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How to Get Rid of Smoke Smell on a Computer or Macbook Pro

Updated on February 12, 2010

Why does it smell like smoke?

Whether you're around a smoker or your computer was in a fire but wasn't harmed, cigarette smoke smells can be a hard to get out permanently. For this hub, I'll go over different "level of cleaning power" that you can use to get rid of smoke smells in computers, laptops, Macbooks, Macbook Pros, Mac Mini's, iMac's, and more.

Bucket of soapy water

1st Level - Soap and Water

For this level, get a small bucket of warm water and put either some dish soap or some laundry detergent in the bucket of water. Make sure it's a fairly small amount. Next, find some paper towels or a leftover rag and dip it in a small amount of the soapy mixture and start gently cleaning the outside of the case in a circular motion. Make sure you don't use too much soapy mixture on the case so that water doesn't get into the computer components. You can not use this mixture (or any cleaning agent for that case) on the internal components of a computer (like the motherboard or RAM). Fans should be ok depending on the type of fan it is (make sure it's unplugged).

White Vinegar


2nd Level - White Vinegar

If the soapy mixture didn't work (make sure you give it plenty of time to dry). Try taking 1/2 part water and 1/2 part vinegar and use it like you would with the soapy mixture. Try and let the mixture stay on the case for a few minutes if possible (once again, make sure that no liquid gets inside the case). The vinegar will help dissolve the tar and smoke particles (thus eliminate the smell). You may want to consider repeating the soapy water and vinegar cleaning again if the smoke smell isn't reduced to a point where you can't smell it.


3rd Level - GooGone

If the above two methods were not good enough to get rid of the smell on the outside case, you can try using some GooGone or similar material. First, take the GooGone (either the gel or spray) and first put it on a rag or paper towel. Next, gently wipe the outside the case much like you did with vinegar and soapy water. Let a very small layer sit on top of the case for 10 minutes. Then wipe off the rest of the remaining GooGone with a paper towel and clean again with vinegar and soapy water. Next, let a fan blow on the compute overnight (or for at least 8 hours). This will help remove the smell and dislodge the smoke particles. Make sure you don't get an GooGone inside the computer or on any computer components.

Ozone Machine

ozone machine
ozone machine

Final Level

One of the best people to ask how to remove smoke smells is by asking a firefighter what they recommend. You may want to give it a shot if you don't know what to do.  When a home has smoke damage that is on the wall, floor, carpet, etc, disaster cleanup companies will use a Ozone machine which emits Ozone material that smoke particles cling to and are essentially pulled out of the material they are currently on. You may want to check out Ozone machines online if all the above steps have not worked for them.


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    • profile image 7 years ago from bear, de, 19701

      yeah, nice info. I have sent it to my friend, smoker.

    • profile image

      rshemeley 7 years ago

      My mother is a smoker and this would benefit her since she (very unfortunately) smokes while sitting at her Mac. I've sent her a link. Thanks!