Smoke particles are extremely small, which means they will permeate almost everything; this is a real problem if you are a new homeowner moving into a house where the previous owner smoked. As well as a bad odor, you will also have to deal with nicotine which can be particularly difficult to remove. What can you do?
One of the first steps to take when you get the keys to your new home is to open all windows and doors to get good airflow going. Next, place odor absorbers throughout the house. Coffee grounds, baking soda, and citrus peel are all good natural odor absorbers.
Replace all the light bulbs in the home as these will have nicotine residue on them and will diffuse a bad odor into the air when switched on. You should also replace filters in air conditioning units and the HVAC system. Hard surfaces, except wood, can be cleaned using an ammonia-based cleaner which is good for removing nicotine.
You will likely want to give your new home a fresh coat of paint. When selecting paint, research one that is good for nicotine-coated walls, otherwise you will find that brown residue will start to seep out through the paint.
Cleaning nicotine out of carpeting is very difficult, and you may find it better to remove it altogether. Make sure you also give the floor a thorough cleaning and dry it out before installing new carpet or other types of flooring.
Mike McFadden, Certified Master Home Inspector in Orlando, FL