Eliminate Smoke Odor Source

The first step to eliminate cigarette smoke odor sources in your home has to be eliminating the source of the smoke.  Any work you do to clean the smell will be undone very quickly if the smoke odor is still coming into the house.  Here’s how to stop it.

Ban Smoking in Your Home

If anyone currently smokes in the home, have them stop immediately.  Smoke is extremely good at penetrating everything and leaving it’s odor behind for years to come.  In order to eliminate the smell, you absolutely need to eliminate the sources as a first step. This vital first step is a matter of removing the direct sources of smoke, and is the primary step to eliminate cigarette smoke odor sources.

Stop Smoking Completely

I’ll spare you a lengthy lecture here, but will say that I am an ex-smoker and quitting is one of the best things I’ve ever done. I’m much healthier, much happier, and it’s saved me a lot of money to boot. The only way to truly eliminate cigarette smoke odor sources is to stop smoking.

Consider e-Cigarette

If you don’t want quit smoking, consider switching to e-cigarettes, or ‘vaping’.   Vaping produces a lot less odor, and doesn’t produce the hard to remove tar which is the root of the cigarette smell problem. It also comes with far fewer health concerns, so might be a win-win.

Smoke Outside

If quitting completely is off the table, take it outside and away from the house.  Try to get at least 20 feet away from the house as smoke can very easily come in through windows and doors. Think about where the smoke is going, and pay attention to the wind.

As much as possible, smoke outside.  This gives the smoke more chance to dissipate into the air around you, meaning less will wind up in your clothing and hair.  If you smoke in a confined space, a lot of the smoke and smoke odor eventually comes back into the house with you.

Use an Air Filter

If you are smoking in a confined space, consider a filter to remove odor from the air.  I’ve written a bit more about air filters in our Smoke Removal Machines article.

Use a Smoke Buddy

A Smoke Buddy is much less expensive than an air filter, but a bit more hands-on to use. You exhale cigarette smoke through the Smoke Buddy, which filters and cleans the air. While this can be extremely helpful, it cannot fully filter the air. Furthermore, it is only filtering the air exhaled through it. Smoke leaving the cigarette does not get filtered.

A Smoke Buddy is not a full air filtration solution, but is helpful no matter what and costs less than $20.00, so might be well worth trying out.

Change Brands

Experiment with different brands.  Many people report much more or less odor with different brands of cigarettes.  Camel is commonly thought to have the strongest smell,  while American Spirits is said to produce the least amount of smell.

Cover Yourself

Your skin and clothes will absorb a lot less smoke if they are covered.  Take steps to cover yourself as much as possible. Any dedicated smoking clothes can be left outside. This will do a lot to eliminate cigarette smoke odor sources entering your home.

Shirt or Jacket

Wear a dedicated smoking shirt or jacket.  One of the original intent of a smoking jacket was to absorb cigarette odors and keep them from the other clothes you were wearing.  Whether you prefer a classic smoking jacket or something a little less formal, having some clothing dedicated to covering and protecting the rest of your clothes from the odor is a really good idea.  A hoodie you put on before lighting up and remove when done would certainly do the trick.


Along with a smoking coat, you may want a smoking cap or beanie.  If you have long hair, put it in a ponytail.  This will significantly reduce the amount of smoke getting into your hair, which means you are bringing a lot less odor back in with you.


Cover your hands before smoking.  What smoking jacket and hat combo is complete without a nice pair of smoking gloves?  Your hands, while holding cigarettes, gets the most exposure to the smoke and is the main point bringing the odor back in.  Covering it will prevent that.  Just make sure the gloves don’t come into the house with you!

Failing gloves, putting anything between your hand and cigarette will help a lot. Consider using a paper towel or napkin in your hand as you hold it.

Keep your non-smoking clothes clear, if possible

Along with dedicated smoking clothes, remove any extraneous clothes before smoking. If you are wearing multiple layers, remove as much of your clothes as you can (without being indecent) before going outside to smoke.  This completely removes those clothes from the problem.  For example, If you are wearing a sweatshirt, take it off and plan to replace it with a dedicated ‘smoking’ sweatshirt when you get outside.

Air Off

Air out before going back inside.  A few minutes of wait time after finishing a cigarette before going back inside allows for a lot of the smoke smell to dissipate.  Make sure you spend this time away from where you’ve just smoked, especially if that is a confined area.  If you have any routine outdoor chores, gardening,  or yard work, you might look for ways to break them into 10 minute sessions you can do with this time.  Alternatively you could have a game like horseshoes set up to occupy you for this time.

Clean Yourself on the way back Inside.

A little effort can go a long way to eliminate the odor if done quickly after smoking.


Wash your hands with soapy water after smoking but before coming back into the house if possible. Especially the hand you have help the cigarette with will smell of smoke, so be thorough.


Washing your face with soapy water will also help.  The area around your mouth and chin is exposed to a lot of smoke from cigarette smoking, and will smell strongly of cigarette smoke.  Scrubbing the area with soapy water can greatly reduce this.

Be Thorough

Wash as much as possible. Ideally a full shower and hair wash would remove the optimal amount of smoke odor, but that’s probably not feasible after every single cigarette. Instead, do as much as you can. If you are wearing short sleeves, scrub as far up your arms as you can with soapy water while doing to your hands.  Wipe your neck down as you wash your face. Do anything you can to clean and eliminate cigarette smoke odor sources from your person before going back indoors.


Brush your teeth.  Your entire mouth has just had a lot of smoke pass through it, and will be releasing the odor for some time to come.  A lot of people use gum and mints to cover up the smell, but remember that is just covering the smell up with a stronger smell rather than eliminating it.  A quick scrubbing with a toothbrush and a bit of toothpaste will go a long way to remove tar and smoke odor completely.  Besides helping with the odor, it should slow down the yellowing of your teeth associated with regular smoking.


Spray Febreeze on any clothes which have been directly exposed to the smoke.  I’ve suggested covering your shirt, but pants or shorts are often left exposed while smoking.  Spraying them with Febreeze can help lock the odor in.  It’s important that they not get wet, or the Febreeze will reactive and release the odors.

Eliminate Indoor Smoking Residue


Once the smoking is out of the house and away from windows and doors, make sure any other lingering primary sources of smoke smell have also been removed.  Get any cigarette butts or partially smoked cigars or cigarettes out of the house.  Any ashtrays which have been left behind in old smoking areas should be eliminated, as well as any trash cans or other receptacles which might contain cigarette butts.

Stay on Top of Laundry

With these steps complete, the primary source of new odor entering your home is likely to be the clothing of any smokers.  Do anything you can to combat this. While the direct smoke is gone, you need to think about indirect sources of smoke such as clothes when you try to eliminate cigarette smoke odor sources.

Wash clothes as quickly as possible.  Consider doing a small load nightly to keep the smokey clothes from spending too long in the home.

Store dirty clothes in a closeable receptacle, such as a lidded hamper, rather than somewhere open like a laundry basket. Anything that allows less air to circulate past the clothes will help. You may want to consider using an air sponge or other odor absorption solution as described on our Odor Absorption Techniques page with your clothes as well.