How To Stop Smells From Coming Through Walls – 4 Methods

Whether the smoke smell or any other unpleasant odor is seeping through the walls of your home or coming from another apartment, it is safe to say that this is a highly undesirable situation.

The foul smell isn’t the only issue here, as certain odors such as secondhand smoke can be unhealthy for you – and there is no reason for you to keep up with it.

While you certainly can’t change other people’s habits, there are a couple of methods you can use to block or neutralize the smells coming through the walls.

What smells can get through the walls?

Everyone wants their home to smell fresh and clean at all times. You can use numerous cleaning hacks and natural air fresheners to achieve this.

However, certain unpleasant odors are coming from the walls, other rooms in your house, or other apartments in your building that you have no direct control over.

Let’s see which smells are strong enough to steep through the walls and the adverse effects of some of them. 

1. Cigarette smoke

Cigarette smoke is one of those unpleasant smells that can quickly steep through your walls. It can also be one of the most difficult smells to get rid of.

If you live in an apartment building, there is a good chance that you could be exposed to cigarette smoke. Therefore, even if you don’t smoke yourself, you’re still at risk of being inundated with secondhand smoke.

Regarding secondhand smoke, there is no such thing as a safe level of exposure, as it contains more than 7,000 chemicals, including hundreds that are toxic.

There is no safe way to protect yourself from secondhand smoke except to avoid it altogether. Even brief exposure can be harmful.

That being said, cigarette smoke is one of those smells that are not just highly unpleasant but also somewhat dangerous. 

Cooking smells

While cooking smells undoubtedly don’t belong in the toxic category, they’re not always welcome – especially if they’re not coming from your kitchen.

Cooking smells can steep through the walls of your home and get into your furniture, carpets, curtains, and clothes, which is not ideal, especially if your neighbors often prepare aromatic food.

Moreover, the moisture and oils from cooking tend to stain the walls, which may call for frequent painting. 

Volatile organic compounds

Volatile organic compounds are emitted as gases and include a variety of chemicals, some of which can have adverse health effects.

Concentrations of many VOCs are generally higher indoors than outdoors. These gases are emitted by a wide array of products used both outdoors and indoors. 

Any product that emits an odor, including those with “natural” or “organic” ingredients, contains VOCs. Some VOCs can cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, and nausea – especially if the exposure to these gases is consistent and the concentration is high.

VOCs are caused by a variety of sources, both indoors and outdoors. Indoor sources include building materials, cleaning products, office equipment, paint, pesticides, and hobby supplies. 

Gases from these indoor sources can quickly steep through the walls and linger in your house, jeopardizing your health.

How do you stop smells from coming through walls?

While certain unpleasant smells can be blocked, others will enter through your walls, especially if there are gaps or cracks.

However, you can still use specific methods to neutralize the bad odors and their unwanted effects on your home. 

1. Use an air purifier

Air purifiers can help you handle the bad smells seeping through your walls. 

An air purifier can help to remove bad smells from your home by trapping and removing airborne particles, which will improve your home’s air quality.

What’s more, an air purifier can also help reduce the dust and pollen levels in your home, which can trigger allergies. Lowering the number of allergens in the air can help to ease symptoms such as sneezing, coughing, and itchy eyes.

You also want to prioritize an air purifier with an activated carbon filter, which can remove common airborne toxins like Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). 

Be sure to look for an air purifier with a high CADR rating, which measures its ability to clean the air in a given size room. The higher the CADR rating, the more efficient the purifier will be.

Keep a few things in mind when choosing an air purifier. First, consider the unit’s size and your home’s needs

For example, if you have allergies or asthma, choose a unit specifically designed to remove allergens from the air. 

2. Ensure all gaps and cracks are sealed

Unpleasant smells will quickly come through the walls if there are gaps or cracks, so it’s important to seal all those gaps and cracks as soon as they appear. You can use caulk to do this job, or you can use weatherstripping.

You also want to check for gaps and cracks in your windows and doors, as unpleasant smells could enter your home through these tiny openings.

What’s more, these cracks in the walls could be a good place for mildew and mold to grow, and if these spores are inhaled, they can cause severe respiratory problems.

So, it’s essential to ensure that any cracks in your walls are properly sealed to avoid any potential health hazards

Sealing the cracks is also an excellent way to help keep your home energy-efficient, as it prevents warm air from escaping.

3. Use an extractor fan

An extractor fan is another great option to eliminate unpleasant smells in your home. An extractor fan works by drawing out the smelly air from your home and expelling it outside. 

You can either buy an extractor fan or make your own. To make your extractor fan, you will need:

  • small electric fan
  • plastic container (that is big enough to fit over the fan)
  • small hole in the bottom of the container
  • length of flexible tubing
  • tape


  1. Place the fan in the center of the plastic container.
  2. Use the tape to secure the fan to the container.
  3. Make sure that the blades of the fan are pointing downwards.
  4. Cut a small hole in the bottom of the container.
  5. Insert one end of the flexible tubing into the hole.
  6. The other end of the tubing should be placed outside, away from your home.
  7. Please turn on the fan and let it run for a few minutes to remove the bad smell from your home.

4. Block the adjoining vents from your neighbor

First, identify where the smells are coming from. If you can’t pinpoint the source, try to determine which vents are shared between your home and your neighbor’s. 

Once you’ve done that, you can seal those vents with duct tape or other adhesive to help keep the smells out. 

Also, consider talking to your neighbor to see if there’s anything they can do to help prevent it from happening.

Communication with your neighbor is definitely recommended, especially if cigarette smoke or other VOCs come through the walls.

Perhaps the best solution would be for them to use better ventilation or an air conditioning system – mainly if their habits cause these inconveniences. 

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