Tobacco Odor and Home Sales

The percentage of adult smokers in the United States is hanging out at about 14% in 2020, down from 16% in 2017. This tells us a few things as it relates to reselling a home.

First of all, tobacco odor is extremely off-putting to the majority of non-smokers in the housing market. But with millions of smokers, there is naturally going to be a lot of stale smoke smelling homes up for sale.

To be completely fair, it doesn’t matter if a potential buyer for your home is a smoker or not. Even smokers want the home they buy to be clean and foul odor-free. Keep reading as we explain why the smell of smoke will lower the value of your home, make it harder to sell, and what to do about it.

Tobacco Odor and the Bottom Line

The bottom line is simple—the more attractive your home is to buyers the more money they will be willing to pay you for it. That being said, the average return on investment of home improvement projects is only 64.7% with some projects adding more value than others.

The experts agree that the most effective way to add value to your home is to improve the home’s appearance and yes, eliminate any odors that have worked their way into every part of your home.

1. Smells are Different for Everyone

Have you ever walked into a house and are immediately hit with a distinct smell? Maybe the owners have pets or work dirty jobs and their lifestyles reflect in the smell of their home. You think to yourself, “how can anyone live with that smell?”

The truth is that the way their home smells is “normal” and likely doesn’t bother them. If you are a smoker or spend most of your day around smokers, you are of course more accustomed and adapted to the smell.

What smells and to what degree they bother people is not only about the smell itself but more about the individual’s tolerance and unique odor preferences.

2. The Nose Knows and Remembers

Neuroscience has long linked smells to memories. The human experience encompasses all of our senses, but our sense of smell is particularly sensitive to our emotional state.

The smell of tobacco is by and large one of those smells people associate with the “smoker lifestyle” and that in itself brings up all sorts of memories and emotions in people.

The strong smell of tobacco could very easily put the home buyer in a mood that isn’t consistent with how they want to live. Considering the home is where they live, this unconscious association may make the potential buyer apprehensive.

3. Cleaning Up VS Covering Up

You may be tempted to spray some air freshener around or light some incense and call it a day. There are two problems with this approach.

First of all “covering up” foul orders with pleasant ones doesn’t actually work all that well. The stronger odor of that lemon air freshener may seem to eliminate the smell of tobacco smoke, but in reality, it is still there.

Adding another smell to the mix can even make things worse. A good rule of thumb is to eliminate strong odors all together and not add new ones that could also turn off a buyer. This can only be accomplished with the deep cleaning power of disinfection and decontamination.

4. The Problem Runs Deep

Over years of smoking in a home, tobacco residue coats and is absorbed by everything. In order to remove the tobacco odor completely, you will need to deep clean every part of the home.


Carpets are a sponge for order causing residues. Ideally, carpets that have seen years of smoking in the room should be replaced before you put the home up for sale. If a replacement isn’t possible or within your budget then a deep cleaning shampoo treatment may do the trick.


You are likely not selling the house with your furniture, but buyers have no way of knowing where the odor is coming from. Much like carpets, sofas and chairs absorb smoke residues and ooze the order back out into the room when you sit on them. A deep cleaning shampoo of furniture will also go a long way in combating tobacco odor in the home.

Curtains and Walls

Basically, any fabric absorbs smoke and causes the smoke odor to linger. Replace or wash curtains, through blankets, and table cloths that have been absorbing smoke.

A home that has been smoked in for years has a thin layer of tobacco residue on every surface including the walls, ceiling, and windows. You will never get rid of the smell of tobacco if these surfaces are not cleaned of residue.

5. Don’t Forget the Filters

Air circulation and filtration is an important part of every home’s livability. Your HVAC system most likely has ducts that run from room to room carrying air and smoke with it.

After you have deep cleaned or replaced odor saturated materials, the last step is to change all the air filters in your home so the fresh air isn’t contaminated by clogged and dirty filters.

Tobacco Odor Removal

The home is where the heart is, but the nose lives there too. The value of your home is based on its livability and desirability—both of which tobacco odor can have a negative impact on the home’s resale value.

Unfortunately, properly getting rid of tobacco odor is a much bigger job than people realize. The decontamination professionals at Spaulding Decon are standing by to take on the job for you. Learn about our national account services and take action to clean up your home or business.

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