Before selling a house, there are many things to consider—how it looks, how it smells, and how it stands overall. However, it is more challenging to sell a place that has been damaged by smoke. Tobacco smoke is a massive turn-off for buyers. People have allergies, aversions, or asthma. But how do you sell a house damaged by years of smoke? Here are some tips.

1. Let the Air Out

Ventilation is essential for homes damaged by fire. It’s best to keep the air flowing as long as you can, as long as it’s needed. Open all the windows and set up fans that can blow stale air out of the house. If possible, try replacing all the filters in the home, including the furnace filters, exhaust fans, and air conditioning units.

After the few days of letting the air out, close all the possible exits and run several air purifiers for another few days to help remove the remaining smoke. Letting the air out is only possible for homes with occasional smoking. But for homes with more damage, however, might need further cleaning than only airing out.

2. Deodorize Soft Goods

Tobacco smoke is notorious for leaving unpleasant odors on anything—especially fabrics. Therefore, take all the time you need to ensure that every item does not smell of tobacco. Curtains and linens need to be washed. However, if you’re not satisfied with doing it yourself, you may bring it to a local cleaning professional for help.

For items that are not possible to wash, you might have to throw them away. By now, they are permanently stained or tainted by years of smoking in the household. Regardless of what you do, they will still smell unpleasant around people who are not used to smelling smoke.

3. Get Professional Help

Other materials, such as wall-to-wall carpets, are a much more challenging item to deal with than rugs since people can’t send them to the cleaners. However, it’s possible for homeowners to get a professional upholstery cleaner’s opinion about what they can do for you. 

Every company has a different process for cleaning—some may have a good method for eliminating odors, and some simply suggest people replace the items instead. An inexpensive, neutral carpet is a good investment before selling a home. However, wait until after all the cleanup is finished before installing it for it to stay fresh longer.

4. Scrub All Surfaces

Smoke permeates through any porous surface, including drywall and even floorboards. Besides the problem of smelling smoke, tobacco stains are stubborn on surfaces, causing discoloration. For a quick household fix, scrub any surface tarnished by tobacco smoke using a solution that’s one part baking soda, two parts white vinegar, and four parts warm water. 

The answer should help cut odors and gently buff away stains. After scrubbing, make sure to wipe down the surfaces and air dry them for the full effect.

5. Repaint the Walls

The final remedy before selling a house damaged by smoke is by repainting its walls. Be sure the walls are thoroughly cleaned and dry before you start. If possible and available in your location, use a stain-blocking primer as your base coat. Apply two coats of a new color, preferably a light neutral color

A fresh coat of paint will not only eliminate nicotine stains and block odors but will also ensure that your house looks brand new before potential buyers come and see it. If there is more paint left, repeat the repainting process for trim work and doors if needed.


Preparing a house for sale can become challenging, especially if people have been smoking for years. It might take some time to figure out where to begin but prioritize the odor first as it is the most challenging aspect to eliminate. If you’re doing the work on your own, make sure to bring a friend or a real estate agent for an honest opinion of your work.

Redline Restoration centers around critical response times, efficient project management, and prime quality services. If you’re in need of cleaning and restoration services, we’re only a call away. We cover water restoration, fire and smoke damage, storm damage and cleanup, mold remediation, biohazard services, and Covid-19 disinfection. Log on to our website to schedule an appointment with us.