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Dealing with Smokers in Your Airbnb: Effective Cleaning Solutions and Strategies

As a short-term rental host, it’s important to maintain a smoke-free environment for your guests. However, despite your best efforts, there may be times when guests smoke in your rental property. In such cases, it’s essential to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and comfort of future guests. This can result in higher cleaning fees due to the proper cleaning procedures and removing odors. Here are some tips to follow if you encounter smoking in your rental property.

Image of person smoking indoors

How to Remove Smoke Smell out of the House

1. Ventilate the Space

The first step in cleaning a smoking-damaged rental property is to ventilate the space. Open windows and doors and use fans to remove smoke from the room. If possible, use air purifiers with HEPA filters to remove smoke particles from the air. Quick note: HEPA is an acronym for “high-efficiency particulate air filter,” defined by the U.S. Dept of Energy. This type of air filter can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and airborne particles with a size of .3 microns.  Choosing a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter is also a good idea. Be sure to replace air filters in the home/unit and mist an odor neutralizer on the filter.

2. Assess the Damage

Once you have ventilated the space, assess the extent of the damage. First, fog or spray a commercial-grade odor neutralizer to start the cleaning process.  A true odor neutralizer will break down airborne odors and continue working on surfaces as it settles.  Smoking can leave behind a thick layer of residue on surfaces, which can be challenging to remove. The worst-case scenario would be yellowing and sticky stains on walls, ceilings, and upholstery. However, this usually takes months to years to accumulate. Then check for any damage to carpets, curtains, and other furnishings.

Image of person spraying sterilizing fog
3. Clean Surfaces Product recommendations-Peroxy Kleen, Kem-Zyme & Odor Sorb

To remove smoke residue from surfaces, use a commercial solution containing a strong oxygenated or probiotic product. The residue is an organic mixture that, if not a severe case, will be broken down by a good probiotic cleaner. * Please refer below to see our recommendations.

Apply your cleaner to surfaces such as walls, ceilings, and furniture. Agitate the product into the fibers of carpets, furniture, and other porous surfaces. For extreme cases where guests might have been in a property for months, you may need a professional carpet cleaning or restoration company. Using a sponge on cabinets and walls with Kem-Zyme will help break down these organic stains and odors.  You may need to repeat this process to remove all traces of smoke residue. An environmental degreaser or a Safer Choice chemical like Drop n Go Degreaser works for heavy build-up and is safe.

4. Clean Fabrics

Smoke can penetrate fabrics such as carpets, curtains, and upholstery, leaving behind a strong odor. Using a bacteria-based product will safely remove odors and stains from the affected fabric. Scrub the fabric with a soft brush, and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Once the material has dried, vacuum the fabric to remove any residue. 

5. Deodorize the Space

After cleaning, spray your space again with a commercial-grade odor-neutralizer. Be careful choosing fragrances because what might be pleasant to you can be extremely offensive to others. Essential oils are natural but expensive and require proper chemistry to work. Mixing them with water will leave an oily residue, cause oil stains, attract dirt, and increase the chances of complaints.

Image of person spraying air freshener in home

6. Replace Filters and Air Vents

Smoke can clog air filters and vents, reducing the efficiency of your HVAC system. Replace all air filters and clean all air vents to ensure proper airflow. If you have central air conditioning, have the system professionally cleaned to remove any smoke residue.

7. Professional Cleaning

If the smoking damage is severe, you may need to hire a professional cleaning service. A professional cleaning company can use specialized equipment, such as an ozone machine, and techniques to remove smoke residue and odor from your Airbnb. This option may be more expensive, but it can save you time and ensure the space is properly cleaned.

By following all the steps above, you can remove as much smoke damage as possible; however, how do you ensure this kind of incident doesn’t happen again? Try installing a smoking detection device such as WYND Sentry. The WYND Sentry can detect cigarette and marijuana smoke with more than 99% accuracy to prevent unwanted smoke before it causes damage. Sentry will send an alert to the owner’s smartphone if smoking is identified on the property. From there, example warning messages are provided that can be sent to the guests. If the incident persists, the property owner can use Sentry’s powerful reporting to support reimbursement claims. Beyond smoking detection, WYND Sentry can also detect loud noise above a certain decibel level, notifying the host if any parties are occurring in the property and therefore mitigate those damages as well.

Image of WYND Sentry with app screen display

In conclusion, if you have an Airbnb and guests have smoked in it, it can be a frustrating and challenging situation. However, it is essential to take prompt action to ensure the space is clean and free of any lingering smoke odor. Following the cleaning solutions and strategies mentioned in this article can effectively eliminate smoke residue and make your Airbnb fresh and pleasant for future guests. Additionally, installing a smoking detection device can alert you to any potential smoking in your Airbnb and help you take quick action. With the right approach and tools, you can ensure that your Airbnb remains a smoke-free and enjoyable place for all your guests.

* Sean Kemper-ETI Solutions provides education and training on proper chemical use along with guidance in choosing the right products. We have been a chemical manufacturer and educator for over 20 years in the Short-term and vacation rental space.  To learn more about ETI please visit our site or contact us for more info We are always willing to help.   

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