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So you’re looking for the perfect home and you come across a place that has everything you need. It has the right number of bedrooms, a nice kitchen and it’s well cared for. It’s in a good community with excellent schools, parks and lots of things to do. But there’s a problem.

The current owners are smokers.

The smell of cigarette smoke is a big turnoff, and can have negative effects on people’s health, perhaps even months after the smokers have moved out. Obviously, you can tell the current owners are smokers if you smell smoke, but there are other hints you should look for, such as an abundance of air fresheners and scented candles, which could be used to mask that smoky smell. You can also sniff curtains and look for cigarette butts and signs of smoke damage to lampshades.

Not to say you should give up on a home if it’s owned by smokers. Here are some things you can do that might help clear away the lingering odors of cigarettes after you’ve purchased a home:

Open the windows. A simple step, indeed, but very effective, especially on a crisp day with a nice breeze going. If you’ve moved into your home in fall or winter and can stand some cool air, keeping windows open throughout the home will help a lot.

Clear the vents. Having the air ducts cleaned by a professional will likely eliminate odors that are trapped in them, and thus prevent them from being spread around the house when the heating system or air conditioner is in use. Changing the filter on your HVAC system can also help

Wash those walls. There are cleaning products available that are designed to wash walls and eliminate odors, though a mix of vinegar and water is often recommended. Whatever method you use, thoroughly was the walls. It’s very important to wash ceilings as well because smoke rises and often settles in the ceiling.

Clean the carpets. Hire a professional to clean the carpets or rent a machine to do it yourself—regular vacuuming, even with a deodorizer, won’t be very effective. You may even want to install new carpeting. Mop kitchen floors with an appropriate product and use a wood-floor cleaner for wooden floors.

With a little work and some time, you can turn a former smoker’s home into a fresh-smelling one.

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