Cleaning house with heavy smoke stench

So I need to travel back home to stay with my mother for about a week. She’s a heavy smoker and her house smells absolutely disgusting. So bad that I literally gag when I’ve been in it, barely able to avoid vomiting.

Anyone have advice for cleansing it of the awful stench before I stay with her? Anyone had luck with a cleaning service of some kind, or a couple air cleaners running non-stop? No idea what it would take, just desperate to find something that would work.

Thanks for any tips!

Good luck, brother. Only solution I can think of is the general only way to be sure.

The stuff gets stuck to the walls, ceilings, etc. and is hard as hell to wash off. If you remove a painting or clock you may see a lighter shade of color underneath. Painting over it also doesn’t actually get rid of it, and the stuff will continue to give off carcinogens even years later.

No, I know, it’s terrible crap. Just hoping for something that can at least temporarily make it even the least bit more tolerable for me while I’m there.

In cars you can use ozone. Plug in a device that makes ozone for a few hours and all the smell is gone within hours. I wouldn’t do that in a populated house. Maybe relocate to a hotel for a day or two while it’s running.

I have not heard of anything. We had to help a friend renovate their flat who was a heavy smoker. We had to get specialist paint that covered it up. It helped but this stuff is in everything and you can’t really get rid of it besides ripping out everything as far as I know.

Febreze? Not sure whether it would help if the smoke has been in everything for a bajillion years and it sounds like you may need a crate of it but it’s probably the best thing short of the only way to be sure.

The only real solution is…stop smoking. Seriously. Even with light tobacco use over time houses smell terrible, and it takes months, at least, for the smells to dissipate after the source is removed. No matter what you do. You can mask the odors somewhat, but then you are smelling whatever scent you are using to cover the smoke up. As @ImaTarget notes, you pretty much have to gut the place really.

tl;dr, invest in a gas mask.

Baking soda can absorb scents - the more surface area the better so spread it on surfaces or on trays. There are commercial products that do an even better job - but baking soda works in a pinch.

The timespan though is usually hours or days. When I bought my home from a smoker I covered my basement floor with a thin layer of it - and left it there for months (it did work!).

I second the Febreze suggestion IF you can stand the smell of it. Personally I find it almost as repellent as cigarette smell, but STALE cigarette smell is even worse than fresh.

Agree with the baking soda idea in small areas, not sure how well that will work for whole rooms. The ozone idea is a good one, but yeah, you wouldn’t want to be there while it was working.

One other idea: get a diffuser, or several, and load them up with eucalyptus or cedar or something. It won’t get rid of the smell, but it might well mask it some with better smells.

There is a type of Febreze with no added sent so that might be one way to get rid of the cigarette smell and not have whatever smell they provide added to the mix.

Two box fans in two windows creating a tunnel of airflow through the house, leaving windows open as much as possible.

If you can’t do that, use box fans as filters:

Stop at a hardware store and pick up some box fan sized furnace filters and tape them to the fans. Highest grade you can find, try to get x2 or x4 in the width or they block too much airflow. Search Youtube for box fan air filter.

Activated charcoal, baking soda and/or vinegar (used separately, not mixed together.)

Have you considered severing your olfactory nerve?

Be sure to drill holes in it while you are at it.

Wash the walls and ceilings with TSP and then repaint; throw out carpets, furniture, and drapes. Wood Oil soap on all stained wood and wood flooring. These are the only steps that I have found that work.

edit: sorry, I see you’re only staying for a week. In that case, baking soda dusted on everything + a big bowl of baking soda in the middle of the bedroom you will be using. Bring your own sheets and blankets. Have a set of clothes only for the inside of the bedroom and don’t bring back into the room after you are out of it with them on. Spray the drapes with something (Febrezz, Lysol, Vodka (read about, but never tried))

My wife uses a spray bottle with Vodka in it that she uses on costumes (armpits and in general) in between performances when she’s supplying costumes for plays (and when the clothes are returned and are stinky). So that’s a good suggestion for cloth items.

Thanks for the advice! Sounds like a combo of baking soda, Febreeze, and box fans, if I can talk my sister into trying all of this out before I get there.

I doubt my multiple decades quest of trying to get her to quit smoking isn’t going to suddenly come to fruition so the above will have to do.

Febreeze really is the best bet… because there’s no way you’re really gonna be able to clear out the smoke smell that’s already permeating everything.

One thing that I’ve found that is nice for covering up odor, is that powder stuff you shake onto the carpet, and then vacuum up.

It’s good shit. Not magic, but pretty great. I mean it’s also just 99% baking soda with some fragrance mixed in, so feel free to just baking soda the carpet for a few hours and then vacuum it up if you don’t care for SPRING FRESH or FUZZY LAUNDRY scent.