When smoke gets into contact with the plastic electronics we use daily, it can cause significant damage, particularly if this exposure persists over a prolonged period.
Even if the exterior of these electronics appears unaffected, smoke from small fires or even cigarette smoke can penetrate the interior and lead to internal damage.
To prevent more severe consequences and eliminate the accumulated smoke causing the unpleasant smell, you might need our help. Conventional cleaning practices may not suffice, while getting professional help will cost a lot of money.
Read on to find out what cleaning aces we have up our sleeves that will help you get your electronics in order. But first, let’s see what can happen if your electronics come in touch with smoke.
How Is Smoke Harmful to Plastic Electronics?
If a small fire occurs near your plastic electronics, the ash that remains, also known as soot, along with the smoke from the fire, can cause three main problems for electronics: insulation, magnetization, and corrosion.
If soot coats the surfaces, it can create insulation for the parts inside, leading to overheating, device failure, or fire. The overheating components can even emit poisonous gasses into the air.
Magnetization, on the other hand, is caused by the smoke’s magnetic charge. Not many people know this about smoke, but when it enters electronic devices, it sometimes causes a short circuit inside the device. A short circuit is an abnormal condition where the current flows through a smaller pathway with little electrical resistance. When it happens, it can cause severe damage, fire, or even a small explosion.
Finally, corrosion happens as a consequence of oxidation, and since soot has corrosive nature, it can affect the components inside the device and have them corrode.
How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Plastic Electronics
Before discussing how to get the smoke smell out of electronics, let’s briefly mention what you shouldn’t do.
First, do not turn on or plug the device into the socket during cleaning. And second, do not apply cleaning solutions such as bleach, ammonia, vinegar, ethyl acid, or acetone. In contact with plastic, these substances can cause more damage to your device.
Before you start applying anything, assess the damage. How big is it, and where is it located? How long has the device been exposed to smoke? If we’re talking about accumulated smoke over months or years, you may need to combine different methods and try different things until the smoke smell is eliminated. Without further ado, let’s see what they are.
Alcohol on Cotton Ball
A cotton ball with a few drops of alcohol can do miracles against the smoke smell. Simply grab a cotton ball with a pair of tweezers and dip it slightly into the alcohol. The cotton ball should be damp, not wet. Wipe the affected surfaces with it, then give them another pass with a dry cloth.
Let it sit for a few hours before you switch your device on and start using it again.
Remember, only wiping the electronics with a damp cotton ball is okay, do not try to soak your device in alcohol. The antibacterial features of alcohol should destroy the molecules that cause the odor of smoke.
Also, if possible, do all of this outside since the evaporations can be somewhat toxic, and inhaling them in a closed space is not good.
Finally, be careful not to leave cotton ball fibers on the device’s components.
When it comes to traditional solutions, vinegar may not be the most suitable option for addressing smoke-related issues on electronic devices. However, you can still rely on the tried-and-true baking soda with its odor-absorbing properties.
Apply baking soda by sprinkling it on top of the area affected by smoke. However, make sure that no baking soda enters the internal components of the electronics, as it may be challenging to remove thoroughly. Let it sit during the night. In the morning, brush the powder off your device.
Additionally, baking soda can be highly effective in combating corrosion. It helps to break down grime and corrosion buildup without damaging your electronics. To remove corrosion, use a baking soda paste (add water until you get a paste-like consistency) and apply it to a Q-tip. Gently rub or tap the paste onto the corroded parts of the circuit board, allowing the baking soda to work its magic.
An air compressor can be a valuable tool in removing smoke particles (the ones creating the unpleasant smell) from plastic electronics. It offers several benefits, including blowing away dust, promoting air circulation within the device, and ensuring the air reaches every crack, pore, or vent. The only thing you need to be careful of is the pressure because if you overdo it, you can damage your device.
As with the alcohol method, we recommend cleaning your device outside to avoid dispersing dust or dirt particles throughout your home.
Salt and Lemon (no Tequila)
While salt and lemon are often associated with tequila shots, this party combination is also great at many other things, like getting the smoke smell out of your electronics.
Simply combine salt and lemon and use this solution to rub the exterior of your smoke-affected electronic devices. The ratio of ingredients should be half to one whole lemon and one to two tablespoons of salt dissolved in one cup of water.
Just beware that because lemon juice is very acidic and it can remove the color from the plastic, so test it on a small surface first. Also, make sure the lemon juice doesn’t enter the device, as it has corrosive components and may damage the device’s internal components.
After applying the lemon juice and salt mixture to the exterior of the device, allow it to sit overnight. This gives the juice enough time to absorb the odor molecules. After this, rinse the remaining salt and juice from the surface of the device with a damp wrung-out cloth and wipe it once more with a dry cloth before switching it on again.
Fresh air and the sun can be perfect for eliminating the smoke smell from plastic electronics, even though most people usually undermine their power.
Place your device outside in a sunny spot. If you’re not expecting rain and nights are not too cold and moist, you can leave your device outside for a few days. Alternatively, you can return it outside every morning and take it inside in the evening.
If the temperature is too high, avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, as this can cause damage. In that case, it’s better to leave the device in the shade, in partial shade (under a tree), or to take it outside in the early morning or evening when the sun is not too intense.
Dryer sheets can be surprisingly effective in removing smoke odors from plastic electronic devices. To use them, all you need to do is take an unused dryer sheet and place it inside the device. Let it sit overnight. If the dryer sheets are too big, you can cut them into smaller pieces that suit the size of the device better.
The solution inside the dryer sheets should reduce or eliminate the smoke smell inside the electronic device. However, in more severe cases, you may not be able to notice the effect after the first application, meaning you’ll need to repeat the process a few times.
Opinions about air ionizers vary a lot. Some people claim they are beneficial for odor removal, while others are not keen on using them, as there is a certain stigma around their health effects.
However, ionizers can be very helpful in removing the smoke smell of plastic electronics. Ionizers’ primary mechanism is to trap tiny particles like smoke and dust, thanks to charging ions that can attract small particles.
Once the ionization has finished, you will find the deposits in the central area that have gathered through the electrostatic, and you can wipe them with a piece of cloth.
Other smell absorbers work in a similar way as baking soda. For example, you can use active charcoal, coffee grinds, or even cat litter to remove the smoke smell from your plastic electronics.
You can pick any of these products as your primary cleaning agent and then pick one of the following methods.
Switch off the device and unplug it from the socket. If it’s not an extra large device, put it in a sealed bag. Then, put the chosen material (charcoal, coffee, or litter) in a container with holes or vents, and add the bag with the device inside. The goal is for the material not to spill into your device, so close the bag with the electronics. Let this mixture sit overnight so there is enough time for absorption.
Alternatively, you can put it on a wire rack after switching it off and unplugging the device from the socket. Then, closely under it, you can put the active charcoal, coffee, or cat litter in a bowl or container. The dish with the absorbing material should be left open to absorb the smell from above.
This technique will also take a few days to work, so arm yourself with patience.
Smoking near electronic devices can damage them, and if the smoke accumulates over time, the device will also emit an unpleasant odor.
Getting rid of the smoke smell from your electronic devices can extend their lifespan and save you money on expensive repairs. We hope our guide on how to get the smoke smell out of plastic electronics helped you figure out what to do.
If the smell of smoke has affected the rest of your home, visit our website and find out how to remove the smell of smoke from your carpet, wooden furniture, fabric furniture, clothes, and walls.