Author / Stacy Kapasouris

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How to Get the Smell Of Smoking Out of Your House

The smell of smoke and nicotine can stick to interior walls, window screens, and household linens and carpets, creating an unpleasant smell throughout the home. Smoke odors are caused by leftover resin and tar, which can be difficult to deodorize. Removing smoke odors from your home may require a total cleaning of the house, purifying the air, and even replacing carpets and paint if the smoke damage is particularly extensive

Preparing to Deodorize Your Home

1- Remove all sources of smoke. Remove cigarette butts, ends of cigars, ashtrays, etc. from your home and outside space. Leaving these items in your home will lead to continual absorption of the smell of smoke. Dispose of these items after they have been completely extinguished. Place them in a grocery bag and tie it closed before putting it in an outdoor trash bin.

2- Open all windows and doors to air out the house. Do this frequently throughout the cleaning and deodorizing process.

-You can place fans strategically throughout your home for increased airflow. Point your fans in corners of the room that may not have good airflow to push air out of the room. Or, point fans toward doorways and windows to help stale air leave the home.

3- Purchase deodorizing products. Some products will advertise things such as odor control or odor removal. However, it’s important you use products that have a cleaning agent included. Products that simply mask odors will not get rid of the smell of smoke. Look for products that have:

-Baking soda. Baking soda naturally neutralizes odors and does it by bringing acidic and basic odor molecules into a more neutral pH or state.

-Activated charcoal. Charcoal is used often to filter dirt and particles from water but it also acts as a great deodorizing agent that absorbs odors and smells.

-Hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide deodorizes by giving oxygen to a contaminated or smelly area. However, this chemical can act like bleach and should be used carefully and only on certain surfaces. Do a test run on a small area before using it extensively?

Removing Odors from Carpets, Cloth, and Linens

1- Gather all your clothing, duvets, pillows, and curtains. Anything that is cloth or linen and can be washable should be gathered into bags to be washed.

You may think a certain item doesn’t smell, but you may have gone nose blind to it. This means you have gotten used to the smell of smoke and can’t distinguish it from the environment anymore. It’s safe to say that if something in a home smells of smoke, most or all items will probably smell like smoke.

Wash or dry clean all items. It’s important to clean your clothes as well as cloths, linens, and pillows before you plan to clean the rest of the home. Cloths and linens are able to soak up odors more effectively than other types of materials. By getting them out of the way, it makes cleaning other surfaces easier.

Consider washing and storing your clean cloths and linens outside of the home. Bringing them back into the home after cleaning runs the risk of your items soaking up smoke odors left in the home.

2- Remember to clean, wash, or replace your curtains and shades. Many people forget to clean curtains and shades which are prime spots for tar and resin to settle and permeate into. Take down your curtains or shades and wash them. You can also buy new shades if yours are particularly old and smelly.

Certain wall hangings may also be made of fabric or canvas material. Remember to take these down as well and clean them with mild soap, water, and a wash cloth. Simply wipe them down and store them outside of the home until you finish the deodorizing process.

3- Survey your carpet. If it is extremely dirty and the smoke smell is intense, consider replacing it. If you cannot, clean it by:

-Shampooing it. You can rent a carpet steam cleaner and shampoo the carpet yourself. Or you can hire a professional to clean the carpet for you.

-Sprinkling baking soda. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda on top of your carpet surfaces and leave it to soak for a day. The baking soda will absorb the smell of smoke and any moisture in the carpet. Then vacuum the carpet to remove the baking soda. You can do this several times a week until the smell disappears.

4- Sprinkle your fabric-covered furniture and carpets with baking soda. You may also choose to use a strong chemical cleaner. This deodorizing product is used by professionals who are trying to improve houses after a fire.

If you can remove the cushion covers, wet them and wash by hand or in a washing machine with a baking soda mixture. Let them dry a little, then place them back on the cushions when they are still slightly wet. This allows them to stretch to the appropriate size without causing mildew.

Removing Smoke Odor from Household Surfaces

1- Use vinegar or diluted bleach to clean non-fabric surfaces. Bleach, and especially vinegar, do well to break up the tars and resins in cigarette smoke. The smell of bleach and vinegar may be off putting at first, but unlike smoke, these odors will dissipate in time.

Mix equal parts of white distilled vinegar and warm water to create a cleaning solution.

Mix 1/2 cup (115 mL) of chlorine bleach to 1 gallon (4 L) of water to clean surfaces like sinks, showers, bathtubs, countertops, glazed tile, vinyl, and floors. Always rinse surfaces with water thoroughly after cleaning, before use. Do not use bleach on the same surface that you applied the vinegar mixture to

2- Wash the floors, ceilings, window screens, walls, and other fixtures. You may need a ladder to reach all the washable surfaces in your house.

Don’t forget to wash down interiors of closets and cabinets as well as the walls of the basements, hallways, cupboards, and drawers.

3- Wipe all the wood, plastic, and metal furniture and appliances with distilled white vinegar. Put the vinegar in a spray bottle and wipe it clean with a rag. Follow up by rinsing with water and drying with a clean rag, if the furniture is delicate.

Place several drops of lavender, citrus, or rosemary essential oil to offset the smell of the vinegar. If you do not choose to do this, the vinegar smell will dissipate as it deodorizes furniture.

4-Dust or rinse all your Knick knacks. Simply wipe them or wash them in mild soap. You may want to remove them from the home until all surfaces are clean and deodorized.

Repainting the Walls

1- Wash your walls. You can use a variety of products or cleaning solutions to wash your walls and remove dirt, grease, and odors.

Most professional painters use TSP, or trisodium phosphate, to clean walls Just mix 1 cup of TSP to 20 cups of water or buy a TSP spray to apply to your walls and wipe with a washcloth. Be sure to use gloves when you’re using TSP.

2- Use a deodorizing primer on washed walls. Products like Zinsser Bullseye and Kilz are an essential step to removing smoke odors that have been around for a long period of time. Simple repainting will not remove the smell and will just trap smoke odors within the paint.

3-Consider painting other parts of your home. For example, if an old piece of furniture smells smoky, you can wash it, prime it with a deodorizing primer, and paint it to get rid of the smell.

Purifying the Air

1-Replace your air filters, furnace filters, and air conditioning filters. Air that is forced through your home will still contain smoky smells, so replacing any and all filters will begin to purify the air and move clean, fresh air into the home.

You can clean filters in TSP solutions. While wearing gloves, simply soak the filter in a TSP solution and agitate it for no more than an hour. Use a brush to further rid of any dirt or remaining odors. Rinse thoroughly after cleaning.

2-Buy an air purifier. You can choose to install an air purifier in your home’s forced air system or you can buy purifiers that can be placed in a single room. Make sure to take into consideration the size of the room or home, and purchase equipment that is the right size and strength for the area.

3-Place bowls of activated charcoal around the house. Activated charcoal works to absorb odors over time. Place bowls of charcoal around places within your home that cannot be aired out, such as a windowless room or cupboard space. Over time, the charcoal should soak up the odors.

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How to Remove Wax from Wood

Removing wax from any surface can be tricky if there are grooves or pores for the wax to soak into. First, we’ll tackle the wax on the surface and then pull the remaining wax out of the grooves and grains of the wood. The process is simple, but may take a little time and patience.

You Will Need:

-Ice cubes

-Spoon or dull knife

-Iron

-Brown paper bags

-Soft cloths

-Hair dryer

Steps to Remove the Wax:

If the wax is still soft, place some ice cubes in a plastic bag, and lay it on top of the wax. The harder the wax is, the easier it will be to remove.

Use the spoon or dull knife to scrape the wax off of the surface. Apply the ice again if it begins to soften. Cold, brittle wax is much quicker to release from the surface.

To remove the wax in the grooves, we want the opposite conditions. For removing this wax, it will need to be melted.

Preheat the iron on a low setting with no steam.

Cover the area with a brown paper bag, and set the iron on top for 10 seconds.

Remove the iron. You should see where the wax has transferred to the paper.

Repeat with a clean section of paper bag until the wax is completely removed or no longer transfers to the bag.

If there is wax deeper in the grooves of the wood, repeat the iron steps with a soft cloth.

For the remaining wax, melt it with a hair dryer.

Blot with a clean, soft cloth to soak up the melted wax.

Repeat until all of the wax is removed.

If a dye stain remains, use the guide How to Remove Dye from Finished Wood to remove it.

Additional Tips and Advice

Avoid allowing the iron to set for too long on the wood or it may leave a burn mark.

Avoid setting candles directly on wood surfaces. This is a fire hazard.

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Removing Scuff Marks From Floors

Any hard flooring in your home is susceptible to scuff marks. Scuff marks are the black streaks usually left by items that have a hard rubber bottom, such as heels, hard-soled shoes, ladders, furniture, toys, and so on. The following tricks should help you defeat those unsightly scuff marks with less effort than you probably imagined.

Rubber vs. Rubber

Erasers

For smaller scuff marks, try using a regular pencil eraser. Rub the spot firmly until the scuff mark disappears. Be sure to sweep up any remaining eraser shaving as they can cause their own stains if left unattended. Some companies now make special eraser-type products for this purpose. One such product that works very well on scuff marks is the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, generally available where ever cleaning products are sold. However, a Magic Eraser can remove the finish from some types of floors, so be sure to test it in a small hidden area first.

Tennis Shoe

For larger scuff marks, try using the rubber sole of a tennis shoe. Press your hand into the shoe, and rub the spot firmly with the heel. If this is uncomfortable, or you feel you are not exerting enough pressure, place your foot inside the shoe and rub again with a circular, grinding motion.

Tennis Ball

For larger areas of scuff marks, take a plain tennis ball, carefully cut a small “X” (about 1/4 “) into the top. To avoid injury, DO NOT hold the ball in your hand as you cut it, but rather place it on a firm surface or vise grip. Insert the top of a broom handle into the “X” and, using the tennis ball end of the broom, rub the scuff marks with the tennis ball.

 Scrubbing Tricks

If the above techniques don’t seem to work, or you don’t have any of the items handy, try the following scrubbing tricks:

Baking Soda Paste

Mix about 2 tablespoons of baking soda with warm water to make a smooth paste (not runny). Using a soft cloth, scrub with the paste to remove the scuff mark. Wipe the area with a clean damp cloth and wipe dry.

Lighter Fluid

Dampen a soft cloth with lighter fluid and rub the spot with the cloth. Wipe the area with a clean damp cloth and dry. Always exercise caution when using lighter fluid. It is flammable and toxic, and should not come in contact with skin or eyes.

Toothpaste

Using a clean cloth, rub a small amount of toothpaste on the scuff mark, using firm, circular motions. Wipe area with a clean, damp cloth and dry thoroughly.

WD-40

Spray a little WD-40 onto a soft cloth or paper towel and rub the scuff mark gently. Wipe area with a clean, damp cloth and dry thoroughly.

Over-The-Counter

There are products on the market specifically designed for removing scuff marks and other tough stains, which are safe to use on most types of flooring (i.e. Goo Gone). ALWAYS check the label to ensure that the product is safe for the type of flooring you have. Make sure you follow all manufacturer directions.

Special Notes and Precautions

While a pencil eraser will remove scuff marks from most floors, a colored eraser (i.e. such as the standard pink) is NOT recommended if you have white or light colored floors as it may leave a pink residue that is as stubborn as the scuff mark. For light-colored floors, use a clear or light-colored eraser, or simply try a different method.

While these methods are safe for most floors, ALWAYS test a small inconspicuous area of the floor first to make sure there will be no issues with regard to discoloration or fading.

When using the Tennis Shoe method, opt for a shoe that has a white rubber sole to avoid making the scuff mark worse.

When using the Tennis Ball method opt for the standard light green ball; colored balls may leave a smudge or stain behind.

If you are removing the scuff mark from laminate or hardwood flooring, it is especially important that you dry the area thoroughly when you are done as excess water can damage the flooring.

When in doubt, ALWAYS check with the manufacturer or retailer of your particular floor or floor type for additional tips and cautions with regard to cleaning.

Removing Scuffs from a Garage Floor

The floors in most garages are concrete, and can become covered with tire marks and other tenacious scuff marks caused by yard equipment, tools and the like. Although not as simple as interior floors, concrete floors in your garage and workshop can be made scuff-free as well. If the techniques above don’t work, try wetting the area and using an over-the-counter degreaser, such as ORANGE CITRUS concentrate. Allow the degreaser to sit on the spot for a few hours. Scrub with a scrub brush and rinse.

Depending on the source of the scuff mark, spraying it with bleach may work. Using a spray bottle, spray the area with undiluted bleach, wait about 15 or 20 minutes, and scrub with a stiff-bristled brush. Rinse with water to remove remaining bleach residue. NOTE: Always exercise caution when using bleach as it is considered a hazardous substance. Avoid getting bleach on your clothing as it will stain. Avoid contact with skin and especially eyes.

NEVER use bleach to clean decorative concrete flooring, or any other type of flooring, unless specifically recommended by the manufacturer. Otherwise, damage and discoloration can occur.

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Garden Hack

Use coffee grounds to keep pests away

Use used coffee grounds to keep pests like ants, snails, and slugs away. There are many other coffee grounds as well. Coffee grounds in the soil also improve the seed germination and growth of the plant. What is more advantageous is that they prevent soil borne diseases like wilts, fungal rots, and some bacterial pathogens.

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Garden Hack

Sprinkle Cinnamon powder on seedlings to prevent diseases

Cinnamon has some anti-fungal qualities, and it smells great as a bonus. Use it to prevent and stop diseases on seedlings.

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Garage Hack

Hanging Car Wash Bucket

Flat-backed feed buckets aren’t just for feeding horses. They are perfect for storing car wash supplies right on the wall. Hang using a picture hanger, and easily transport from the garage to the driveway.

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Kitchen Hack

De-skin potatoes without a peeler

Time to ditch the peeler again! Peel a potato in a snap by boiling it and then giving it an ice bath. The skin will separate from the potatoey center and you can pick it right off.

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Kitchen Hack

Prevent brown sugar from hardening

Help brown sugar stay soft and scoop-able by tossing an orange peel or a slice of apple along with the sugar into an airtight container. For a quick fix, microwave brown sugar next to a small glass of water. The moisture within the microwave will help break up the block of sweetener.

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Kitchen Hack

Speed up ripening

Be a total magician and morph a banana from green to yellow or a peach from crunchy to juicy all with the help of a paper bag. When fruit is tossed into the bag, concentrated ethylene gas helps it ripen faster.

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Kitchen Hack

Give bananas a longer life

Keep bananas fresher, longer by wrapping the end of the bunch with plastic wrap. Better yet, separate each banana. The plastic wrap blocks ethylene gases from releasing out of the stem, consequently ripening the fruit too fast