How to Remove Smoke Smell Caused by Your Fireplace, Woodstove or Cigarettes
So, my dream of having a woodstove AND a fireplace came true with our 1970’s house in the woods. It was a fixer-upper of sorts and, for me, the worst part was all of the old house smells. I explain how I got rid of most of the smells in my articles, How to Remove the Odors and Clean the Air in Your Home Naturally and Permanently and How To Remove Drain Odors from the Kitchen and Bathroom Sink. But I still had to figure out how to remove smoke smell from the house. Not only was there a wood stove and a wood fireplace in the house, but the previous owners may have smoked cigarettes in the house some, too.
Before we moved in we washed all of the walls, ceilings, cabinets, windows, doors, and trim. Then we painted the walls and ceilings and replaced most of the flooring. The smell was better, but it was far from gone. Read to the end to learn what we should have done.
We tried various remedies and with each, the smell got better. But the woodstove had been the main source of heat for the home for many years and the smoke smell had seeped into everything.
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- What We Should Have Done at the Beginning
- Do I Have to Stop Burning Wood because of the Smoke Smell?
- How to Get Rid of the Smoke Smell When You Continue To Burn Wood In Your Woodstove, Fireplace or Cigarettes
- 1. Smoke Cigarettes and Cigars Outdoors
- 2. Vacuum and Shampoo Your Carpets
- 3. Wash or Clean Fabrics Regularly
- 4. Clean your Walls Yearly
- 5. Clean with Orange Cleaner
- 6. Clean with Vinegar to Deodorize and Remove Smoke Smell
- 7. Keep Your Closet Doors Closed
- 8. Use Activated Charcoal to Naturally Deodorize the Air
- 9. Use an Ozone Machine Regularly
- 10. Use an Air Purifier
- 11. Change Your Furnace Filter Monthly When the Furnace/Air Conditioner is in Use.
- 12. Clean Your Chimney and Wood Stove Yearly with a Creosote Buster Log
- How to Sweep a Chimney – Step-by-Step
- 13. Keep a Tray of Kitty Litter inside your Wood Stove When not in Use.
- 14. Keep Your Woodstove and Fireplace Closed When Not in Use.
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What We Should Have Done at the Beginning
We didn’t clean with TSP. Cleaning all of the surfaces with TSP or a TSP alternative will help strip the smoke from the surfaces. This is no small task if when you are talking about your WHOLE HOUSE! You will need to wear protective clothing, goggles, and gloves to use it.
We didn’t prime. Paint with an odor sealing primer like Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Based primer or an oil-based primer. This will include the subfloor before you put new carpet or another flooring down. Remember inside of closets and any wooden shelves. Include kitchen and bathroom cabinets.
We didn’t paint the doors, trim, and closet shelves. It was wood-stained trim and it seemed a shame to cover it up with paint. It was always on our list to refinish them, but that wouldn’t have been enough. We needed to give them the same treatment as the walls described above to remove the smoke smell.
Do I Have to Stop Burning Wood because of the Smoke Smell?
There is something so cozy about sitting in front of a fire on a cold day. The warmth seems to penetrate and the smell of a fire from seasoned firewood can be so comforting. But what about when the warm spring days come and you stop burning fires? The lingering smoke smell that has seeped into your home’s surfaces and emanates from the chimney can be immense.
How to Get Rid of the Smoke Smell When You Continue To Burn Wood In Your Woodstove, Fireplace or Cigarettes
So do you have to stop burning wood? If the old smoke smell bothers you, as it does me, and you need or want to continue using your fireplace or woodstove, then there are some extra measures you can take to help keep the old smoke smell away. If you want to maintain a home free of smoke smell, then follow the tips below.
1. Smoke Cigarettes and Cigars Outdoors
First I’ll address smoking cigarettes, cigars, or anything else. If you want to maintain a fresh-smelling house, then you will need to smoke outdoors. Have a designated jacket that you wear while smoking and hang it by the door. Don’t put the jacket in your closet with your other coats or clothes, or they will all soon smell like smoke, too.
2. Vacuum and Shampoo Your Carpets
Vacuum your carpets regularly and shampoo them once your wood-burning season is over. Not only does regular vacuuming make your carpets last longer, according to Consumers Report, but it will also keep soot that escapes from your fire to adhere to your carpet fibers. Shampooing, of course, takes it a step farther and cleans the fibers, as well.
3. Wash or Clean Fabrics Regularly
Wash or dry clean your fabrics regularly. When you clean your windows and you see black soot on your rag, you know that the same soot is going everywhere else, too. It can tell you how often you need to clean these things. Steam clean your fabric-covered furniture and carpet, wash your curtains and rugs. Use an enzyme cleaner or vinegar in the wash water if possible to remove odors even better.
4. Clean your Walls Yearly
The dust and soot tend to build up more gradually the vertical surface of our walls and it is easy (for me, at least) to not even notice or consider that they might be carrying odor. Washing down your walls at least yearly–like in the spring once you are no longer burning wood in your home–will take you one step closer to keeping a clean smelling home.
5. Clean with Orange Cleaner
Orange essential oil is a fabulous deodorizer and cleaner. Long before essential oils were the rage, I found Organic Orange TKO Super Concentrate Cleaner and it is still my favorite. It lasts forever because you use such a little bit diluted in water. This is wonderful for cleaning smoke smell and add a fresh citrus smell to the air.
6. Clean with Vinegar to Deodorize and Remove Smoke Smell
White vinegar is another super inexpensive and natural cleaner that actually neutralizes smoke smells. Of course, you have to deal with the vinegar smell, but that generally dissipates in 8-24 hours, from my experience. Use the vinegar straight of dilute it in water. You can even put a bowl of vinegar in the space that you are trying to deodorize. White vinegar is also great to add to your laundry to remove smells, soften hard water and soften your clothes!
7. Keep Your Closet Doors Closed
Keep your closet doors closed during wood-burning season so that the smoke smell doesn’t permeate the closets and your clothes.
8. Use Activated Charcoal to Naturally Deodorize the Air
Activated charcoal is a powerful, natural deodorizer. You can get them in these ready-made bags with hooks to hang in closets or around your house. I placed them on closet shelves, under the sink, in cabinets and bedrooms. They should keep working for a couple of years, so can be worth it. Plus they are very affordable.
If you have very large rooms, a crawl space, or if you would rather make your own activated charcoal bags, check out my article, How to Remove Odors and Clean the Air in Your House Naturally and Permanently. You can purchase the activated charcoal in bulk and I show you how.
9. Use an Ozone Machine Regularly
After we painted cleaned and painted, the smell was still in the house. Of course, we were dealing with other house smells, too. We used an ozone machine to help remove the lingering smells from the house and it helped some. Of course, it is ideal to use the ozone machine continually. It really does help and it’s healthy for you, too.
This ozone machine is a good size for the average home and is highly rated.
How the ozone machine works to eliminate odors in plain English:
10. Use an Air Purifier
With so many highly-rated air purifiers out there, it’s tough to decide which is best. The air purifier I have listed here is 5 star rated and is reasonably priced with great reviews. Air purifiers will help keep smoke out of the air with continued woodstove use.
11. Change Your Furnace Filter Monthly When the Furnace/Air Conditioner is in Use.
A clean furnace filter (the return air filter) pulls air from the house through it, filtering dust, dander, and small particles like smoke. It won’t take the smoke smell out of your house completely, but it will help maintain a fresh-smelling house once you have cleaned your house thoroughly following my tips.
12. Clean Your Chimney and Wood Stove Yearly with a Creosote Buster Log
It’s important to burn a creosote sweeper log or canister once or twice before sweeping your chimney so that you loosen up the creosote that has built up.
How to Sweep a Chimney – Step-by-Step
It’s important to sweep your chimney at least once a year if you use your woodstove or chimney often. To keep the smells from the chimney back drafting into your home during the off-season, sweep your chimney after your wood-burning season is over each year.
Here’s a quick video that I found helpful on how to sweep your own chimney from the top down.
And if you can’t get on your roof, here is how to sweep your chimney from the inside, bottom up.
13. Keep a Tray of Kitty Litter inside your Wood Stove When not in Use.
My son-in-law–a cat lover–tells me that Fresh Step Crystals is a top-notch kitty litter for deodorizing, and it works just as well for removing odors in your home. To keep your wood stove or fireplace smelling fresh, place a tray or bowl of the kitty litter crystals inside. Of course, it works best if you have first cleaned out the ash from the fire, used the creosote sweeper log and swept the chimney.
14. Keep Your Woodstove and Fireplace Closed When Not in Use.
Buy an air-tight glass screen for your fireplace–which also helps with heating and cooling costs when your fireplace is not in use.
I hope my tips help you get rid of the smoke smell in your house. If I had, had all of this info when we first bought our house, we could have done things right from the beginning, saving time and tears!