The smell of smoke is unpleasant in any enclosed space, but bathrooms, for whatever reason, are by far the worst. The odor of smoke is so pervasive that sometimes a simple ventilation system may be unable to get rid of it. And, if there are no windows in the bathroom, the lack of air circulation will make the smell even more daunting.
However, all is not lost. There are ways to remove the smoke smell from the bathroom, even when it feels like a smoker just left the toilet.
Before we jump to specific methods, let’s clarify first why smoke is more prone to linger in the bathroom than in other rooms in your house.
Why Does the Smoke Smell Linger in the Bathroom Longer?
Regardless of the smoke source, it will release smoke particles. The molecules comprising the smoke are sticky and can adhere to many different surfaces.
They can attach to furniture, ceilings, fans, hardwood floors, carpets, tiles — basically on anything.
However, bathrooms are different because there are higher moisture levels than in other rooms due to showering, flushing, or using the sink. Warm water, in particular, creates a very slowly evaporating moisture, which then creates a convenient environment for the smoke particles to stick to moist tiles, shower curtains, towels, clothes, and on bathroom appliances.
Getting the smoke smell out of the bathroom doesn’t require much hard work, but it’s very tedious. So, prepare an energizing playlist for this project, and arm yourself with patience, as sometimes, you’ll need to repeat the procedure several times until the smoke smell is gone forever.
How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Bathroom
As we said, eliminating the smoke smell from your bathroom is tedious but possible. And detecting a fresh scent is a real game changer in your overall bathroom experience. Showers will feel much more refreshing, and morning and nighttime routines will be much more enjoyable.
So far, you’ve maybe tried to get rid of the smoke smell with incense or scented candles, but we doubt that you were able to make any significant progress there. As soon as the pleasant fragrance from the candles wears off, the smoke smell in your bathroom will return.
The thing is, you don’t want to only mask the smell. You want to eliminate the lingering molecules, which calls for more work.
Before you start with tedious procedures, follow these steps:
- Remove the exhaust fan in your bathroom and give it a good wipe. You can wash it with white vinegar or dish soap detergent.
- Check the floor, corners, and the toilet paper bin for any leftover cigarette buds in case someone has sneaked in to smoke there.
- If there are any ashtrays, empty them, wash them thoroughly, and keep them away from the bathroom.
- If the cause of the smoke smell was a minor fire that took place in the bathroom, remove any fire-affected objects.
Air Out the Bathroom
The first step in getting smoke smell out of your bathroom is to make sure there’s a circulation of fresh air in the room. If you have windows, open them wide and keep them open during the cleaning.
For the airing out session, you can also turn on the ventilation or add a standing fan to help increase the air movement through the room.
Airing out of the bathroom should take at least an hour. This alone will make the bathroom feel fresher but won’t eliminate the smell.
After you’ve let fresh air in, you can proceed with the cleaning methods.
Vinegar Scrub Down
One of the oldest yet most effective cleaning solutions is white vinegar. However, it’s recommended to use the distilled version for odor removal.
It’s best applied when poured into a spray bottle, mixed with water (2:1 ratio), and sprayed over all surfaces. You can even spray your walls, mirrors, and any wooden surfaces with it. Let it sit for up to 20 minutes, then wipe it off with a damp cotton mop or towel.
Although vinegar has a very strong smell and can feel unpleasant, it completely evaporates within a few hours and leaves no smoke smell behind.
Another benefit to using white vinegar is that on top of its effectiveness and accessibility, it’s also one of the most budget-friendly ways to treat unwanted odors.
Vinegar is such a robust odor absorber that it will likely also absorb the smoke particles from the air.
Try Odor Absorbers
There are several home-based solutions for eliminating unpleasant odors, including smoke smell.
Cat owners already know about the powers of fine cat litter for combating unwanted odors. And in addition to cat litter, there’s baking soda, coffee grounds, and activated charcoal — all equally successful at absorbing odor-causing molecules.
Some of these recommendations are powder-based. So they work best if you place them in smaller containers (open) in the bathroom.
You can place each container in each corner of the bathroom or more hot spots and let them sit for a few days.
If the smoke absorbers don’t remove the smoke smell after the first try, dispose of the used powder, and replace it with the new one. It may take a bit longer for them to work.
You can also combine and repeat different methods. For instance, after one trial with the cat litter, you can replace it with baking soda and then replace baking soda with coffee grounds.
Alternatively, you can put different absorbers in different containers and see if that gives a better effect.
Mix Ammonia With Water
If gentle techniques like vinegar and different odor absorbers have failed you even after repeating the procedures a few times, it’s time to bring out the big guns.
Ammonia is a much more powerful odor absorber and will do an excellent job at removing even years-old smoke odor from your bathroom.
To apply it, mix it with water. The ratio can range anywhere between 4:1 and 2:1 in favor of water. Combine them in a spraying water bottle and cover all the surfaces in your bathroom.
Some say the effects are even better if you let the solution diffuse in the air.
Be mindful of ammonia, however. If your bathroom doesn’t have windows, consider even wearing a mask or a respirator while working with ammonia, as inhaling it can be dangerous.
Also, wear protective gear for your skin, such as gloves and working glasses.
Rugs and Curtains
The smoke smell could also be lingering on your bathroom rug, mat, or curtains. Removing the smoke smell from these items can be very challenging.
Vacuuming and scrubbing won’t help against the lingering smoke molecules. Yet, baking soda can. Cover your rug, mat, and curtain with baking soda, and let it sit for a few hours.
Then, vacuum it or toss it in the garbage, and clean the upholstery with the vinegar and water mixture.
Use an Air Purifier
Air purifiers are not as affordable as the previous suggestions, but they, too, are an excellent way to remove the smell of smoke from your bathroom.
Those with carbon filters are powerful enough to suck in all the odor-causing molecules and leave your bathroom fresh and clean. On top of that, you can also install HEPA filters in the purifier and get even better results.
HEPA filters are enriched with a filtration layer made of carbon, which is very good at attracting odor molecules. Then, all you need to do is clean the filters, and the unwanted odors are gone.
Last Resort: Paint Job
The majority of people have bathrooms with tile walls. However, many bathrooms also have a combination of tiles and plain walls. If this is the case for your bathroom, the smell may be on your walls.
Perhaps you’ve never thought about this before, but walls have absorbent properties and could be why your bathroom still smells of smoke even after significant efforts put into cleaning.
Repainting will fix the problem, but it should be your last option. It’s the most expensive and tedious way of handling smoke-odor-affected bathrooms. On a positive note, it will also give your bathroom a fresh new look.
Although many people like to hire professionals, you can do a DIY job and pay only for the materials.
For this job, make sure to use a primer, as these are great at preventing the smell of smoke from sticking to your bathroom’s walls and ceiling in the future.
In this article, we’ve shared some of the most effective techniques for removing the smoke smell from your bathroom.
The room should be smoke-free in a few days or weeks with good preparation, cleaning with vinegar, applying absorbents, or even ammonia.
Nevertheless, in more severe cases, it might be necessary to adhere to different methods, as smoke-smell molecules can be tricky and persistent.
If you have an air purifier, you can also use it to fight off the smoke smell in bathrooms.