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How to Remove Tobacco Smoke Odor from Buildings

Smoke odor from cigars and cigarettes can be particularly stubborn and difficult to treat. The longer a person smokes indoors, the more pungent the odor problem. The smoke will permeate or seep into all porous materials such as carpet, padding, furniture, walls, wallpaper, and even wood, leaving a lingering odor long after the smoker has left the building.

Initial Tobacco Odor Suppression

  1. Place an air scrubber with carbon filters centrally within the area to be cleaned.
  2. If the HVAC system is currently operating, place Fresh Wave IAQ Gel in the plenum to start neutralizing the odor.
  3. Treat all water-safe surfaces with either Fresh Wave IAQ Air and Surface Spray or OdorX Tabac-Attack. Following the directions on the label, dilute your odor counteractant of choice and direct spray all surfaces.


Cleaning / Secondary Tobacco Odor Suppression

  1. Clean all hard surfaces (walls, floors, ceilings, etc.) using a degreaser with either Fresh Wave IAQ Air and Surface Spray or OdorX Tabac-Attack added to your cleaning solution. Pay special attention to ceiling lights, globes, recessed lighting, etc, as these areas are often overlooked.
  2. Clean the carpet using Matrix Grand Slam Fragrance Free, Matrix Citrus Force ASD as a booster, and Fresh Wave IAQ Carpet and Upholstery Additive as a deep down odor remover. Follow label instructions for proper dilution.
  3. Follow the carpet cleaning with a fiber rinse using Matrix All Fiber Rince to assist with the removal of all cleaning solutions.
  4. Clean all windows and window coverings.


Final Tobacco Odor Removal

You may do any or all of the following methods to ensure total tobacco odor neutralization.

Method One: Thermal Fogging

Apply Thermo-55 TabacAttack using a thermal fogging device. Refer to product label for specific instructions.

Fogging Procedure

  1. Survey the area to determine the potential for exposure to sensitive individuals.
  2. Take special precautions to minimize exposure of potentially sensitive individuals.
  3. Be sure that application equipment is in good working order.
  4. Determine the volume of the room so that you will know how much Thermo-55 Tabac-Attack will be required to treat the area.
  5. Turn off pilot lights and eliminate ignition sources.
  6. Evacuate humans and pets from treatment area.
  7. Post “Do Not Enter” signs.
  8. Remove or protect food and eating utensils. Cover materials that may be potentially adversely affected by petroleum distillates.
  9. Issue respirators to application personnel.
  10. Best results are achieved when the temperature of area to be treated is above 55°F (13°C).
  11. Apply Thermo-55 at rate of 0.5-1.5 fluid ounces per one thousand cubic feet (15 to 45 mL per 28 cubic meters) of air space.
  12. Doors and windows should remain closed for 30 minutes after fogging.
  13. Ventilate the treatment area and be sure that surfaces are dry prior to re-entry or re-occupancy

Method Two: Non-Toxic Dry Vapor

Dry Vapor Procedure

  1. Position your FreshWave IAQ M130 Vapor System centrally in the location to be treated.
  2. Be sure that application equipment is in good working order.
  3. Determine the volume of the room so that you will know how much Fresh Wave IAQ air and surface will be required to treat the area.
  4. The M130 Vapor System and Fresh Wave IAQ are safe to use around people and pets. There is no need to evacuate the area while in use, so your crew can keep working.

Method Three: Hydroxyl/Ozone Generators

Use a Hydroxyl Generator or Ozone Generator to remove and lingering airborne odors. Ozone Generators work more efficiently at lower temperatures and lower relative humidity. Hydroxyl Generators will work more efficiently with a higher moisture content in the air.  If using ozone, all living things (plants, animals, and people) and all items that can be affected by ozone (ex: natural rubber)) must be removed from the area.


Sealing / Treating Lingering Tobacco Odors

Long-term smoking may leave a residue and lingering odor in a structure even after a complete cleaning and deodorization have taken place. In the event of such a situation, all walls and ceilings will need to be sealed using BIN Shellac Based-Primer and repainted.

If a small residual odor remains, you can place a Fresh Wave IAQ Gel container in the HVAC system to continually deodorize the area.

Clean and seal the HVAC system using UnSmoke UnSoot #1.



For assistance in alleviating a particularly difficult smoke odor situation, contact a Jon-Don Restoration Specialist at 800-400-9473.


Training Opportunity: Fire and Smoke Technician is a two-day seminar that will teach technicians job planning and execution, chemical and equipment requirements, structural cleaning, contents cleaning, as well as determining the job scope and estimating. 

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