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Invisible and Long Lasting: Thirdhand Smoke
By the Quitter's Circle Staff
August 01, 2017

Invisible and Long Lasting: Thirdhand Smoke

You’ve probably heard of secondhand smoke and that it can affect your loved ones and pets - but did you know about the residue smoking leaves behind? This residue is known as thirdhand smoke – and while you can’t see it, it can lurk in your home long after you’ve quit smoking. Read on to learn more about thirdhand smoke and what you can do to eliminate some of it.

What is Thirdhand Smoke?

Thirdhand smoke is a film of invisible toxic particles leftover from cigarette smoke. It can stick to almost any surface, and once it does, those noxious layers build up and can stay there for months! Thirdhand smoke has a far reach - sticking to the floors, rugs, carpets, curtains and walls of most rooms. It can even cling to your hands and hair! To top it off, it may be a challenge to remove thirdhand smoke from these areas and surfaces.

This all may sound surprising, but there is good news: by quitting smoking, you can reduce the amount of cigarette smoke residue in the air, and the residual toxins in your home. However, it is difficult to fully remove these toxins: actions other than quitting smoking, such as deep cleaning, need to be taken.

But fear not! Since you already know that quitting smoking can help you save money: consider using some of that extra cash to help combat the presence of thirdhand smoke. Using national averages, we’ve calculated what you can do with the money you save from not buying cigarettes. Take a look at the areas where thirdhand smoke may exist and suggestions on how you can use your smokefree savings to clean the residue.

  • Toys: Thirdhand smoke may settle on toys around the house. After just one day, you can purchase a new toy and start a new smokefree collection for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or pets.
  • Walls: When the toxic particles of thirdhand smoke layer upon themselves, they can even layer onto the walls of your home. After a week of not smoking, you may be able to afford enough paint to repaint your bedroom.
  • Counters: Because thirdhand smoke can spread so far, its residue can settle on many surfaces. After two weeks of not buying cigarettes, you can hire a service to do a deep clean of your entire home. This is a great first step at removing some of the leftover residue.
  • Air vents: Another aspect of thirdhand smoke is that it can get into your vents and circulate through the air, depositing residue throughout your entire home. After two months of smokefree savings, you can have your vents cleaned, and reduce residue in the air.
  • Carpets: Just as thirdhand smoke residue settles on every surface, it can get deep into your carpet, making it very hard to clean. After those first three months, you can also hire a carpet cleaner to do a deep scrub, or try to do one yourself, making your home potentially a safer place for pets and children to crawl.
  • Couches: Once thirdhand smoke settles onto a surface, it can be very hard to clean. Fortunately, after a year of having quit smoking, you can either reupholster your couch, or treat yourself to a brand new one!

Whether you’ve already quit smoking or your Quit Date is yet to arrive, consider taking extra measures to help eliminate all remnants of smoking from your house. Create a space that you are proud to call a smokefree home. 


See additional quit smoking resources from our partner American Lung Association.