How Long Does Thirdhand Smoke Last In A House?

Wednesday 11th October 2023

Ellen Warren

No comments, yet!

Old and messy living room


Thirdhand smoke is a less-known but equally harmful aspect of tobacco use. Although it might not be as visible or smell as strong as secondhand smoke, it poses a real danger to you and your family's health. 

At ICE Cleaning, we offer comprehensive cigarette smoke odour removal services that ensure the complete removal of thirdhand smoke lingering on your property. Our team utilise advanced techniques that effectively eradicate harmful substances left behind by cigarettes and electronic smoking devices.

Read on to learn more about thirdhand smoke and how long it lasts in a home.

What is thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is a dangerous extension of secondhand smoke. Unlike its counterpart, thirdhand smoke does not simply disappear over time but lingers on surfaces and in dust long after the smoking has stopped.

The term refers to residual nicotine and other chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke. These toxins are then absorbed into materials such as cloth, carpets or even your walls, remaining for long periods.

How dangerous is thirdhand smoke?

The hazards of thirdhand smoke vary from structural to physical health. This type of residual nicotine and other chemicals stick to various indoor surfaces like clothes, furniture, and walls. 

By being present around materials that have absorbed toxic substances, you could be at risk of health issues depending on the length and type of exposure. This could include touching an affected surface or inhaling lingering particles.

Studies have revealed that continual exposure to thirdhand smoke can be hazardous and cause various health issues in the long run. It is linked with several health problems, such as respiratory issues and even certain types of cancer.

Children face greater risk because they often touch contaminated surfaces and put their hands in their mouths, increasing the chance of toxic substance ingestion. Even adults are at risk, as regular contact with these particles may affect lung function.

For those who have lived in environments where smoking is present, ensuring a clean and healthy living space requires professional assistance to clear any lasting impacts on air quality.

How long does thirdhand smoke linger?

Thirdhand smoke clings to surfaces and fabrics in your home for a long time. Research shows it can linger from weeks up to several months, even after rigorous cleaning efforts.

The stubborn nature of thirdhand smoke is down to its chemical makeup. Nicotine reacts with common indoor pollutants to create carcinogenic compounds, which adhere to most surfaces they come into contact with.

These harmful residues get re-emitted back into the air or react with other chemicals present in the environment over time. Even if you have quit smoking or aired out a previously affected room, traces of toxic substances could still impact your health.

How thirdhand smoke can damage your home

The residue from cigarette smoke clings to walls, furniture, and fabrics long after the cigarette has been extinguished. Nicotine and other harmful chemicals in tobacco smoke bind with dust particles, leading to discolouration and stained surfaces over time.

The impact extends beyond aesthetics, causing severe deterioration of materials inside the house. Besides physical damages, selling a property affected by thirdhand smoke could be challenging due to potential buyers' apprehensions about thirdhand smoke hazards.

What to do when your home is damaged by thirdhand smoke

If you have ever smoked inside your property or moved into a place previously inhabited by a smoker, you must air out the area. Although this may not eliminate toxic particles, it can help reduce the potential harm that it may cause to your health.

Purchasing an air purifier will also help remove some of these particles, however, you must not rely on these devices, even those with HEPA filters. The best solution is professional cleaning, which can identify the source of the odour and remove it completely.

Do not try to clean visible stains or wipe down discoloured surfaces as this may agitate the particles and put you at risk of inhaling them.

Frequently asked questions

Is thirdhand smoke as bad as secondhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke can be just as harmful, even though it's less visible. It sticks around long after the cigarette is put out.

What is thirdhand smoke?

Thirdhand smoke refers to residual nicotine and other chemicals left on surfaces by tobacco smoke that are hard to remove.

What is an example of thirdhand smoke?

The stubborn smell of cigarettes in a room or car long after someone has smoked there is thirdhand smoke.

Is it possible to get rid of thirdhand smoke?

Opening windows and using air purifiers can help reduce it, but removing all traces requires professional help.

Get in touch

If you are struggling with the air quality in your home, our team offers professional smoke odour removal services. Our technicians at ICE Cleaning can effectively remove stains and odours left behind by cigarettes or fires, restoring your home to a safe state and preventing further damage to your health.

We are available 24/7, 365 days a year, and can be reached at 0208 066 0360 or With our standard cleaning services, we also offer emergency cleaning for time-sensitive jobs or emergency incidents that require immediate clean-up. Our team are stationed nationwide and ready to help at all hours.

Reilly Peters

Reilly Peters

Business Development Manager

Add to contacts

Speak with me today,
I’m here to help

By asking you a few questions either via phone or email I can immediately provide a realistic estimation of the cost.

You’re in good company. We’ve cleaned for the following commercial clients… View all

Customer reviews

Our happy customers have rated our service as
Excellent on Trustpilot.

View All Reviews

Why choose us

Why choose us?

  • Cater to a wide variety of cleaning situations
  • Nationwide coverage, available 24/7
  • Cater to commercial and domestic clients
  • Free survey provided prior to quotation 
  • Emergency response team
  • Offer a bespoke service designed to suit all your needs 
  • All technicians hold professional health and safety qualifications, including BICSc, IOSH, Dewpoint Professional & Safe Contractor 

We’re fully accredited

We place best practise, professional expertise and health and safety at the core of our business. We’re fully compliant with all legal obligations. You can view a list of our accreditations below, or visit our Health & Safety page for more information.

Dewpoint® Professional Corporate Membership
0208 066 0360Open 24/7

We use cookies

If you continue without changing your settings we'll assume you're happy to receive our cookies.
If you'd like to change this just update your browser settings. Find out more.

Okay. I got it.