Eradicate The Smell Of Smoke With A Handy Kitchen Ingredient

If you've ever gotten into the car of a smoker, even when they aren't smoking, you know that cigarettes leave behind a pungent odor long after they've been burnt. That's thanks to a combination of sticky tar and resin in the cigarette. And if you can smell it in a car well after the cigarette has been smoked, the same is true for homes. As much as we hate to acknowledge it, there are a lot of homes out there that smell of cigarette smoke, even if a smoker hasn't lived there in ages. And it is a pungent smell, to say the least, especially if smoking indoors has occurred over long spans of time, as the smoke can actually be absorbed into the paint and structures of the house, making usual air fresheners totally helpless against the issue.  

To eliminate pesky smoke smells found on non-fabric items such as walls, chairs, and flooring, turn to the multi-purpose cleaning powerhouse we all know and love — good old-fashioned white, distilled vinegar, and oranges. White vinegar naturally rubs out odors, but it smells like, well, vinegar. So to harness its odor-eliminating properties without overwhelming your nose, add oranges to the mix. Then you'll be left with a fresh, citrusy scent. 

Making your orange-vinegar concoction

Infusing the vinegar with an orange fragrance can be done in a few different ways. You can allow the orange peels to steep in the vinegar for a few days before straining and adding it to a spray bottle. This is a great option if you already have fresh oranges on hand. Otherwise, you can use orange essential oils; these are affordable and pack a ton of fresh fragrance without a need to steep. Just combine a few drops of essential oil with equal parts of vinegar, then shake the solution to fully combine the vinegar and oil. As a note, do not swap orange for tangerine essential oils, as they have a natural dye that can stain surfaces. 

Now it's time to apply it to whichever hard surface is holding onto the smoke smell. Spritz the surface directly and let it sit for a minute. This will give the vinegar time to cut through the smell and any sticky residues, then wipe it down with a wash rag. Because of the nature of cigarette smoke, it will probably take a few rounds of this process before the smell is fully eradicated. 

Make your home smell fresh again

The power combo of the vinegar's odor-cutting and cleaning properties as well as the fresh perfumes of the oranges, will eventually cut through that pesky smoke smell and leave you with a fresh-smelling, cleaner home. And this solution works well on most hard, non-porous surfaces such as glass, metal, laminate, stainless steel, and hard plastic. Optionally, you can add a dash of dish soap to your orange-vinegar mixture if you want extra cleaning strength. This cleaning solution is affordable, made up of things you probably already have on hand, and doesn't involve synthetic cleaning agents. It should be noted that even though it's natural, vinegar is chemically harsh, so you should open windows and turn fans on when you're working with vinegar. 

This hack will likely take some time to work fully. Cigarette smoke odor typically builds up over time, so expect this solution to work in layers, not instantly. But it should not be used on porous materials like fabric as it can seep in. This can lead to discoloration, foul odor, and damage. Because this solution only works on hard surfaces, it won't help you if you've got a couch or carpet that smells of cigarette smoke.