How to Remove Smoke Odor from Electronics

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Cleaning laptop screen (Photo: @TatianaMara via Twenty20)
Unlike spills that leave a visible sign of stains and blemishes, smoke damage is often less obvious. Don’t let it fool you, though. Even when barely evident, vapors can harm your electronic devices just as much, if not more. And even if you can get them working like new, it can still be hard to remove the smoke odor from electronics.
Here are a few tips to help you eliminate the unwelcome smell. Before trying any of them, remember to unplug your devices and remove any batteries and memory cards.

1. Air it out

The first thing you can try when removing the smoke odor from electronics is to air out your devices. Place items by a window or outside if you have a safe and covered area. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh gentle breeze to get the smell out.

2. Spray with compressed air

You can blow out the dust and ash that is creating the smell with an air compressor. It’s important to move the air through the device, making sure to hit every crevice, vent, and port. Make sure you don’t use too much pressure or you may damage or dislodge a part. You should probably try this technique outside, so you don’t spread the buildup inside your home or office.

3. Trap particles with an air ionizer

An air ionizer is an effective tool to trap particles like dust and smoke. It works by charging ions that attract these elements. When they gather together, the deposits can be collected through electrostatic into a central area. All you have to do is wipe up the deposits with a damp cloth.

4. Use vinegar

When removing smoke odor from electronics, stay away from harsh cleaners. A safe alternative is vinegar. Mix equal parts of vinegar and water. Before using, unplug your device and remove the casing. Lightly dampen a soft cloth or cotton swab with the vinegar mixture, making sure to squeeze out all excess liquid.
Carefully wipe down the interior, taking care to avoid bare parts like circuit boards. Don’t forget the inside of the casing, too. Once done, use a dry soft cloth to wipe everything dry or use a blow dryer set on cool. Make sure to do this before replacing the casing or you may trap moisture.

5. When all else fails, try baking soda

Often odor absorption techniques can work to eliminate smoke odors from your devices. You can use baking soda, charcoal, or coffee grinds.
There are two ways to use this method. The first is to unplug your electronics and place them in an airtight bag along with the odor absorption material in a container with vents. You want to make sure the baking soda or other materials do not spill into your electronics.
The other method you can use is a wire rack. Unplug all your devices and place them on an elevated wire rack. Closely underneath on a lower rack or the floor, place the baking soda, charcoal, or coffee grinds in an open container, so they can draw the odor from above. Both of these techniques can take a few days or even a few weeks to work.
Removing smoke odors from your electronics can extend the lifespan of your devices, as well as remove the smell from your home. If you find none of these tips end up working for you, there are also professionals trained in smoke and soot removal that you can consult with.