It's an unfortunate truth every landlord eventually encounters: tenants smoke in rentals, even if it's explicitly banned. And even if they don't smoke inside the rental, smoke tends to cling to clothing and hair, infiltrating the unit.


If you've found that your rental property used to house a smoker, you may need to engage in some deep cleaning before the next tenants move in. Here's a step-by-step guide to dealing with the problem.

Professionally Clean Cloth, Padding, and Upholstery

Begin by cleaning carpets, drapery, and upholstery within the unit; these are going to be the major sources of odor. You may need to replace furnishings if the apartment was furnished, but it's worth it to try professional upholstery cleaning first. Most professional upholstery cleaning services will be able to recover cloth items, with a combination of equipment and cleaning solutions.


Without a professional cleaning, the smell may linger inside of the property. You can clean it yourself, but you'll find the smell returning again and again. For carpets, the smell will be inside of the carpet padding—no amount of vacuuming is likely to help.

Strip Off Wallpaper and Put in Fresh Paint

Often, the smoke smell can be within the walls themselves. Strip off any existing wallpaper and put up fresh wallpaper (or fresh paint) to get rid of any surface odor. Smoke is greasy and sticks to surfaces, which is why it can be difficult to get the smell out.


In areas where you can't paint or put up wallpaper, such as exposed brick, you may want to invest in a professional washing. Power washing can be used on brick, tile, and grout, even inside.

Place Deodorizing Materials in the Property

You don't want to use air fresheners because they’re only going to cover the scent. The air freshener may last twelve hours, while the smoke smell can linger for months. Instead, you want products specifically designed to deodorize. This includes sprays and products, such as "activated charcoal."


If the smell is very strong, you may need to let the property recover for at least a few days. But this needs to happen after a professional cleaning, or the cause of the odor will still be there.

Air Out the Entirety of the Property

For a particularly bad situation, you'll need to air the property out. Using circulating fans and open windows, you can push out any stale air. This has to come after properly cleaning out the property; otherwise the smoke smell is still going to come from the layer of grease and residue left inside.

Replace the Filters and Clean the Ducts

If the smell persists, it's possible that the ducts of your apartment or home need to be cleaned. The HVAC filters almost certainly need to be cleaned. Hire a professional HVAC maintenance company to clean out the ducts and replace filters.


While it can take some time to recover a property after a smoking tenant, it's still possible. You just need to work with a professional. Recovering from a smoking tenant is very similar to a fire restoration: the smoke gets everywhere and can pervade the entirety of the unit. Contact the experts at CCS Cleaning and restoration to get started.