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How to Get Rid of Smoke Smell in an Apartment Before Moving Out

Apr 6, 2022

When moving out, lingering cigarette smoke smell can cause you to lose some of your security deposit — or worse, your entire check. A common mistake is to spray excessive amounts of air freshener in an attempt to get rid of cigarette odor. However, that method will only mask it for a short period of time. Learn how to fully get rid of cigarette smell in an apartment before moving out.

Why Eliminate Cigarette Smell in Apartment Before Moving Out?

Your landlord can keep your security deposit as a result of cigarette odor lingering in your apartment upon moving out.

Smoke can damage your apartment’s carpet, walls, and ceilings. This damage may cause the walls and ceilings to need to be repainted and cleaned with special equipment and chemicals. Additionally, the carpets, drapes, and blinds will need to be deep cleaned or even replaced.

According to Tenants Together, “smokers cost apartment owners an average of $4,935 to clean up after them.” In many cases, this accounts for an entire security deposit — or more.

Other than potentially losing your security deposit check, cigarette smell lingering around your apartment can be dangerous. Even if you are not physically in the room with a smoker, the scent and toxins of cigarettes can linger for days or even weeks. The toxins that stay on surfaces and are absorbed into objects are known as thirdhand smoke.

This means that if you don’t eliminate thirdhand smoke odor, you won’t only lose money, but you may also put the health of the next tenants at risk. To eliminate thirdhand smoke odor, follow our seven easy steps on getting rid of smoke smell in your apartment.

Get Rid of Smoke Smell in Apartment: 7 Easy Steps

Lit cigarettes release smoke molecules covered with tar and oils. These tiny particles can land on and stick to surfaces like furniture, carpets, windows, and curtains. This means that in order to eliminate the smoke smell in your apartment, you have to thoroughly clean these areas. Learn how to do so below.

1. Air Out Your Rental

Before you begin cleaning, you need to open all of the windows, doors, blinds, and/or curtains. This will let the sunshine in that can help kill germs and bacteria.

Most importantly, you need cross-breeze by using fans on opposite sides of your rental — one facing out and one facing in. This will improve the air circulation throughout your apartment by pushing out stale air and drawing in fresh air. To help out the process, turn on any ceiling fans you may have.

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2. Deodorize the Air

Though air fresheners are only a quick fix, they can help you lessen some of the smoke molecules lingering in the air.

Den Garden explains that you can “place small containers or open boxes of baking soda in problem areas to soak up the odor.” To further combat the odor, you can also boil lemon or orange peel to add an extra fresh scent.

3. Clean Windows, Ceilings, and Walls

Once you have freshened up the air, it’s time to clean the windows, ceilings, and walls.

For windows, wipe down all corners, sills, and curtain rods. Cigarette remains and scents can be easily trapped in these areas whenever a breeze draws them outside.

To clean ceilings and walls, Pendo suggests mixing a cup of white vinegar, two cups of warm water, and ½ cup of baking soda. “Dip a sponge in the mix and start wiping down the ceilings and the walls.”

4. Cleaning Counters and Cabinets

Cigarette smell can settle on counters, as well as the interior and exterior of cabinets. To best get cigarette smoke out of your apartment, wipe down all cabinets and counters with a cleaning solution. Then, leave cabinets open to air out and dry.

If there’s smoke odor left after cleaning both areas, Hyper Lychee recommends placing old tea bags in a container and setting the container in a corner of your cabinet. Keep it there overnight, or even for a few days, and this hack will absorb the tough cigarette odor smell that still lingers inside of your cabinets.

5. Clean the Carpet

Cigarette odor can penetrate carpets. To get rid of it, SFGate suggests sprinkling baking soda over your carpets and leaving it for a few hours before vacuuming.

If the odor persists, unfortunately, you may need to hire a professional carpet cleaner or replace the carpet altogether.

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6. Clean Hard Floors

To eliminate cigarette smoke smell on hard floors, mopping is just the right method to do so. But first, you have to consider what type of floor you have to avoid damaging it.

If your floor is made out of tiles, vinyl, or linoleum, make a cleaning solution with a mixture of vinegar and water. Then mop the floor to neutralize the odor.

Vinegar is damaging to hardwood floors, so to best combat remaining cigarette particles, start by vacuuming the wood floors and then mop with lukewarm water.

7. Clean HVAC Air Filters and Air Ducts

Cigarette toxins can get stuck in your air system, releasing odors throughout your unit.

To get rid of the smoke smell, start by opening the grill and removing the air filter and ducts. Use any soap and lukewarm water to gently clean the filter, then set it aside to dry. In some cases, you may need to replace the filters if there are tough residues.

To ensure a smoke-free apartment, hiring a professional to clean your air ducts can be a major help.

What Can Landlords Do to Get Smoke Smell Out of an Apartment?

As a landlord, you can get rid of smoke odors in an apartment in multiple ways.

First, if the tenants signed a lease that states that smoking is not allowed indoors, you may be able to keep their security deposit to cover the cost of professional cleaning and any repairs that need to be made. No landlord likes to spend more money than necessary, but having your apartment professionally cleaned can be worthwhile.

In some cases, it might be best to discard and replace carpets, countertops, paint, and other areas that have trapped cigarette odors to best prepare the apartment for the next tenants.

Keep in mind that the best way to get rid of smoke smells as a landlord is to prevent them in the first place. Consider adding extra signage around the apartment complex to remind tenants not to smoke indoors. Clear communication can go a long way. Otherwise, by following the easy steps mentioned above, you can get the cigarette smell out of your apartment one step at a time.

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Smoke-Proof Your Apartment to Move Out With Ease

Landlords are all-too-familiar with cigarette smoke smell, so before you move out, it is best to follow our seven easy steps to learn how to get rid of any smoke and cigarette particles lingering throughout your unit. This will save you trouble and money before you move to your new home.

All steps mentioned above are effective, but as they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

To help you move out with ease, hire a professional move-out cleaning service.


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Article written by Mia Sofia Pimentel

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