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How to clear smoke out of a room

Updated on January 23, 2024
Written by
Marie Cookson
Based in Manchester, Marie is one of the writers at HouseFresh and our resident dust expert. She works together with our in-house researchers and our Managing Editor to produce in-depth articles offering practical advice on how to tackle indoor air quality issues.

Our verdict

Whether it’s tobacco, cooking or wildfires, smoke can infiltrate your room and it’s crucial to clear it as soon as possible. Once you’ve taken vulnerable people outside and identified the source, there are a few simple steps to get rid of the smoke. Alongside opening windows and doors, using an air purifier is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways.

Once the smoke has cleared, you then need to remove the smell. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces is super important. Equally, utilizing store cupboard staples like white vinegar and baking soda will also help to absorb and eliminate smoke odors.

When smoke permeates your room the fumes and smell can quickly become overpowering. Yet if you’re not quite sure how to get rid of it, you’re not alone. Luckily, we’ve got your back and have covered the most important steps to take. Spoiler alert: circulating fresh air and using an air purifier are two of the best methods.

You’ll also find tips on how to eliminate those smoky smells, from cleaning thoroughly to leaving bowls of vinegar or baking soda around the room. Be sure to keep reading to the end of the article, where you’ll find our top three recommendations for air purifiers that effectively remove smoke.

5-step guide to get smoke out of a room 

Step 1: Take vulnerable persons outside

Smoke can be particularly hazardous for children, elderly people, pregnant women, and anyone who suffers from breathing difficulties. It’s vital to ensure their safety and that the smoke doesn’t affect their breathing. Be sure to help them go outside the room (or the house if need be). 

Step 2: Identify and remove the smoke source

If you’re unsure where the smoke is coming from try not to worry. This can be easier said than done but it’s important to stay calm.

One of the most common sources is cooking. Here are three steps you need to follow:

  1. If your food is burning, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid as this will smother the flame. 
  2. Once the pans and burnt food have cooled, make sure you scrape and remove the debris and place it in the trash can. 
  3. Give the dishes a good wash and take the garbage to an outside receptacle. 

Be aware that it may be a grease fire if you can only see smoke (without a flame). Whatever you do, don’t pour water on it! In this instance, you can try adding some baking soda, as this will douse small grease fires. 

Tobacco is another common source of smoke in the home. Follow these two steps to remove the source: 

  1. Clean ashtrays and surfaces from old cigars and cigarette butts. 
  2. Dispose of cigarettes and cigars in the garbage outside, making sure they have been put out correctly.
  3. Always wash ashtrays thoroughly to remove remnants.

If it’s a smoking appliance, you need to unplug it and move any flammable materials far away from the device. Similarly, if it’s your fireplace, simply open the damper, as this should always be open when the fireplace is in use.

Step 3: Open windows and doors 

The next step is to get some fresh air into the room, so you need to open as many windows and doors as possible. Opening at least one of each on opposite ends of the room will help to create a cross breeze. This is one of the best ways to remove smoke, as the breeze will help suck the smoke from your room and push it outside.

The alarm may cause animals to panic and rush out of the room. Make sure you check where they are and that they’re okay first.

Step 4: Place a box fan in the window

While creating a cross breeze is ideal, this isn’t always possible if you can’t open windows or doors on the opposite side of the room. Luckily, another way to generate a similar effect is using a box fan

You can buy one of these from most hardware stores, and all you need to do is put it on the inside edge of your window. Then simply position the fan, so the air is blowing outside and turn it on. The spinning blades will suck in the smoke and disperse it outside rather than infiltrating other areas of your room.

Step 6: Soak a towel in water and vinegar

If you’re struggling to get much ventilation going, this simple trick can help. Grab a towel and soak it in a mixture of water and vinegar, then squeeze and wring out all the excess liquid. Using circular motions, swing the towel around above your head and try to direct the smoke out of the nearest window or door. Another bonus of this trick is that the vinegar will help to absorb and soak up smoke odors.

Step 5: Use an air purifier 

While all the tips we’ve covered so far are important, an air purifier is definitely one of the best ways to get rid of the smoke. These devices clean the air by passing it through filters that capture various pollutants. Clean, purified air is then released back into your room.

Be sure to use one with a HEPA filter, as this will trap the greatest amount of smoke particles. Similarly, look for a unit with an activated carbon filter to neutralize and remove smoke odors.


If you need further guidance, check out our articles on the best purifiers for cigarette smoke, wildfire smoke and other types of smoke, such as weed.

How to get rid of smoke smells 

1. Wash surfaces and walls 

For extensive smoke smells, such as those caused by wildfires, it’s important to clean and scrub all surfaces and interior walls and ceilings. Due to their large surface areas, smoke odors can remain in walls and ceilings in particular. Use a mild soap or other appropriate cleaning product and rinse thoroughly. Remember to clean inside cabinets, drawers and closets, too.

2. Wipe down furniture and floors with vinegar

White vinegar is one of the best odor-neutralizers due to its acetic acid content. The vinegar effectively eliminates odors naturally, and you can use it to wipe down furniture and floors. After following the tip above, you could also try it on walls.

If you can still detect smoke odors, another clever hack is to place several bowls of vinegar around the room and leave them for a few days. The smell of vinegar can be quite strong, however, so you could mix in some lavender oil to reduce the vinegary scent.

3. Disinfect upholstery and carpets 

As with furniture and surfaces, it’s also important to disinfect your upholstery fabrics and carpets. For fabrics, you can use good old vinegar again. Just fill an empty spray bottle with one cup of vinegar to two cups of water, then spray the solution onto your upholstered furniture. Make sure to spray cushions and the backings of furniture as well because smells can linger here.

Use steam or other appropriate equipment to disinfect carpets (window coverings and even mattresses).

4. Launder or dry clean your clothing

Smoke odors can cling to items of clothing, so it’s important to clean them thoroughly. Vinegar will come in handy here, too: simply add one cup to your usual detergent in the wash cycle. 

Remember that it may take more than one wash to eliminate the smell. Also, if you use a dryer before all smoke odors have been removed, you could set the smell in the clothing. Continue washing using the same process until the odor has gone. 

5. Clean household and personal items

Some of the fine smoke particles might have affected your household items, like picture frames, decorations, and knick-knacks. Always wipe down such items using a damp cloth, as this will be most effective at removing particles and, therefore, odors.

6. Grab some baking soda

Baking soda is another fantastic and natural odor-absorber. Like with vinegar, you can place some in several bowls and leave them around your room for a few days. Or it can also be used directly as a cleaning agent. For example, sprinkle the soda over upholstered furniture, let it sit for a couple of hours and then use a vacuum or upholstery cleaner to remove it.

7. Use activated charcoal

A natural detoxifying agent, charcoal is also great for eliminating odors. Like with vinegar and baking soda, you can place some of the powdered variety in bowls around your room, and this should help absorb smoke smells. Another tip is to make charcoal bags: take some lightweight cotton, put a couple of teaspoons of charcoal inside, gather the edges together and tie them with string or ribbon. You can then hang the bags in different areas of your room.

8. Utilize coffee grounds

Another simple and cheap way to get rid of smoke smells is to place bowls of coffee grounds around your room. Similar to charcoal, coffee can help to absorb and remove smoke odors due to its nitrogen content. 

9. Add vanilla extract 

If you’re not too keen on the smell of coffee, however, try placing a few drops of vanilla extract onto cotton balls. Leaving them in a smoky room for a day or so should help to soak up the odors, particularly cigarette smoke. You can add the extract to a wet sponge or cloth and wipe down surfaces.

10. Get an air purifier

Investing in an air purifier with HEPA and activated carbon filtration can help you get rid of smoke smells (and the harmful pollutants too), leaving your home feeling fresh.

Here at HouseFresh, we’ve tested many air purifiers on their ability to remove smoke and have uncovered the most powerful units for different budgets. Check out our top recommendations below.

  • Best overall: Levoit EverestAir – This is the fastest air purifier we have tested, but it comes with a hefty price tag. An excellent option for those with spaces as large as 558 sq. ft. who care about smart functionalities (such as auto-mode and smartphone connectivity) and want a stylish design. Now, if your budget doesn’t stretch past the $300, then you should look into the Core 600S instead as it’s equally at fast and it covers spaces as large as 635 sq. ft.
  • Best smart option: Mila Air Purifier – Now, if you really REALLY care about smart functionalities, you need to look into the Mila. This is the smartest air purifier on the market right now, and paired with a strong filter such as the Home Wrecker; you will have an air purifier that can tackle smoke pollutants and the associated smells.
  • Best for small rooms and tight budgetsLevoit Core 300S – Another Levoit unit, but this time one that won’t cost more than $150 but will be able to clean smoke out of smaller rooms of up to 219 sq. ft. If you don’t care about smart features such as auto-mode, you should look into the Core 300, which will give you a nearly identical air cleaning performance for $50 less.
  • Best long-term investment for those who struggle with smoke on a regular basis: IQAir HealthPro Plus – This air purifier lacks modern smart features, but it is the best unit on the list for removing persistent smoke and its smell.It comes with a 10-year warranty and a powerful HyperHEPA filter supercharged with large amounts of activated carbon.

Final thoughts

Most of us have experienced the adverse effects of a smoke-filled room. Fortunately, there are lots of things you can do to clear the smoke quickly and safely. Always help vulnerable people outside before identifying and removing the source, opening windows and doors, and turning on an air purifier. You can also effectively remove the smell of smoke by cleaning walls, furniture, floors, and upholstery. And don’t forget that white vinegar and baking soda are two key ingredients that help absorb and eradicate smoke odors.


About the author

Marie Cookson

Based in Manchester, Marie is one of the writers at HouseFresh and our resident dust expert. She works together with our in-house researchers and our Managing Editor to produce in-depth articles offering practical advice on how to tackle indoor air quality issues.