Why Does My House Smell Like Cigarette Smoke? (We Don't Smoke)

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

There is no worse smell for a non-smoker than the stench of cigarette smoke. The worst-case scenario is that your house smells like cigarette smoke when you’re not even a smoker. So, why does my house smell like cigarette smoke?

Your house can smell like cigarette smoke if the previous homeowner was a smoker. Change your air filter if you or another resident used to smoke cigarettes in the house. Otherwise, old furniture that belonged to a smoker or poor door and window seals near a smoking neighbor can make the house smell like cigarette smoke.

It could also indicate that there is a secret smoker in the house if your home smells like cigarette smoke. The smell is strong, lingers, and clings to furniture and fabric. Follow along as we explore why your house smells like cigarette smoke.

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Why Does My House Smell Like Cigarette Smoke?

It can be difficult to determine why your house smells like cigarette smoke if you aren’t a smoker. The smell is off-putting and can make it difficult to sell your home later on. Luckily, several clear reasons explain why your house smells like cigarette smoke.

Old Furniture

Cigarette smoke can stain the fabric in old furniture and cause your house to smell. This is common for homeowners that thrift old furniture even if nobody has ever smoked in the house. You can tell that this is why your house smells like cigarette smoke if you recently purchased old furniture.

Clean your old furniture with an odor disinfectant and warm water. Several products can remove the smell of cigarette smoke, such as Aera Good Riddance and Ozone. However, you mustn’t oversaturate the furniture or you may damage it or cause mold to grow.

Previous Homeowner

Your house can smell like cigarette smoke when you aren’t a smoker if the previous homeowner was. It is difficult to remove nicotine stains from the walls and the odor can linger for a while. The smell of cigarette smoke from a previous homeowner is tough to eliminate, especially if you have carpeting.

Cigarette smoke odors can become stronger at random when there is a draft or the AC turns on. It is difficult to sell a home that smells like cigarette smoke because of how difficult it is to eliminate. Your best bet is to use smoke odor diffusers throughout the house and open widows until the smell is gone.


Your house can easily smell like cigarettes if you have neighbors that smoke tobacco. Close your windows when your neighbors smoke outside so that the house doesn’t smell like cigarettes. However, your house can smell like cigarette smoke if you have poor window and door seals.

You can politely ask that your neighbors don’t smoke cigarettes near your door or window. This may not work because it is their property and they are entitled to smoke even though it affects your home. Otherwise, you can simply reseal your doors and windows so your home doesn’t smell like cigarette smoke.

Dirty Air Filter

A dirty air filter can retain the smell of cigarette smoke until you replace it. If you or a previous resident used to smoke in the house, the odor can stay within the air filter. This can happen even if you remove the smell from the walls and carpet.

The smell of cigarette smoke can circulate throughout the house every time the air conditioner turns on. You should replace your air filter if it smells like cigarette smoke when you run the AC. Replace your air filter every 3-4 months to avoid bad smells and increase your HVAC system’s function.

Secret Smoker

Sadly, there may be a secret smoker in your house if it smells like cigarette smoke. You can tell that this is the case when your home suddenly smells like cigarette smoke when it previously never did. This is a common explanation for homeowners that have teenagers.

You can easily discover the culprit if you walk through the house and locate where the odor is strongest. A house smells like cigarette smoke even if someone exhales out of an open window. It may be uncomfortable, but you will likely need to confront the secret smoker and explain why it is not to smoke in the house.

Can You Ask A Neighbor To Stop Smoking?

If you recently uncovered that the smell of smoke wafting around your house is due to a neighbor’s nasty habit, you might be tempted to ask them to stop smoking. Truthfully, this probably won’t work but it still may be worth a shot. If you do decide to ask them to quit (or at least relegate their smoking to a different part of the home), be tactful when doing it.

A better option would be to buy them a gift that can help filter out the cigarette smoke before it gets to your house, like an ionizer or a Smoke Buddy. It’s a more subtle, friendlier way to ask them to be a bit considerate while they indulge their vice…and it’s hard to say no to a gift of any type!

How To Tell If You Have Bad Air Sealing

If you’re wondering whether you’re getting a whiff of what your neighbor’s smoking, there’s a quick and easy way to figure out if you have bad air sealing. To find out what’s going on, do the following:

  • Grab some incense and light it outside. Try to place the incense at various points outside on your lawn, lighting each one. We suggest doing this on a day that is only slightly windy. If there’s too much wind, you might not be able to pick up on the scent as it could blow away too fast to remain concentrated.
  • Go inside and wait. Try to sniff around your place to see if you smell the incense from outside. It may take 15 to 20 minutes before you smell something. At times, it may even take multiple attempts before you are able to find a source of the smell.
  • Once you smell it, try to pinpoint where the scent is coming from. Is it coming from the vents? Maybe it’s centered in a specific room, or near the window? Sometimes, being able to pinpoint the source can help you determine what part of your home you need to fix up.
  • If you cannot smell any incense after multiple attempts, chances are that the smell is coming from inside the house. That’s not the thing you want to hear, but it’s the truth. You might have a secret smoker in your midst!

Is Your Home At Risk For Bad Air Sealing?

Having problems with sealing your air from the outside is surprisingly common, and is one of the most common reasons why your home might smell of smoke despite being a nonsmoker. Most homes that were built before 2000 will have some kind of sealing issue, especially if your home has other issues alongside it.

Are There Any Ways To Prevent Smoke Smell In Your Home?

While there’s no foolproof way to prevent the smell of smoke in your house (aside from not smoking and not living near smokers), there are some devices that can help decrease the spread of smoke smell. One of the most popular is the Smoke Buddy, which allows the user to exhale smoke into a device that uses activated charcoal to neutralize the smell.

Another good option would be to grab a bottle of Febreze and hope for the best. After all, Smoke Buddies can only work for the smoke people exhale, not what actually gets emitted from the burning cigarette. To a point, your best prevention is to have a designated smoking area far away from your home.

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Related Questions

How do you neutralize the smell of smoke in your home?

The first thing you need to do is clean out any ashtrays and soft surfaces that have “caught” the scent of smoke pretty heavily, such as clothing. Open windows, turn on your fans. Then, grab some Febreze and start spraying wildly in the air. If your room is particularly smoke-filled, consider using baking soda to neutralize odors.To fully remove the smell of smoke, you may need to clean your walls with a specialty cleaner. However, this is a last resort and not the go-to in most cases.

How can you get smoke smell out of upholstery?

The best thing that you can do is to start by vacuuming the upholstery, then sprinkle baking soda throughout the upholstery surface. Leave the baking soda on for at least 15 minutes to half an hour, depending on the severity of the smell. If it’s really bad, leave the baking soda overnight. Then, use a vacuum to suck up the remnants in the morning. Finish off with a Febreze spray.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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