How to Clear the Lingering Smell of Weed Smoke Before Selling a House

published Jul 26, 2023
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2 photos, one of the front of a house with tile stairs, white trim, gray siding, green front door, one of a green and red tile table with a know smoking placard
Credit: Left: David Papazian/Shutterstock; Right: OTOBOR/Shutterstock

Cigarette smoke is known for leaving yellow stains on walls and tanking a home’s resale value. But as marijuana becomes legal in more states (23 and counting), it begs the question: Can weed smells also leave a mark on homes and dissuade potential homebuyers? 

The short answer: Potentially.

“Whenever a home has a smell, marijuana or otherwise, it can hurt the resale,” says Rick Albert, a broker associate with Lamerica Real Estate in Sherman Oaks, California. “The reason being is not every homebuyer knows how to get rid of the smell. Even though it may be easy, their perception is their reality.” So, if a buyer is touring your home and gets a waft of cannabis, it could be an “ick” and suddenly turn them off.

For that reason, Albert always recommends airing out the home and getting rid of any signs you’ve smoked in the property. (In other words, put the rolling papers away). 

Better yet, don’t smoke indoors: Researchers from San Diego State University say that smoke residue — whether it’s from nicotine or cannabis — accumulates over time and clings to carpet, walls, cupboards, and other places in a household, sticking around years after smokers leave. The phenomenon is known as thirdhand smoke and residue can have some harmful health effects.

As far as clearing away marijuana residue when you’re moving out or listing your home, it actually tends to stick to walls more than cigarettes, explains Chris Willatt, the owner of Alpine Maids in Denver, Colorado, one of the first states in the country to legalize marijuana. However it’s not usually as problematic, as most people tend to smoke less weed than cigarettes, he explains.

Willatt suggests using an enzyme cleaner on your surfaces to help neutralize any lingering weed smells. Air purifiers can also help decrease the smell if they’re used while smoking (but again, experts recommend taking it outdoors). 

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) doesn’t tend to leave visible stains like nicotine, but it can still permeate various surfaces like walls, upholstery, and carpets, which can cause persistent odors, explains Karina Toner, the operations manager at Spekless Cleaning in Washington, DC.

Here are a few more tips for getting weed smells out of your home, according to Toner.

Walls: Use a mild detergent solution to remove any residue and odor when you’re wiping down walls. For more stubborn odors, try a vinegar and water solution with one part distilled white vinegar and three parts water. Mix the solution in a spray bottle and apply it to the walls with a clean cloth or sponge.

Floors: Vacuum carpets thoroughly and consider steam cleaning them to remove any embedded odors. For hard surfaces like wood or tile, mopping with a floor cleaner should do the trick. 

Furniture: Upholstered furniture can absorb the smell of marijuana smoke. Vacuum the upholstery and use a fabric cleaner or upholstery shampoo to deep clean and deodorize the fabric. For leather furniture, use a leather cleaner and conditioner to eliminate odors.

Fabrics: Curtains, drapes, and bedding should be laundered following the care instructions using odor-eliminating detergents and fabric softeners. Pay attention to pillows and cushions, as they can harbor odors and may need to be cleaned or replaced.