living room filled with smoke

Clearing out smoke and its odors is an essential skill everyone should learn. You never know when you may need it.

If you’re a smoker, the reason for knowing how to do this is obvious, but there are also other situations why it’s important.

Such as an unexpected fire, burnt food, or a poorly ventilated fireplace that may require your immediate attention to get rid of smoke indoors.

So in this guide, we’re going to outline several tips for how to clear out smoke (like a dedicated air purifier for second hand smoke) as well as ways to mask the smell if those methods are not working for you.

How to Clear Smoke Out of a Room

Eliminate the Smoke Source

The first step to removing smoke smell in a room is to identify the source and remove it.

If a cooking mishap caused it, scrape the pans, remove the burnt debris, wash the pans, and take the garbage out.

If smoke came from tobacco, then you’ll want to dump out any ashtrays, wash them, and dispose of the garbage as well.

Open Doors and Windows to Clear Out Smoke

The next thing you want to do after a smoky disaster is to open as many doors and windows as possible.

If you’re limited by how many windows and doors you can open, try to open at least one of each on opposite ends of the house. Doing this works to create a cross breeze.

The cross breeze will help suck the smoke out of your home and dispose of it outside.

Put a Box Fan in the Window

If you don’t have enough of a breeze going to get rid of the smoke smell or you can’t open doors or windows on the opposite side of the home, you can use a box fan to generate a similar effect.

Put the fan on the inside edge of your window and face it so the air is blowing outside when switched on.

This will draw the smoke out of the room so it doesn’t infiltrate other areas of the house.

Use an Air Purifier to Get Smoke Out

Want to know how to filter smoke from air without putting in much effort?

Get an air purifier.

Air purifiers that use a HEPA filter and an Activated Carbon filter can remove the visible smoke particles and neutralize smoke odors much quicker than the other tips on this list.

These machines clean the air by continuously cycling it through the filters, trapping the pollutants, and then releasing cleaned air back into the room.

If you’re a smoker or live with one, then you’ll benefit greatly by having an air purifier in your home.

The best air purifier for second hand smoke models can keep the air fresh even while someone continues to smoke inside a room.

These machines are so powerful against tobacco odors that many cigar shops even use them to extract the visible smoke particles and odors from their establishments.

Check out our best air purifier for smoke reviews to find the one that’s right for your home.

See all of Amazon's Best Selling Air Purifiers

Soak a Towel in Water in Vinegar

This is a simple tip for how to remove smoke from room when you don’t have many windows to open or you don’t have an air purifier or box fan handy.

Get a towel and soak it in a mixture of water and vinegar.

Then, wring it out as much as you can. Take the towel and swing it in a circular motion over your head to encourage the smoke to go out the nearest window or door.

The vinegar mixture on the towel will also help to soak up any lingering smoke odor in the air.

How to Mask Smoke Smell

If the tips above for how to filter smoke from a room are not working or you’re just short on time, you can always try to mask the odor.

Also, if a room has been smoked in or the odor left too long before being attended to, it can get deep into the carpeting, fabrics, and wood.

If that’s the case, masking the smell is good option.

Spray Aerosol Air Fresheners to Mask Smoke Odor

Aerosol air fresheners come in various scents.

You can spray them around your home to effectively mask any unpleasant smells you may encounter.

You can also spray them several times a day if you’d like, but just remember not to spray too much and overwhelm the room with the scent.

Boil Lemons to Mask the Smell of Smoke

Lemons have natural oils that mask smoky odors.

Start by filling a quart pot with water.

Add one or two sliced lemons to this water and bring it to a rapid boil.

Reduce the heat to a slow simmer, and let the lemons and water simmer for 30 minutes.

Let it cool, discard the lemons, and get rid of the water at the end of 30 minutes.

Combine Bread and Vinegar to Remove Smoke Smell

If the smoky smell persists after you’ve tried the lemon and water, try bread.

Take a small bowl and fill it with white vinegar.

Add a piece of bread to the vinegar and stick the bowl in the smoky room.

The smoke will absorb into the bread. You can then throw it away. 

Try Vanilla Extract

If you don’t like vinegar, try vanilla extract.

Add vanilla extract to a small bowl and saturate a few cotton balls.

Set these cotton balls around your smoky room for a few hours.

You can throw them away after a few hours, and you shouldn’t have any more smoky odor. 

Use an Essential Oil Diffuser

You can buy an essential oil diffuser at a store with several essential oils you like.

Set it up in the smoky room, add water to the reservoir, add a few drops of your chosen essential oil, and switch it on.

The diffuser will disperse the oils into the air to eliminate the smoke.

How Smoke Can Negatively Impact You, Your Family, and Your Home

Even if smoke is not billowing around your home, that doesn’t mean it won’t impact you. While smoke can truly affect anyone, some people who are more at risk include pregnant women, older adults, those with heart or lung disease or diabetes, and children and teenagers. 

Here are just a handful of ways a variety of smoke can affect your health: 

  • Third-hand smoke from cigarettes is dangerous as the lingering chemicals can still raise your chance of getting cancer and asthma. 
  • Smoke from fires emits fine particles which can penetrate your lungs, causing a range of symptoms from burning eyes to chromic heart and lung diseases. 
  • Smoke from food may not seem like a huge deal, but charred particles of food can cause infections and inflammation.
  • If there is a lot of third-hand smoke in your home, children can even die from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.

Bottom Line

We hope these tips for how to clear smoke out of a room and mask smoke odor have given you a solid set of tools to pull from the next time a smokey issue pops up inside your home.

As we mentioned above, an air purifier is a great machine to have in your home because it constantly works to clean the air and deodorize odors.

If you use one of the best air purifier for second hand smoke models on a daily basis, you can often rely less on the other methods outlined on this page since it’s working to keep your home fresh 24 hours a day.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible that smelling smoke is from a health condition?

Possibly. If you think you are smelling smoke that is not there, it could be from phantosmia. Phantosmia is an olfactory hallucination and it is most often caused by sinus issues like the common cold, allergies, or sinus infections. It can also be a result of migraines, dental problems, or radiation treatment for throat or brain cancer. Less common reasons can be a head injury, stroke, or a brain tumor. If you think it might be caused by a less common problem, it is best to consult a doctor. 

Do air conditioners filter out smoke?

While air conditioners are not air filters, they do have the ability to get rid of some smoke thanks to them having a filter. However they are not as effective as other forms of air cleaners for smoke nor do they remove smoke from curtains, clothing, and other items. 

Do air purifiers filter out smoke? 

They can, depending on the kind of air purifier you purchase. As mentioned earlier, a carbon filter can really help take the smoke particles out of the air. Keep in mind that air purifiers do not take smoke out of furniture and similar pieces. 

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About Katherine Dyson

Katherine is the lead Staff Writer. She conducts in-depth research and interviews with industry experts in order to produce a wide range of content for the site. Her main role is to write helpful articles that aid people who are seeking to improve their indoor air quality and comfort. (See Full Bio)