Smoke from your apartment neighbors can leave one of the most lingering smells behind, as well as visible tar residue on any hard surface that it comes into contact with. Leftover resin and tar may require the total cleansing of a space, including air-purifying, repainting, and replacing both carpets and paint to get rid of the lingering odors.
This is a step by step guide to removing the smell of smoke from an apartment or other enclosed space. Once all of the steps listed below have been completed, the smell and sticky tar residue should be removed entirely from the apartment.
Contact The Landlord First
If smoke smell is coming from your neighbor in your apartment then you need to stop it at its source.
Get your landlord involved and ask them what they can do. It even might be against the lease agreement to smoke in an apartment and it’s something for them to deal with.
Since the tar and smell can seep into your home ask the landlord what they can do. If they can’t or won’t help much here are something you can try.
Wear Disposable Gloves
This process will expose your hands to chemicals that will be incredibly harsh and unforgiving. Use disposable gloves to minimize the damage to your skin.
Remove All Sources Of Smoke/Ash
Empty and wash all ashtrays. Bag all trash and remove it from the interior of the apartment. Remove all traces of cigarette butts or ashes.
Open And Thoroughly Air Out The Apartment
Open up all windows and doors for as long as practical to do so. Allow as long as possible for the entire apartment to air out.
Baking soda and carpet deodorizers are necessary to rid the apartment of the tar and odors.
Start The Laundry
All drapes, sheets, blankets, towels, tablecloths, exposed laundry, and removable cushion covers need to be washed in the hottest water that the fabric will tolerate.
If any of the smoke smell lingers after the initial wash, be prepared to rewash the entire load.
Sprinkle Carpets and Furniture With Baking Soda
All carpet, rugs, cushions, pillows, mattresses, chairs, and any item that has a cloth exterior needs to be sprinkled with baking soda.
This will absorb the strong smell of smoke from the item. It may be necessary to perform this action more than once, especially if smoking has been a long term activity indoors.
Clean Hard Surfaces With Vinegar
All floors, ceilings, windows, screens, fixtures, counters, and walls need to be washed thoroughly in either vinegar diluted with water.
They should be cleaned at least one time, and if the tar is visible on them, more than one wash will need to occur. The non-porous surfaces may be sticky to the touch from the tar that has saturated the surface. Often times, such as in bathrooms, the steam will make the tar drip like condensation off of the walls and fixtures.
Wash And Repaint All Interior Walls
The walls must be thoroughly washed before repainting, as tar will bleed through the paint, especially if it is heavy tar.
There are also specialty items sold, such as Kilz, that will cover tar and prevent it from bleeding through the new paint. However, the walls still need to be washed with vinegar to rid the space of the smell. Afterward, repaint with interior paint of your choice.
Make sure to consult your landlord as they may be able to help you or it may be against the lease to paint your apartment.
Continue To Air The Apartment Out
Once the painting and carpet cleaning has been completed, the smell should be reduced drastically.
However, you should continue to air the space out for another 48 hours if it is at all possible to do so. Also, check the linens to ensure they do not need to be rewashed. If it is possible to do so, line dry the laundry to further air the smoke and tar from the laundry.
Baking Soda Reapplication
All furniture and carpeting need to be sprinkled with baking soda again, and it should be allowed to remain as the space is being aired out. Then, vacuum the baking soda away, and you should have a pretty fair idea of what the outcome will be.
I find it best to use a shop vacuum for vacuuming up the baking soda and highly encourage you to use one instead of your normal vacuum.
Not all fixtures, furnishings, and spaces will be able to rid the smell of smoke completely. The most important part is to wash away all of the tar and rid the area entirely of the ash and cigarette butts, including washing the waste receptacles that the cigarettes and ashes were disposed into. The wastebaskets can also harbor the odor of smoke and will require cleaning with vinegar to rid them of the smoke and tar smell as well.
By following the steps listed above, you should be able to rid the space of any light smoking smell completely. However, the heavier the smoking and the longer the duration of smoking, there may be a need to repeat these steps to completely rid the space of the tar and odor left behind from repeated instances of smoking inside of the area.
You should ensure that every single hard surface inside the space is wholly washed in a vinegar solution at least once before repainting any surface. Also, any item that can be machine laundered should be washed at the hottest possible temperature at least one time, preferably twice to ensure that all lingering tar and odor are washed away. Finally, using activated charcoal or baking soda in the corners and closets should alleviate any remaining odors.