Good Duplex Short Sale, but REEKS of cigarette smoke!

12 Replies

Hey fellow BP'ers...

I've done some rehab work, but never cigarette smoke.

I have the potential for a VERY nice short sale deal on a duplex in a decent neighborhood.  It will need much rehab to begin with, but it's been smoked in for YEARS.  In all of my other units, I prohibit smoking (and cats) for the sake of unpleasant odors and allergens, etc...

How tough is it to remove smoke smell?  What considerations should I be taking aside from the obvious (carpet, curtains, wall paper removal, vent cleanings, etc...).  Is it possible to be rid of the stench?


1000 years ago, when I was less than poor, I could only afford the car that was soaked in cigar fumes.

It took me two bottles of Febreeze, but that car smelled like a brand new car after two bottles. I think they run about $4? I would soak the interior, then leave all doors open to let dry. I don't know what is in that bottle, but it works just like it is advertised. It took me two bottles because the care was that bad.

When my Aunt and Uncle would come to visit, they would smoke in our house. My parents would set dishes of vinegar and clumps of charcoal around the house after they left, and it didn't take long to soak up the smoke. 

I think you hit everything else - remove carpet, curtains, clean the vents. Killz brand primer/sealer on all the walls, then paint like normal. Scrub the walls first, to remove as much nicotine as possible. Good luck!

Kilz walls and ceilings.  Also, fire restoration companies have a machine that will pull the odor out.  They close up the unit and run the machine for 48 hours and it takes care of the odor.  I used ServPro but I'm sure there are others that have similar machines.  Very affordable as well.  

@Drew Wiard  this may be something an ozone generator would take care of

hi @Drew Wiard

I had the same problem when I bought one of my properties. When we looked at it prior to buying there was no hint of smell. After closing and going back we noticed a smell that we didn't encounter before. Short of it is, we thing they sprayed and dodo something else to mask the order so they could sell. I've heard of this before with tenants that smoke and are not supposed to and use deceptive tactics when there is an inspection coming up.

Anyway, I had ozone treatments done 3-4 times and it didn't work. The company guaranteed this method over all others and didn't charge me for the additional treatments since I told them after the 1st and 2nd that the smell was still lingering. They agreed as they too could still smell the smoke.

I washed the fans had the place painted and the carpet cleaned washed down the wood doors and base boards to no avail all before the ozone.

I found a product called Vamoose on Amazon for $35-40 that was a gallon container. It worked wonders on removing the odor. I sprayed and cleaned the windows, base boards, air intake vents....their instructions are very simple to follow.

@Drew Wiard

Autocorrect is not my friend...


"Short of it is, we think they sprayed air spray and did something else to mask the ordor so they could sell"

I've dealt with this issue twice. All new carpet, coated all of the walls AND the subfloors with three coats of KILLZ oil based primer. Both houses reeked of KILLZ for about a week, but when that subsided, the smoke smell was gone. Best of luck!

Originally posted by @Corby Goade :

I've dealt with this issue twice. All new carpet, coated all of the walls AND the subfloors with three coats of KILLZ oil based primer. Both houses reeked of KILLZ for about a week, but when that subsided, the smoke smell was gone. Best of luck!

 I did the same with KILLZ 2 the latex water based product. I did this to avoid using oil based product in my sprayer, either one will work great.

We just gutted one that had been smoked in for 4 years & it was literally putrid. The mold encrusted bathroom was equally as bad so I tore it out completely & enlarged it. 

We had inherited the tenants but they paid the rent on time, all the time & it was just a matter of time before we were to evict them. But as fate has it they just slinked away one night leaving their last month & security. I believe social services are after them???

The tar/residue was so thick on the vinyl window frames it had to be scrapped off then scrubbed. We oil base Kilz'd EVERYTHING, removed all the floor coverings & it was an amazing transformation & absolutely NO ODOR. Biggest problem was one popcorn bedroom ceiling that took several coats of oil Kilz to eliminate the ever seeping tar residue.

The mattress on the floor did protect some of the original carpeting.

The original 'speculator beige' paint (in the bedroom) surrounded with a nuance of 'eau de tar' residue ...

But in all fairness it wasn't all cigarette smoke!!!!!!

That same room ... AFTER the cleanup!!! 

This may be obvious, but be sure to clean the glass on all the windows. I have a friend who always thought the windows in his office were tinted. Then he went to clean them one day and found out that they were just coated in years of smoke and tar.

Yep, replace carpets/pads of course, clean all walls, latex primer is okay, lemon vinegar in dishes.

I used latex primer and had lingering smoke odor, but I didn't realize how bad the smoke was until running the hvac.  I put a big block of Kleanaire? Gel odor absorber in the return air vent and that helped.  I think oil primer is the safest bet...but my odor may have been entirely from the indoor hvac coil.  I cleaned the walls and scraped popcorn from the ceiling...and all flooring was removed by previous owner so must have been horrid...we removed baseboards.  I just used bleach on the concrete floor and maybe primer/sealer.  house had pet, mold and smoke odors..just the smoke lingered.

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