How to rid your property of cigarette smells

Is there anything worse for a landlord who’s looking to quickly turn around tenants, than discovering  that the last tenant was partial to smoking fags indoors? Don’t worry, there’s no need to panic – by following a few simple steps, you can rid your property of cigarette smells in no time at all. Here’s Rentify’s bulletproof guide to ridding a property of stinky tobacco odours.


Getting the smell out of the air should be your number one priority.  Don’t be tempted to mask the smell with scented candles, percolated coffee or Febreze – it will just makes things worse in the long run. The only way to win the war on stale smoke odour is to plan on total annihilation. Open the windows with a bowl of white vinegar in the room.


Once you’ve got the the air sorted , it’s time to tackle the odour at its source. Carpets are like giant sponges, slurping in cigarette smoke and trapping the stinky particles in their porous fibres. Unfortunately, cleaning a carpet thoroughly either entails getting down on your knees and scrubbing, or using a professional cleaning machine to shampoo the thing. There is a third option, however – Caustic Soda granules. Sprinkle them over the floor, wait for 20 minutes, then hoover them up.


De-tobaccoing your walls will require one of two things, depending on how heavy the previous tenant’s habit was. If they were just an occasional smoker, a quick clean will suffice.  Assuming that the walls are painted and not papered, fill a bowl with mild soapy water and gently sponge down the walls – make sure to wring the sponge out well as you don’t want to soak the wall.

If the previous tenant was an heroic 60-a-day smoker, sorting out the walls will require more than just elbow grease – a good scrub might get rid of most the smell, but the yellowing tentacles of tobacco smoke run deep. It might be best to crack open the paint and blot out the ciggy smell forever. To make sure, finish off with a matte finish polyurethane sealant which will create an effective odour barrier without screwing up the finish of your paint.


Ceilings are almost as bad as carpets when it comes to collecting cigarette odour – after all, smoke does rise. Unlike carpets, however, ceilings don’t even have the benefit of an occasional vacuum. If your ceilings are painted, consider repeating the same steps as for the wall – but really, if you’re going to get on a ladder and scrub the ceiling, you might as well paint the damn thing.


Doors, floors, cupboards and skirting boards; you might think that wooden furnishings don’t absorb much in the way of smell, but you’d be surprised just how much a smoker’s bedside table can reek. There are many home-made concoctions  that can be used for cleaning wood, but the simplest method is to wipe down surfaces with mild soapy water – if you’re worried about staining,  test your solution on a small patch first. Leave the wood to dry, then clean up any residue with a citrus-based wood cleaner.


There’s a lot of mumbo-jumbo curtain cleaning advice swilling around the internet, with countless sites recommending you soak your drapes in a bathtub of hot water and vinegar. Rentify have looked into the science of this and while yes, vinegar is a good cleaner and neutraliser, it is also a natural bleach.

It’s probably best to take them down to the launderette and let the dry-cleaner take care of them.


OK, this might sound a bit homoeopathic, but a few leafy green plants can do wonders to your stinky house. Rentify recommends Peace Lilies, Bamboo Palm, Golden Pothos and Philodendrons.