Getting a Smoke Smell Out of Our Bathroom!! (??)

Updated on August 25, 2010
S.H. asks from Minneapolis, MN
20 answers

We just moved into an apartment, it's great and we love it except the extremely strong odor of smoke in the bathroom. It reminds me of a hotel room. That bleached covered smoke smell. It's bad, my eye get puffy from the smell.

I didn't know if there were any tricks to getting it out.

I've tried air spray, Fabreeze, a strong candle, incense, bleach bath also tried a lavendar scent all purpose condensed cleaner and scrubbed the walls and floor down. The approaches helped a little but the strong smell of smoke is back.

I wondered if painting would help it, but it’s also lingering in the cabinets under the sink. I pulled out a towel we had hanging from the door and the towel smells like smoke now. So weird!! I've tried just about everything I can think of so far. I have an Ion fan that I'm going to put in there today with a candle. Maybe that will help.

I don't want to spend too much money on trying to rid the place of something that was there prior to our move (Boy, did they have it covered up when we did our walk through before move in).

Should I send a request to the apt company to take of it? Or does anyone have any other suggestions.

Thank you so much for the help!

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answers from Minneapolis on

The management company should definitely take care of this for you. They can apply Kilz to the walls and repaint it. They may have to replace doors and cabinetry also, but the walls should get rid of most of the problem.



answers from San Francisco on

Paint the walls. It sounds like you might have to paint the cabinets too. Use a high-quality paint. Behr is good, and pay the extra for the premium paint.

It seems to me the apartment co. should pay for the cost of the paint.

More Answers



answers from Springfield on

I would suggest leaving large bowls of vinegar throughout the room for a few days. The vinegar draws out odors and gets rid of them. Then, I would paint like you suggested.

After painting, I would leave fresh bowls of vinegar out again. I usually leave bowls of vinegar out after painting to get rid of the smell faster, and I empty and refill them about once a day. It really helps!



answers from Milwaukee on

If you want to try painting....use KILZ first as a primer then paint with color.

Make sure to clean the fan if you have one too.

Good luck!



answers from Omaha on

Call the apartment managent company. Plain and simple. They can apply Kilz to the walls and that will help alot. I'm guessing they would leave it at that but if you continue to complain they would pry replace the furniture. But I'd also worry as others have stated that the person next door and it is seeping in via the duct system or something of that nature. Not much you can do about that. Does it smell stale? Of fresh. If stale it is most likely residual. Fress well then it must be fresh. But contact the management. You can usually not alter the apartment in any way or they can charge you to put it back to normal when you leave.



answers from Bismarck on

I love all of the posts - with one exception. You should absolutely contact your apartment management first. I would both phone and write them a note/letter so that you have a document trail - and indicate both your initial showing (no strong smoke smell) - and the fact that you are unable to remove the smell from personal items (towels). It very well could be the neighbor - which is a larger issue than you can take care of on your own. However once you begin painting and changing the cabinets without their permission, you may be setting yourself up for charges to you, instead. Such as if they prefer wood cabinets and didn't want them painted, etc. They may just have a solution or MAY even offer to paint the walls for you. Or ask that you turn in receipts so they might reimburse you. Ya never know - but keep them in the loop.



answers from Redding on

I support the vinegar solution as well. Wipe the walls and cupboards down with it.
Another thing that might work really well for inside your cupboard, and I know it might sound crazy, but put a bowl of charcoal briquettes in there and maybe one on the back of the toilet. They absorb moisture and odors.
I left my car window cracked once during a bad rain and I placed a tray of briquettes in the car and it helped keep the condensation off the inside of the windows.
Give it a try...
both things are cheap.

Let us know what works.

Best wishes!



answers from Spartanburg on

One solution is a product called can go to or find it at their website... Works GREAT! I was amazed how it zapped the odors...We had the same problem with our apartment. We also sprayed Gonesmoke into the Air Conditioning intake vent while it was running...AWESOME! I think its


answers from San Antonio on

I just clicked on someone else's post about vinegar used for cleaning. This link was in someone's reply and I found it very useful, I bookmarked it. Vinegar and Baking Soda are CHEAP!

So maybe you just would need to wash everything in vinegar/vinegar diluted with water. Mop, then wash tub, shower, toilet, sink ......

Sure you could request the apt company to clean it, but if they don't, I'd try vinegar, plus open the window whenever you can to help air it out. If there's that popcorn stuff on the ceiling, then the smell may be there to stay. That popcorn stuff soaks up smells.



answers from Sheboygan on

They do make paints and primers specifically for sealing in (covering) smoke odors. These are readily available at most hardware/paint stores. They work very well for the walls, but unfortunately, the cabinet is a whole other ball of wax. If it's wood (or pressboard), it will "soak" in any it smoke or otherwise, and is near to impossible to get out. You could check at the hardware store and see if they have anything, but in my experience, I have never found anything that works well. I did speak with a former landlord to find out if I could paint or replace a cabinet or two and take the cost off of my rent, and was able to do so, but I was living in a duplex, not an apartment building, and had a great landlord who was more than happy to reduce my rent if I made improvements to the apartment as long as I took before and after pictures and provided receipts.

Good luck!



answers from Provo on

I second the vinegar. I use white vinegar that is poured into small containers and sit it around the basement to keep that must smell away.



answers from Omaha on

Definitley contact management- if you are allergic- they have to do something.



answers from Boston on

They make carbon air cleansers (they just sit on the counter) not very expensive, try one for a while.

If there is a vent fan pull off the cover and clean up in there too.

Definitely ask the landlord if they will do something. That's gross.

I would imagine painting would help and would ask if they would do that for you, or at least pay for the paint and you do it -- thankfully the room is a small one.

You might also try fabric softener sheets in the cabinets.

I don't think the candle will do much for you.



answers from Minneapolis on

SOL-U-MEL is a miracle cleaner. It can be mixed with water and sprayed on as an air freshener and odor remover. I spray it on our carpet to get out dog accidents. Its also a stain remover if used in its concentrated form.



answers from Minneapolis on

I didn't read the other posts so I may be repeating here...

There is a product called TSP (white powder in a white and red box) that you mix with hot water and can scrub all the surfaces in your bathroom with it. My aunt even adds bleach to the mixture - I've never done that.

If there is nicotine on the walls/ vanity, etc. you won't be able to paint it properly - the brown nicotine will seep thru the paint. It's SO gross. So you will need to clean EVERY surface w/ the TSP first.

It works well but is very messy as all the brown water runs down the walls so have lots of old sheets, towels, etc. ready to dry up after! Good luck



answers from Pittsburgh on

Painting it would definitely help AFTER you completely wash down all surface with something like Nature's Miracle. You can buy that at pet stores. Good luck!



answers from Des Moines on

Go to your closest tobacco/ciggarette store and get a smoke b gone candle and a smoke b gone obsorbing gel airfreshener. This really do work. Having lived in apartments and you mentioning how bad it is in the cupboard under your sink I wonder if you have considered that it might not be your bathroom but the person below you might currently be smoking in theirs. The smell can travel up along the pipes and moisture intisifies the smell. If this is the case I would not only buy the smoke be gone stuff, but insillate your pipes and fill in any holes arround them to help block it.



answers from Minneapolis on

Try "Odors Away." It comes in a tiny bottle from the hardware store for 4 or 5 dollars. My tiny bottle has lasted over a year, because one drop will do a room for at least 24 hours. This includes smoky smells from next door.



answers from Omaha on

In some apartment buildings the insulation between apartments aren't that great so that smells and odors are transferred between apartments very easily. It could be that your neighbor is smoking in the bathroom or her apartment and that is where the smoke smell is coming from. I would check with the apt manager to see if there was recent fire's in the building and lingering smell that might be associated with it. If that is the case they should take care of it. Otherwise if it is a neighbor smoking in their own home there might not be any way to get rid of it unless you live in a non smoking building. Good Luck!



answers from Green Bay on

I am guessing that you are connected to other apartments right ? Well it is not your bathroom I am guessing your nieghbor is smoking in their bathroom and it is coming through your vent . When I lived in a apartment many years ago our nieghbor smoked in her bathroom and our bathroom stunk bad . The vents to all the apartments are connected .

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