Does your House Smell like Cigarette Smoke?

Author: Kristina Bradley

A recent survey of 401 Ontario real estate agents and brokers found that most agree that it is more difficult to sell a home where owners have smoked.

The survey estimates a potential loss of up to $107,000 on a home in Ontario, where the average price is currently around $369,000–or a whopping 29% loss of value.

The study found that 27% of buyers refuse to buy a home where people have smoked and more than half of respondents, 56%, said they would be less likely to purchase a home where people have smoked.

In Canada, an estimated 15% of homes have at least one regular smoker.

Of the 44% of respondents who said smoking in the home affects resale value, one-in-three said smoking in the home may lower the value by 10 to 19% and a further one-in-three said it may lower the value by 20-29%.

While not smoking in the home is the best way to avoid devaluing your resale value, here are some tips if your home already smells like cigarette smoke:

  • Open windows and turn on fans. Ventilation is the first step in removing or diluting any household odor.
  • Dampen a dish towel with vinegar and wave it around the room for a minute or two.
  • Wash and disinfect all interior walls and hard surfaces with mild soap or other appropriate cleaning solutions or products, and rinse thoroughly. Don’t forget to clean inside cabinets, drawers and closets.
  • Steam-clean upholstery using special deodorizing shampoos.
  • Set small bowls of vinegar around the house. Similarly, set bowls filled with kitty litter or baking soda throughout the home to help absorb odors.
  • Repaint surfaces to trap odor (although it may be possible for odors to gradually seep through paint barriers). A matte finish polyurethane sealant will provide good odor protection without altering the sheen of the newly repainted wall.
  • Remove carpeting, as it is nearly impossible to remove smoke particles from it. Thoroughly scrub the flooring beneath before installing new carpet. If the carpet cannot be replaced, have it professionally cleaned.
  • Soak blinds in a bathtub full of all-purpose cleanser, scrub thoroughly and hang to dry.
  • Replace curtains or have them professionally cleaned.
  • Clean or change light bulbs. In the same way that some scent diffusers rely on heat from light bulbs to disperse the aroma of the scented oil, the oily residue from nicotine and other cigarette byproducts can be dispersed throughout your living space.
  • Wash windows. The heat that comes from sunshine can warm smoke-covered windows and disperse the smell throughout your house.
  • Use a dry chemical sponge (also known as a dry cleaning sponge or soot sponge) to remove smoke residue from ceiling tiles, lampshades and other materials that can’t get wet.
  • Replace heating and air filters, as they tend to harbor cigarette odors and other irritants.
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