How do I remove the smell of cigarettes from my hotel room or holiday apartment? Cheap tips to help you breathe easy in the UK and abroad

Smoking in hotels is usually strictly controlled, but what happens if rules don’t apply or the previous inhabitants of your room were rule-breaking, hard-inhaling nicotine desperados?

Tips and tricks to get rid of cigarette smells from your hotel room

Tips and tricks to get rid of cigarette smells from your hotel room

Dry your watery eyes and purge that ciggie-tainted accommodation with our odour-busting guide to a great night’s sleep.

What’s the problem with cigarette smoke?

Many people enjoy smoking, but for non-inhalers, the fumes can launch an acrid attack on eyes, nose and throat. It’s not simply a blitz on smokers’ liberties, either, the heavy odours can spark asthma attacks and other breathing-related issues.

What to do if your hotel room is contaminated with cigarette smoke?

So, you’ve reached your room only to be greeted by an acrid smog of secondhand smoke and tar-stained fixtures and fittings! Here’s what to do next.

1) Consider using the law in UK hotels

In the UK, smoke-free legislation prevents smoking in many public areas, such as pubs and bars, but hotels enjoy an exemption from this – along with the likes of care homes and prisons. As a result, many hoteliers will help accommodate all needs by providing a number of smoking rooms. They must, however, inform you if you’re to be allocated a room that’s previously been smoked in. If you are given a smoking room without asking for it, or being told it was the only accommodation available, you will be within your rights to demand a new, non-smoked-in room – or refund. This should also apply in non-smoking rooms where a previous guest has flouted the rules.

2) Consider using the law in European hotels

If travelling beyond the UK, rules covering smoking in hotel rooms differ across member states. However, many have specific legislation that means smoking is either banned or limited to selected rooms. Find out if the country you’re visiting offers protection against rooms used by smokers by clicking below.

Europe-wide guide to whether smoking is permitted in hotel rooms

3) Pack some baking powder

Popping some baking powder in your bags could help freshen a hotel room or apartment that’s contaminated with ciggie smoke. Sprinkle this around room or leave in small cups on tables, window sills and desks etc. The substance will help fumigate the room and neutralise odours. This method will work best for stays of a few days.

Tip: Make sure you keep the powder in its original packing, as loose bags of white powder could spark questions at airport security if travelling abroad.

4) Scented baking powder

The day before you leave add 10-15 drops of essential oil to a box of baking powder, shake, then leave to stand for six to eight hours. This can then be sprinkled over the carpet in the smoke-infested room. Once down, leave for a few hours then ask housekeeping to hoover the room. This should help shift clingy odours from the fibres. If staying for a few nights, repeat as needed.

5) Crack open the vinegar

Stashing a bottle of white vinegar in your bag could ease the strain on your eyes and nose when stopping over in a smoky room. Grab some of the room’s cups and half fill two or three with the vinegar and distribute around the room – targeting areas with the least ventilation. It’s claimed the vinegar will help dissipate the stench – and it can also be used on a cloth to wipe sticky nicotine and tar stains from surfaces.

6) Pack some charcoal

The humble burger burner is also a versatile tool for soaking up odours such as stale ciggie smoke. Swerve the expensive products on the market, simply grab some barbie briquettes and tie a couple in some old, lightweight socks. You can then distribute around the hotel room and suck up the stench with ease. Just go for natural products without mesquite or easy-light additives.

Tip: As a bonus, the charcoal will suck up moisture, so could also help remove any musty, damp smells afflicting the hotel room or apartment.

7) Wave a wet towel

If the contamination is fresh, grabbing a towel from the bathroom, wetting it and swirling it around will capture a good amount of offending stench particles. Just remember to leave enough dry towels for your shower!

8) Apple fresh

Apples are good to eat, but just as tasty when it comes to cleaning up the atmosphere in a smoky room. Grab several of the fruit, cut in half, place on a plate and distribute around the room. Leave each one for several hours and it’ll suck up the fumes, replacing them with a fresh fruity aroma… Just don’t be tempted to take a bite.


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