remove smoke smell from carpet

Will carpet cleaning remove smoke smell?

Of all the foul fumes that one can have in their home, cigarette smoke seems to be the power villain; its smell lingers long after the offender has been snuffed.  And carpets (and upholstered furniture), with their vast square footage and multiple porous fibers, are the perfect accomplice, harboring the stale stench for months to come.

If you have wall-to-wall carpet, having it professional cleaned can get rid of smoke smell. While there are some DIY cleaning practices that can help (see below), expert cleaners have special detergents that are specifically formulated to eliminate smoke smell.

If the smoky odor is from another source, such as a fire, professional cleaning technicians have various cleaning strategies, depending on whether the fire emitted wet or dry smoke, protein or fuel particles, or if there is fire extinguisher residue or other fire damage.

Do it yourself smoke smell elimination

If the trapped smoke is mild or the surface area is small, try sprinkling baking soda over the carpet and letting it sit for at least 30 minutes. If the odor remains after you vacuum, spritz the carpet with a light mist of two parts water to one part vinegar, and turn on a fan to speed up the drying time. You may need to repeat the entire process. Other professionals suggest mixing a cup of dried lavender into the baking soda, and sprinkling it over every inch of the carpet before bed, so that it has a full eight hours to soak up the odor before vacuuming.

Other smoke be-gone tricks include:

  • Air it Out: Keep your windows open as long as possible while you clean, and let fresh air and sunshine in! Turn on fans to help recirculate the air. If possible, keep the windows open an inch or two overnight to help cleanse the room.
  • Think soft: Because of their porous fabric fibers, window coverings, blankets and upholstery are great at retaining smells. Air out drapes, curtains and bedding materials outside, machine wash or take to a dry cleaner. Get your upholstery professionally cleaned.
  • Clean UP: Because smoke rises, some of the odor may be trapped in your ceiling. Wipe down a smooth ceiling with a soft cloth soaked/wrung out in one part vinegar to two parts water. For popcorn ceilings, mist with the same mixture instead of wiping down.
  • Take to the blinds: Dip a soft cloth in vinegar and wipe down walls, and wood and vinyl blinds. Make sure you wring out most of the liquid and wash from top to bottom, rinsing your cloth frequently. And while your windows might temporarily smell like a salad, the smell will go away, and take the smoke smell with it.
  • Change your filters: Change your HVAC filters, clean vents and ducts, and replace all light bulbs, all of which can retain the smoke smell if not changed out.