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Maybe someone here knows, or at least can point me in the right direction. My husband and I recently bought his parent's house, they were both smokers for 50 plus years, in the house. Needless to say, the house reeks of cigarettes. I am in the process of getting estimates for getting it deodorized however I'm getting conflicting information from all of these companies.

Two different companies I spoke with don't use Ozone, a common method used to get rid of nasty odors. One of the guys even said if it was 7 years ago he may have used it, but it doesn't work the same as the treatments they use now, which is some type of cleaning/ fogging system. Tbh I'm not exactly sure. Both also said that ozone can't break down the molecule effectively and within a couple of years the smell comes back. Which obviously I don't want. BUT...

I've also had two different companies tell me that ozone is the best there is and they wouldn't trust someone who didn't use ozone. And that ozone does break down the nicotine particles effectively. And when I look it up, everything points to ozone being the thing people use. I was even able to find a peer reviewed study of the effectiveness of ozone, but they only used 48 hours of cigarette smoke, not 50 plus years!

Everyone I've spoken with has been very nice and helpful, but I don't know which is true. Does anyone have experience with this? Or insight? I have a 3 year old, and honestly I do not want to make such a big financial decision only to have the smell return in a year or two. Any help would be much appreciated.

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  • If those two companies don't use ozone, they may be using hydroxl. The latter can be more effective. Can you ask them? Jan 4 at 14:47
  • If it were me, I wouldn't even consider buying a house that had heavy smoker usage in it for 50 years. Too many places for the odors to stick to (including in all internal HVAC duct work, furnace, light fixtures, flooring, walls, ceilings, etc. that are almost impossible to clean effectively to remove all smoke remnants. Maybe a house that had fire smoke damage, but certainly not one that had smokers in it for that length of time.
    – Milwrdfan
    Jan 4 at 15:39

2 Answers 2

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Probably both systems work well.

There are two ways to go here.

  • Make sure you have a contract and pay half, 6 months after treatment (I doubt that they will agree to it)
  • Ask to speak to two of their previous clients, who will let you visit their place. If they are doing a wonderful job, their past clients will be more than happy to let you have a smell.
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As you state, the odor soaks into porous materials as well as it clings to surfaces. There is no magic ingredient that penetrates all objects and completely destroys the odorants inside them, without destroying the object. Ozone can react with odorants, but rather than removing the odor, it can actually make the it worse. Baking soda

Treat each object individually.

  • For hard surfaces, such as painted walls and ceilings, hard floors, cabinets and countertops, wash with strong detergent, with a bit of solvent-based cleaner, such as Lestoil, added. Expect it may remove some paint. Don't miss insides and undersides of cabinets and counters. Dry. Repeat until a white cleaning cloth comes away unstained after cleaning.
  • Clean appliances and behind and underneath them, such as stoves and refrigerators.
  • Clean trim, such as ceiling lamps, outlet and switch covers. Remove carefully, clean and replace.
  • Repaint painted surfaces to seal in any remaining odorants.
  • Reseal wood floors, cabinets and counters.
  • Clean the heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems thoroughly, as above. It might be easier to have HVAC professionals clean the ducts, and particularly the maze of the air conditioning evaporator tubing. Change filters.
  • Absorbent surfaces such as carpet may never completely lose the tobacco stench. Though you can try repeated steam cleaning and shampooing, it might be more practical to replace carpeting and underlayer.
  • Personally, I'd forget about keeping any furniture.

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