It may seem so obvious these days, how harmful smoking is to your health, but it wasn’t until January 11th, 1964, that the Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee released their first report on smoking that we started paying attention to the toll it was taking on our bodies. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) writes that this first report found that smoking is “a cause of lung cancer and laryngeal cancer in men. A probable cause of lung cancer in women. The most important cause of chronic bronchitis.”

By now, we’ve all also heard of secondhand smoke, which can be just as harmful and deadly as smoking, but recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) did research on third hand smoke, which is the “harmful toxins that remain in places where people have smoked previously.” You can find third hand smoke in the paint on your walls, the fibers of your carpet, and even the fabric of your couch and linens.

You should purify air from smoke in your home as well as purge it from the walls and contents to minimize the risks of breathing third hand smoke. Whether you’ve moved into the home of a previous smoker, or you just quit the habit yourself, when you purify air from smoke you’re giving your home and occupants a fresh start.


The simplest thing you can do to purify air from smoke in your home is just opening windows. Letting in a cool breeze will help whisk away some of the smell and bring badly needed fresh air into the home. This can provide some immediate relief for rooms with a stronger presence of smoke in the air. Unfortunately, it’s not practical year-round. If the weather is too hot or cold to open the windows all day, you can try only opening them for little bursts at a time. If you can withstand a little chill or sweat, then short openings could be the answer in midwinter and midsummer.

A separate way of circulating air is by using fans in conjunction with open windows. If you wedge a backward facing box fan into an open window, you will suck up the smoke-filled air inside the home, and push it outside.


Air purifiers are fantastic ways to reduce the smoke odor in the home. They can come with a little bit of a price tag but are a great investment if you suffer from tobacco smoke. You will need the kind specifically designed with tobacco smoke in mind, which will come with a HEPA filter and activated charcoal filter. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters force the air through a fine mesh to trap particulates from allergens and tobacco smoke. Charcoal treated with oxygen, known as activated charcoal, has increased surface area and bonding ability. An activated charcoal filter reduces the tobacco smell by capturing and bonding with the odor.

An example of an air purifier that will effectively purify air from smoke in your home, without emptying your bank account, is the GermGuardian 3-in-1 True HEPA Air Purifier with UV Sanitizer and Odor Reduction, 22 in. Tower (Home Depot for $99.99 with free shipping).

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If you leave nicotine and smoke residue coating the walls, carpets, and furniture, you are inviting the odor to return even after following the other purification steps. This is obviously not ideal and needs rectification.

To clean residue from carpets, you’ll need a large box of baking soda and a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Baking soda is a well-known odor eater and is typically found in refrigerators. Sprinkle baking soda, like Arm & Hammer Extra Strength Carpet Odor Eliminator (Walmart for $1.48), over the entire carpet and then let it sit overnight, allowing it to soak up as much of the odor in the carpet fibers as it can. In the morning, use your HEPA filter enabled a vacuum to pick up the baking soda. If this technique doesn’t seem to be cutting it, you can also rent a steam cleaner or hire a professional carpet cleaning company.

For cleaning residue off walls, there is a simple concoction you can make from supplies you probably already have.

  • Mix ¼ cup baking soda
  • 1 cup ammonia and ½ cup vinegar in a gallon bucket full of hot water.
  • Using a sponge, scrub the mixture down all the walls from top to bottom. This will remove both the nicotine stain and the odor.

There are a couple of options for cleaning the residue off fabrics. If the fabrics can be thrown in the washing machine, then adding a cup of vinegar to the washing water can help eliminate the tobacco odor. Alternatively, you can use a specialized detergent like Tide Plus with Febreze Laundry Detergent (Walmart for $14.09).

Febreze is an excellent product to have in your cleaning supplies cabinet. It can combat the stubbornest of odors and leave you with a fresh scent. Utilize it by spraying down furniture and fabrics that can’t be thrown in the wash.


A thorough air duct cleaning helps purify smoke from air by removing the nicotine odors and particulates from your HVAC system. You will want to make sure you find a company that uses the National Air Duct Cleaner’s Association’s (NADCA’s) preferred process of cleaning. They will hook into your main trunk line with a negative air machine using a HEPA filter, and go down all your vents and returns with a high-pressured air whip. The air whip agitates the dirt, debris and particulates caught inside your duct work, and pushes them down to the main trunk line where they are sucked out by the negative air machine. You also want to make sure you’re changing the filters in your returns at regular intervals.

More info? For more information about indoor air pollutants, check out our other post: MOST COMMON INDOOR AIR POLLUTANTS

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