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Clear the air: How to remove smoke smell from your apartment

Don't let remaining cigarette smoke from a previous resident ruin how you feel about your new home.

By now, you're well aware of the health consequences of smoking. You may even be aware of the effects of secondhand smoke, which can include health dangers for those in the presence of a lit cigarette. However, many people remain uneducated on the risks of thirdhand smoke, which is defined by the Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights as the residue left behind from smoking, which can build up on clothing, surfaces and furnishings in the home. Young children are especially prone to health issues due to thirdhand smoke, as they're likely to place their hands in their mouths after touching surfaces that may contain the harmful substance.

Moving into a new place that was previously owned or rented by a smoker can mean more initial work during the move-in process, but it shouldn't completely deter you from deciding on the home. There are many ways to remove the smell and danger of smoke residue.

Start with the floors

Since it's almost impossible to completely remove smells from a carpet, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors recommended starting from scratch after an address change. Remove the carpeting, and before a new one is placed down, scrub the floor underneath to make sure that no odor seeps in through the new flooring. If switching the carpeting isn't a possibility, hire someone to professionally wash it. He or she has special tools designed to go beyond what your vacuum cleaner can do.

Use odor-absorbing substances

There are many natural materials you can use to remove the odor from your new home. The InterNACHI suggested using things like orange peels, coffee grounds and bowls of vinegar to neutralize the offensive smell of remaining cigarette smoke. If there were any couches or chairs left over from the previous tenant and you'd like to keep them, try sprinkling some baking soda over it and vacuuming it up. Just be sure to test the substance on the opposite side of a cushion to make sure that it doesn't bleach the fabric.

Check your lights

The InterNACHI noted that some light​ bulbs may attract smoke and release it when they're turned on because of the heat they give off. For this reason, you may want to purchase replacements, and even opt for higher-efficiency bulbs that don't produce as much heat. While it may seem tedious, it has the potential to make your home more personalized and free of the lingering smell. Plus, replacing all of the bulbs in a new home is a great way to start completely fresh in your new place.

Wash the walls

Cigarette smoke can build up on the walls over time and create a film of smelly residue. If you're able to wet-wash them without ruining the paint, Good Housekeeping recommended doing so. Spray on some all-purpose cleaner, let it soak and wipe off with a rag or paper towel. If the smell remains, you may need to paint over them, either with a new color or a gloss that can seal it in and cover up any remaining residue. If you're renting, you may need to talk to your landlord before doing so. Be sure to get his or her recommendations for removing the smell. He or she may be able to put you in contact with a helpful professional, or even take the reigns on removing the residue.

Change the air

In addition to all of these cleaning tips, you should be sure to keep all of the windows in your home open for as long as possible to provide ventilation. Letting the fresh air circulate throughout your place can be helpful in removing odors, explained the InterNACHI. It may also help to change air filters, which may keep in a lot of the harmful residue.

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