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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Do you Have Cigarette Smoke or Nicotine Odors?

1/5/2020 (Permalink)

Removing the smell of cigarette smoke and nicotine can be a difficult task. There are a lot of misconceptions about smoke and odor and how it can be cleaned. Results also will vary depending on a wide variety of factors. That is why many professional cleaning companies will stay away from nicotine clean jobs entirely. However, with the right tools and expectations, there can be dramatic improvements. 

Cigarette Odor: Everyone can recognize the smell of cigarettes. After the sweetness of the tobacco has abated, the odor that is left is generally described as stale and musty. Odor is the brain’s response to stimuli from the olfactory system but our memory is triggered strongly by odors. So even traces of an odor to which someone has a strong psychological reaction, will make them think there is a much larger odor problem than there actually is. Conversely, smokers have dulled their sense of smell to cigarette smoke.

Properties of Nicotine: Nicotine is an organic substance that is a natural part of the tobacco plant. Nicotine is an incredibly small molecule measuring only .01 microns. It is so small that it can pass through material that we typically think of as solid. Therefore it can embed itself in almost every type of material that is in any way porous. Also, nicotine can remain airborne, almost indefinitely. If trapped in a confined space such as a car or a room, ambient heat will increase air pressure and therefore “push” the nicotine molecules into anything porous.

<pattachment-1977">The original color of the paint is the white that was protected by hanging pictures. The orange/brown is nicotine damage. The area above the chandelier is most affected because of the increased air flow caused by the rising heat from the light bulbs.

Cleaning Nicotine: The main problem with cleaning nicotine is that it seldom is only on the surface of all of the materials. Nicotine molecules are so small that it can have worked its way into almost every object in a room. Therefore to clean nicotine, it has to be physically removed from inside of every exposed surface. Simply spraying and wiping will not remove smoke odor. 

Particularly susceptible materials include: fabrics, carpets, drapes, upholstery, clothing, mats, lampshades, wallpaper, wallboard, dust, sheet rock, plaster, unsealed wood. Popcorn ceilings and ceiling tiles cannot be cleaned.

Steel, sealed wood, stone and plastics generally are less effected.

Note: Odor may also be trapped in vents and air handling systems that can’t be cleaned by conventional methods.

Solution: Understandably, professional cleaning companies have a hard time estimating and then charging to wash the same wall multiple times over multiple days to ultimately only have an unhappy customer. The only way to remove the odor is to remove the nicotine. If the carpets and fabrics are removed, the dust is removed and the walls and surfaces washed – then the best method is to apply a sealer. The sealer traps the nicotine molecule, and therefore the odor, into the walls. If a customer is less sensitive, instead of sealing, an ozone generator or hydroxyl ran for 24-48 hours can help eliminate most of the odors. Ozone machines and hydroxyl's are effective because it destroys organic molecules such as nicotine. Again, results will depend on the severity of the smoke, the duration the materials were effected and the type of materials. We also have powerful fogging technology that can destroy nicotine in hard to reach places. The only guarantee for an odor free environment is to remove or seal the materials that hold nicotine.

If you have any further questions call:

SERVPRO of Delaware, OH at 740-369-5020

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