Also, burning a strongly scented candle will likely help, at least for a time.

These two websites are where I got most of my information. Remove paint smell - VisiHow and Get rid of tobacco smell - WikiHow.


Tobacco smoke smell adheres to everything in a home and if there is no clear source of the smell then more widespread measures need to be taken. Baking soda, dried coffee grounds, charcoal are often considered a useful odor absorbent. You can leave bowls of the different materials around a home where the smell is strongest for a few days to absorb odors over time.

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