Homes Where Smokers Live - How Did You Get Rid of Odor?

eldemilaSeptember 26, 2009

Just got word that our offer to purchase a home was accepted. Of the hundreds of homes I've looked at (I've been searching for a year, RA says I have the thickest file ) there were only about 3-4 where it was evident a smoker lived there, and of course, the one I like, someone in there smokes. As long as the inspections are okay, it's a done deal.

If you've had to deal with this issue to get rid of cigarette smells, can you tell me what you did to successfully rid the house of the smell? I know I'm going to pull up all the carpet and linoleum in the entire house - but what about the parquet floor in the entry way? I don't know if the wood can be cleaned of any smells. I'm also going to paint the walls, clean all the wood doors and frames, remove the wallpaper and anything else I can think of that may absorb that disgusting smell.

But, what could I be missing when it comes to what needs to be removed/replaced/cleaned?? Like, would the inside of the kitchen cabinets smell like this, and if so, how to remove the smell if I'm not going to immediately do the kitchen over (though I'd like to?) What about the floor registers?? How do you clean those out?

Please give me your advice, experience and techniques of ridding this house of this smell. I can't move in til I get rid of it all and thankfully, I do have time on my side that I won't be moving totally in til spring/summer.


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You can have a company come in an basically roto-root your ducts. That will get out dirt, animal fur, human hair, dander, etc. Also, change your furnace and humidifier filters.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 9:09PM
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Also when you paint, use Kill-Zee or something like that. It seals the walls and not sure about the wood floor. If it gets wet, it might smell, but again you can reseal the floor. Check at a good paint store or contact the company on line. It is amazing how that little smell sneaks out to annoy people. Check inside closets and cabinets also.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 11:59PM
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I'm almost positive I made a detailed post at one time about my dad's old house. He was a 3 pack a day smoker, she didn't inhale, so there was pure nicotine on everything. As far as I know, the wood was never washed, it was gross; and I smoke..

There are a few products I used, Dawn dish detergent, Murphy's Oil Soap, Greased Lightening, Krud Kutter, Mr Clean & Clorox Clean Up.

Anything that could get bleached did.. heater baseboards came apart, were cleaned. You can go one better and replace them if they're old.

I washed everything I could, walls, wood, took off the light switch covers. We took the carpet out, sanded floors in the main areas (living room, kitchen, dining room & hall).

The products I listed; you'll see what works best for each area. The Krud Kutter & Greased Lightening are the most powerful of the cleaners. I needed them in the main areas on the wood. In the bedrooms I was able to get away with Murphy's.

The Dawn is wonderful in the kitchen to get grease off of cabinets.

When you paint, yes, use Killz as a base. If you do not, the nicotine will seep through if it hasn't been cleaned 1st.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 8:26AM
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Smoke smells are huge turn offs to me and we've never purchased a home that smelled of smoke. But I can tell you that there is definitely a way of ridding the home of smoke smell. We bought a home a number of years ago that had been vacant for 6 months. The previous owner had died and her sons were selling the home. Much to our surprise after we moved in the next door neighbor revealed that the woman had died of lung cancer and smoked 2 cartons of cigarettes a week. Whatever the sons did in the 6 months since their mom's death, you could not tell a smoker had ever lived in the home. So although I don't know what the boys did, I do know it is certainly possible to rid the home of smoke smells. The cabinets and hardwood floors did not smell of smoke. All the walls had been freshly painted. It probably helped that there were no fabric curtains or carpet in the home to retain smells. Good luck!!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 8:53AM
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Getting rid of the nicotine can be a real pain. Clean the walls well with TSP and water- you can watch the nicotine run down the walls like diet coke, it's gross.

Like others have mentioned paint the walls with Kilz or some type of sealant primer so the nicotine stains can't bleed through the paint.

Make sure you do all bathrooms with a shower in it, as the hot steam usually causes the nicotine to run down the walls, leaving nice brown water marks every time you use the shower.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 4:17PM
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Like roselvr, old stale smoke gags me and I'm a smoker too. Yes, you can rid a house of the smell, if the hard surfaces are washed with a detergent, and anything absorbent like fabrics or carpets are removed. I bought a house a few years ago and the previous owners all smoked, kids included. It was a small house and I don't think they knew how to open their windows. When it was cleaned up and renovated to move in, you'd have never guessed.

Use Kilz on every painted surface if they haven't been painted with at least a semi-gloss or enamel. Those don't absorb, but flat paint and especially unpainted, textured ceilings do seem to be permeable. The vinyl and wood floors usually aren't an issue, as most are treated with sealers.

Air conditioners, especially window units are really stubborn. I swear I can still smell it when the filters are replaced. I even wiped the light bulbs off, they were grungy. Blinds should be taken down, each slat cleaned and sprayed off, or put under a shower head.

All windows, INCLUDING SCREENS, need washed. Go sniff a dirty screen, the dust it traps also traps smells. Be careful to wash all the high-up surfaces, like the tops of door and window sills.

After every square inch, literally is cleaned then open windows daily for several weeks and let the fresh air in so that there are numerous air exchanges.

I have friends and relatives who visit and have been astounded that they've known me for years and spent time in my house and never had a clue that I was a smoker, or had a cat. I don't buy into cover-ups but I do buy into buckets of sudsy water and windex. Yes, as said any house you buy if it has forced air should have ducts cleaned professionally........smokers or not. As much as I love gas heat and appliances, it also leaves a residue of sticky, dust trapping and therefore stinky layers. Brown walls and filmy windows aren't always a smoker's territory. Oh, I forgot, if the home has a stone or brick hearth, especially if it wasn't used often, you'll find it can be stinky too. Scrub brush and soap detergent and it dries fresh.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 4:59PM
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Get a fire restoration contractor in with an ozone generator after you repair or replace what you're planning on doing. Also there is a commercial cleaning product called OdoBan that you can get at Home Depot that works better than any of the other cleaning products listed for this type of odor.

Don't forget to paint the ceilings.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2009 at 11:37PM
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What is TSP?

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 2:02AM
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sparksals ~

My dad was a part-time painter and always used TSP (used to come in a bright orange box) and mix the powder with water to degrease surfaces. You can get this at most hardware stores like Lowes or Home Depot. They may offer it for sale at places like WalMart and Target. Below is a little more info:

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 4:07AM
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Thanks for all the great tips!

I've heard and read about TSP and actually bought a box at a thrift store (gosh knows where it is though) but have never used it before. Yesterday I was reading a TOH magazine that mentioned another product similar to TSP, just a bit more environmentally friendly. But I knew about this option. One question would be, if you use TSP on the walls, would you still need to use something like KILZ after washing down the walls with TSP?

I'm trying to save a bit on $ here and there as I went over my budget on my offer for the house so if I can do the TSP part before having someone come and paint (and thus, I know each and every sq foot of wall is cleaned right) How easy is it to use this stuff? Two areas of the house have very high pitched ceilings, not sure how to tackle getting these done - may have to leave these to professionals, but otherwise, for those of you who use/have used TSP, what other supplies would you suggest to have on hand? Gloves?

Someone on another thread mentioned something called Dirtex - why would you use this vs TSP and are they the same, just different name for similar products? Never heard of it before. Anyone ever use it?

Thanks for the idea about the screens - I would have washed them, eventually, but never thought about them holding odor, as they are on the outside.

Yes, there is a fireplace and I was told that in the 6 years that these people have lived there they never used it. I totally forgot to check the inside of the fireplace to see how dirty/clean it was before I left but will be having it inspected by a prof., but as far as cleaning, soap detergent and scrub brush? What type of soap detergent, dish soap? I've never had a fireplace in my life, so I'm totally clueless on anything having to do with one other than knowing it needs wood (I don't even know the type of wood!) There's a LOT of brick when it comes to this particular fireplace-all the way up to the pitched ceiling, and when you come in the front door, the back of the fireplace is right in front of you, yep, it's a LOT of brick!

If all goes well with the inspection I will be heading back up for the closing the end of Oct and want to make sure I have all the cleaning supplies needed so I don't have to run around looking for them, and probably have most here, so no need to rebuy. So, besides TSP, please throw out some "must have" cleaning products you may think of. I know all the basics, but honestly, without a detailed list, I'm sure I'll forget something. I do plan on taking Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, lots of microfiber cloths and paper towels, buckets, Fabreeze, etc. but I'm sure I'll need some stuff I won't be thinking of, so let me know if you think of something that isn't so obvious.

Again, I appreciate all the input and welcome more - you can never get to much helpful information!



    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 6:12AM
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You mix the TSP powder with water warm/hot water in a bucket. There should be directions on the box as to how much. Wear gloves and get a good scrub brush and some rags. Dip the brush in the TSP/Water Solution and just start gently scrubbing the walls down. You'll see the nicotine run down the walls- it will be a brown liquid. Once the brown liquid stops running down the walls when your scrubbing a section then move to another section. I would advise plastic drop cloths on the floor. Don't over saturate the walls with water and have clean rags to wipe them dry after scrubbing. If the brown liquid just keeps appearing then get what you can off and the rest you can just seal up with kilz.

When your all done washing and rag drying- let the walls air dry. Once the walls are dry then you need to paint the kilz primer over all the walls and ceiling to prevent any nicotine you did not get off from bleeding through the paint.

If you don't want to use TSP, I've heard vinegar and water will also work.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 11:36AM
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TSP = trisodium phosphate.

I once bought a house formerly occupied by a cigar smoker. I never could get the smell out.

Here is a link that might be useful: Trisodium Phosphate

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 11:52AM
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The 'TSP Sustitutes' are Sodium Meta Silicate.

They are not nearly as effective as TSP.

If you used pounds of TSP on a regular basis (it used to have instructions on the box for 'boosting' clothes washing detergent) it might be a phosphate threat to the environment.

Using it in small quantities for cleaning is not a real hazard to anything except your skin.
It can easily cause first degree burns between the how water and the chemical itself.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 12:10PM
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Congrats on your purchase. You mentioned painting the walls, but what about the ceilings? To make sure you cover all the smells up I think you need to paint it as well.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 12:12PM
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I recommend giving the powdered Dirtex a try. I found it to work better on the cabinets (which in our case, had the finish stained from the nicotine).

If you use TSP, BE SURE TO RINSE EXTREMELY WELL BEFORE PAINTING! Also, make sure that you don't let the water pool on the woodwork and avoid it running behind it at all possible costs. If it does, I'd consider removing the woodwork, rinsing it well, drying it out, then reinstalling it.

I'd used TSP after removing 10+ layers of the paint and wallpaper sandwich (that was totally filled with sticky tar and a gross nicotine smell) that was on our plaster walls. Since the woodwork was going to be stripped and refinished, I wasn't that worried about "damaging" the finish. Baseboards were removed and stored in the "dry" garage to be stripped. They come down and I start cleaning them to reinstall and saw one that looked JUST like it had been in a fire. Said "fire damage" was from a baseboard next to a portion of the floor with old water damage. There was no fire, it was just a spiffy keen wood eating mold that ended up giving me another bad allergy attack.

In other words, yes, TSP is fine and dandy but it absolutely promotes mold growth and there may be dormant mold spores on/in the woodwork that will reactivate in a heartbeat if they get some moisture and in the case of tsp, some nice food.

If you have any tile on the walls/ceiling of a bathroom (especially if it's on the ceiling of the shower) expect to be cleaning it at least monthly, even years after you move in. The tiles and grout bleed the nicotine, even with an exhaust fan running during every shower.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 3:22PM
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Several years ago I took it upon myself to clean an 'old ladies' house. She was a horder and it was the filthiest house anyone could image. She never smoked, but had cats all over the place living within the piles of garbage. She became ill and needed home health care. The house would have been condemned if anyone came in. The house reeked of cat urine and old garbage.

I tried TSP but didn't like it. It could dissolve the finish on the woodwork. I wound up using gallons of Fantastic spraying and wiping with hot water. Brown liquid ran off the walls and woodwork. She was never a smoker and lived alone so I don't know what the brown was, but it was everywhere.

For thick crud, hot water and Dawn detergent was great. I used it on all the door frames and the kitchen cabinets. I would spray Fantastic after using the Dawn.

Fresh air and letting everything dry did the trick. Her house was sparkling. The wood floors were ruined from the urine and other garbage but I mopped with Dawn, Mr. Clean, Lysol until no more brown slime appeared. New throw rugs and
the house smelled clean. The floors were terrible stained, but clean. I also used a pet deodorizer on the floors.

This house was beyond anything anyone ever saw. I had to use rakes to make paths to walk. I still can't believe what I saw.


    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 7:40PM
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I found that after all the extensive scrubbing and water use, a dehumidifier worked wonders in spiffing up the aroma of the house in general, and pulled moisture out of the more porous unfinished surfaces like brick, stone and plaster.

Let's put it this way. Whenever I've purchased and moved into a formerly owned home, no matter how clean it looked, I washed out all the cubpboards, and especially appliances before using them or putting my belongings into them. I aired out all closets. Blah, blah, blah. LOL. I never got fancy with what type of cleaners. Degreasing is the most important, and for some surfaces, any good detergent will work. Bleach is a necessity. I use murphy's oil for things like built-ins, woodwork, and cupboard surfaces.

I really steer clear of highly fragranced products, and aside from hideously grease-laden kitchen areas where it was obvious the PO never cleaned regularly the surfaces after cooking, just common, basic products worked fine. If all surfaces are just plainly will be pleasantly surprised how stink goes away.

If the paints used on walls are not permeable, and scrubbable, you may not even have to seal off with Kilz and re-paint. will find few people put glossy and well sealed paint on ceilings. And, if they're textured, have fun. I get on a ladder, with a soft scrub brush, and large sponge handy and scrub my textured ceilings. I also sealed them all and painted with a low semi-gloss to keep them cleanable.

As for brickwork or fireplaces, I wasn't talking about the smell from previous wood-burning. I was speaking to how porous surfaces, and even the dead air space of the fire boxes absorbing aromas, like cigar smoke.

What I would do, is start a good basic scrubbing of all surfaces, going to whatever product you find works. If it's obvious a mild one isn't, stop right there and go get the heavy duty stuff. You will know immediately if it's handling the aroma issue by being out of the house for breaks and re-entering it.

Many smokers confine their useage to one or two rooms of a house, like a den or study. I do. It's never taken to sleeping areas, or even the living room. It's confined to one room and believe me, it gets aired out and scrubbed frequently. You may get lucky and find the contamination mostly in one area.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2009 at 7:54PM
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debelli - nice house! I hope the inspection goes well. The only thing I have to add to the suggestions is that a bowl of vinegar left in a room helps to abate odors (of any kind). However, the deep cleaning suggestions you've gotten here are fabulous. I would have never thought about cleaning the screens to get rid of smoke odor! Have your fireplace cleaned professionally, that is not a job for an amateur. Good luck.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 5:43PM
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Want to add that I used a lot of white wash cloths. Walmart has them cheap, pack of 12. They are excellent for something like this. I also save old dish towels.

Calliope added more of what I did.. as I said, I know I have another detailed post.. but anything that could be cleaned, got cleaned. Windows & screens went into the tub, sprayed down with Clorox. I also use an old tooth brush.

Of course, as a home owner you have to decide how involved to get into cleaning the house. You might not have to bust your butt, maybe they smoked outside mostly. You'll notice what rooms stink.

Depending on the nicotine damage, that's how I'd decide about Killz. When you spray wood and the nicotine runs down, yes, seal the walls after washing. If you don't, it will eventually bleed through the paint.

If you are calling in a pro, let them make the call; then ask about a warrenty.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 7:25AM
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bags of charcoal that you BBQ with are also great for absorbing odors--just open the bag and let it sit out...

bread is also good for absorbing odors--again--just open the bag and spread the slices open...

I have read that in spots cats have urinated the concrete slab can absorb that odor and you have to seal the concrete--it can't be cleaned out--
house in our old neighborhood was owned by woman who had cancer and eventually died in hospice==her son did not realize there was a cat trapped in garage--it died there--very serious odor/fluid situation--garage floor had to be sealed...

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 9:43AM
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Lyfia, thanks! We will most definitely be painting the walls AND ceilings.

Creekside, that's not good to hear that you couldn't get the smell out - what did you eventually do? I couldn't live in a house that smells like that.
Calliope, I am already getting a list of cleaning supplies to take up there with me and have banana boxes ready to put it all in. I won't be moving anything in before I have it cleaned inside and out. The hardest part is going to be the high walls and ceilings in the living room and foyer, the rest are doable with a ladder (that I have to get)

Yes, the ceilings are textured, they are, as best as I can describe, a flower design??? I did understand what was meant with the fireplace - they claim, in the six years they've lived there, they never used it???

Neesie, thanks - I like it and see a lot of potential in it, though potential usually means $$$$ All in due time. I'll take some vinegar with me too. Chimney inspector is coming out tomorrow and will let me know not only if it's in good condition, but if it needs to be cleaned out.

Roselvr, taking a bunch of white bar-type towels with me - thanks for reminding me, they're going in the pile of cleaning suppplies to take. We have hundreds, literally!

Lovestoread - I use charcoal in a trailer we have when we close it up, didn't even think about taking some there, so thanks, have some bags already there for when I go back! But bread??? That's a new one for me, never heard about it!

So, I keep getting conflicting reports - do you need to use TSP in addition to KILZ? On one of the cans I saw yesterday at Lowes, it says it covers stains and smoke odor?????

It's really hard to tell, other than the odor if they smoke as far as the walls go. It seems they may have recently painted the house, if they did and it was over the walls that were smoke laden already, will that make any difference on how to handle the painting/cleaning? There is really almost nothing at all on their walls, no pictures, not much of anything, it's sparsely furniture and hardly decorated. In fact, when we went to take the second look and take my Mom there to see it, they had some company come in and stage the house - it looked so different than when we saw it and took the initial pics - they moved around the furniture and brought in paintings and knick-knacks. It looked nice, but now there are holes all over where they hung pics from the nails!

Actually, the LA told my agent that they were going to bring in a machine to get the smoke smell out - they may be waiting to do this until they know if it's a done deal and not bother. I should have made that a must in the contract - just thought about it, darn!

Anyhow, when I looked behind an armoire in the bedroom, I saw the part of the wall that was unpainted. The room is purple and the wall behind that was white - wonder if they are going to leave it like that or not, doesn't matter really to me, it's getting all painted anyhow.

Here's a few more pics of what I'm dealing with:

Purple Master (two little closets for gosh knows what will be coming out!)

And a lovely purple bathroom to match!

Lovely wallpaper, coming down!

kitchen cabinets - can't wait to clean these!

Living room

one of the extra bedrooms

half bath

As you can see, there was NOTHING at all decorating the walls and the furniture is just plain and boring.

Anyhow, I really appreciate all the replies and suggestions and welcome any and all to come!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 4:14PM
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"So, I keep getting conflicting reports - do you need to use TSP in addition to KILZ? On one of the cans I saw yesterday at Lowes, it says it covers stains and smoke odor????? "

That kind of depends on how bad the odor is... if TSP doesn't do the trick by itself, then go to Kilz. And while you're at it, you might consider the low-odor version of kilz. The old fashioned Kilz has horrendous fumes until it dries completely. The low-odor stuff, while probably not healthy, at least doesn't make me feel like I'm going to die.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 8:25PM
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Odor, well, I think any kind of cig odor is bad, but at least I can walk in this house and not gag - there have been some homes I opened the door to and didn't bother going in to the stench was so bad! Or ones you walk out smelling like you've been smoking. This is a gem compared to some - thankfully, I didn't have to go in to too many homes where smokers lived.

I thought the TSP was more for removing the tar/nicotine so the odor doesn't seep through the paint and come back - not so much for the odor, or is it both??

If they painted in there recently, and I'm sure it was without KILZ or a similar product and without TSP - should I just go with the KILZ or try the TSP and see what comes off the walls, if nothing (they look clean) than just use KILZ or something similar??


    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 10:53PM
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On those kitchen cabinets, spray them let it sit, then wipe it down, let the spray penetrate, it will do more work than if you wipe down too fast.
Are you going to paint them or leave them wood?

I bought a house with smoke smell, it did go away.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 10:22AM
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Re: kitchen cabinets and other wood, take a look at Scott's Liquid Gold. I know my mother used that successfully on paneled walls covered in nicotine film. Ugh!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 11:17AM
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Oh, and if you are planning to paint anyway, why not just use the Kilz for your primer to be on the safe side? I assume that if there has been enough time for there to be a buildup of nicotine, you will need to paint.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 12:49PM
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Kilz is a good product, but you need to be very careful using any sealing primer, paint, or other finish in today's homes. In some cases, homes need to dry to the interior. Kilz will prevent that. So will some other products.

A spot of Kilz here and there won't hurt anything. Rolling it on all the interior walls may promote mold growth. You can find information for your area at

Here is a link that might be useful: Drying To The Interior

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 1:15PM
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Arm and Hammer just came out with a paint meant to be used to get rid of smoke smells.

If it were me I'd steam clean as much of the house as you can including the walls, floors and ceilings

Anything made of fiber is either going to have to be washed or tossed.

TSP is helpful BUT it's not the only product out there. Greased Lighting also does wonders! Elbow grease is going to be your best tool.

Remember things like newspapers and old boxes are going to hold smells and chances are pretty good that the PO will leave some behind. Ditch them as fast as you can. Every little bit you do helps.

For the inside of cupboards you can leave a bowl of cider vinegar for a few days OR buy a large pack of speriment gum and unwrap. Place a stick in each cupboard and drawer and leave close for a few days. It should remove most of the smell.

Open up the windows for a few hours everyday. It will help the air quality.

Take any hard surface items like mini blinds down and wash in the tub or outside......Grease Lightening works very well on this type of stuff. It will even whiten the cords.

Don't forget to wipe down the lightbulbs too. As awful as it is even the bulbs will hold nicotine and tar.

Glass will need cleaning too. So you will have the windows to wash. You can tell how bad the tar build up is by taking a razor blade and running along the glass in a straight line. The orange /brown build up on the end of the razor is what's on your windows.

I'd wear gloves and a mask while doing this and change the water you are using often. You will know when you get the nicotine, the rags and the water will turn orange. The walls will probably streak. Hot, really hot water will make working easier.

BTW in case you need to remove wallpaper. Buy yourself a Paper Tiger to score the walls. No matter which method you use to remove the paper. The paper Tiger is a must IMHO.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 1:32PM
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cmarlin - if we keep them, I'll clean them, but no paint, I think they look pretty rich and even though old, I actually like them. I think I'll probably put in something like Silestone in a mocha color and it would look great. What will determine whether we keep them is if I can find a good match that will appropriately fit.

kelpermaid, I think they painted in the house recently, though I'm not sure - going to try and find out. I know they've lived there for 6 years, so if they are the only people who smoked there in the last 25 years since it was built, at least 19yrs of it had no smokers - but not sure how bad the last 6 years have been.

creekside - now you've TOTALLY confused me!

In some cases, homes need to dry to the interior. Kilz will prevent that. So will some other products.
A spot of Kilz here and there won't hurt anything. Rolling it on all the interior walls may promote mold growth.

So, if you are going to use Kilz after cleaning with TSP or something like it, you can't paint everything?? I'm sure I'm not understanding something here - I'll try to read the info on the link you sent - maybe call the co. next week.

Carol_from_NY -thanks, I think my cleaning list is growing by leaps and bounds. The way I'm going, I may have to put my mother on the top of the car and tell her to hold on to the luggage rack for the trip up I'm going to have so many supplies to take! Thanks for mentioning the steamer, I have one and wouldn't have remember to think about taking it. I've never heard about putting gum in for smells, that's a new one. I'll try ANYTHING to get the house to normal. Thanks for all you suggested.

Well, at this time we are in limbo. Inspections turned up a few problems, two problems that could be major, one that definitely is and has to do with a foundation failure. I am trying to get the owners to agree to fix what's on the repair list I sent them - which isn't everything that needs to be repaired, I took on the cheaper and more easily aspects of it. Will know more next week whether the deal goes through or falls apart.

Wish me luck!!

Thanks again to all - everyone has been extremely helpful, and it's all appreciated!

Oh, one more thing - my Mom was there during the inspection and told me they had a machine running to take the stink out and she thought it smelled better in there - was probably an ozone machine. My nose will decide (if we close on it, that is)


    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 4:54PM
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creekside - now you've TOTALLY confused me!

In some cases, homes need to dry to the interior. Kilz will prevent that. So will some other products.
A spot of Kilz here and there won't hurt anything. Rolling it on all the interior walls may promote mold growth.

So, if you are going to use Kilz after cleaning with TSP or something like it, you can't paint everything?? I'm sure I'm not understanding something here - I'll try to read the info on the link you sent - maybe call the co. next week.

Well, I live to confuse. ;-) No, not really.

It has nothing to do with using TSP. Disregard everything but this. Someone suggested priming with Kilz, which is why I posted. Kilz is a primer/sealer. It does not allow moisture to pass through it. According to Building Science Corporation, you should not use anything on your interior walls that will seal them against moisture, if your house needs to dry to the interior.

Follow the link in my other post to see if that applies to your house. If it does, do not prime with Kilz. Use a non-sealing primer and paint with latex paint.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 9:31PM
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If you use a non sealing primer than their would be no point because you have to seal the nicotine so it can't bleed through the paint.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2009 at 11:59PM
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You don't need to seal to get rid of the stains from smokers. Scrubbing with a good cleaning product will get rid of it, in my experience. The primer may not be absolutely necessary for the new paint, but may give a more even coverage. It depends on how damaging the scrubbing was to the old finish.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 12:14AM
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Creek, I went to the link, and though I didn't read it verbatim, I believe from what I did read, this is for new construction that they are talking about. Def. not the case here if that is correct.

What I'm now trying to find out is, if they did recently paint, and being just about 100% sure they didn't clean the walls prior to them putting on this paint, would using TSP to wash the newly painted walls down be a necessary/needed step before priming and painting??? If they painted, say, in the last couple months, and still are smoking in the home, should I still use TSP on the walls, or would the Kilz or similar product be sufficient enough to use on its own and take care of the smell and any faint stains that may be on the newer painted walls????


    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 4:52AM
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I think the only way to find out is to clean an area and see if you get any nicotine running down the walls. More of the smoke tends to collect in the corners and where the walls meet the ceiling so that might be the best place to check. You don't have to mix up the TSP just yet, you should be able to check by mixing up a little warm water and white vinegar and wash an area of the wall.

If you get any nicotine then I would try to clean what you can off the walls and seal the rest with the Kilz. If an area is too hard to clean like the ceiling then just make sure you seal it.

If you don't get any nicotine and you don't think they sealed it then you might want to. It depends on how heavy of smokers they were. I'm assuming though that over time nicotine stains would start to bleed through the newly painted walls.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 10:42AM
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If they have just painted over the old stains, I'm not sure cleaning would be very effective, if it would be effective at all. You could try it, and see if you get any brown stains running off. That's a good sign you are dealing with a heavy layer of smoker's residue.

If you don't have to worry about drying to the interior, I would probably go with the original formula Kilz and seal everything in, washed or not.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2009 at 12:16PM
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I got back a rental home occupied by heavy smokers for two years. A coating of BIN by Zinsser, white pigmented shellac primer sealer, was sufficient to cover the walls and kill the odour. The hardwood floors, which they used to stamp out the butts, had to be sanded and refinished. Not all the burn marks came out. Gave it that vintage look.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2009 at 8:49PM
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