What do vacuum sealers and apartments that smell like a stale ashtray have in common? Absolutely nothing other than these two messages showing up in my mailbox at the same moment—both of them in response to earlier posts.

I just read your column on simple science that makes Nok-Out work to eliminate really difficult odors. Can you give me some quick advice on how to apply that method to rid my apartment of the smell of smoke? The apartment is new. The problem is that the crew smoked in here during construction. It’s yuk! Thank you, Judy



Dear Judy: You do have a terrible problem, and I’m so sorry about that. Have you contacted the owner or manager? Assuming you have but that hasn’t worked out very well—and you do not want to move—Nok-Out absolutely can oxidize (neutralize) the odor of tobacco smoke. The challenge is to make sure Nok-Out comes in contact with every square millimeter of a surface that the smoke has penetrated. And that’s a real challenge!

When treating a large open area where the odor became airborne and most likely is now clinging to every bit of the ceiling, walls, flooring, cracks, and crevices—Nok-Out must do the same in order to reach and then oxidize all of the stink.

To do this, you need a room humidifier or vaporizer that produces cool mist (Nok-Out should not be heated to or near the boiling point) and has a capacity to hold enough Nok-Out to run for a number of hours between refills. When using Nok-Out in a vaporizer or humidifier, use it full strength. If it is a maintenance dose, then you can dilute with 1/3 water.

The best inexpensive humidifier that meets these criteria is Honeywell Germ-Free Cool Mist Humidifier HCM-350. Its large capacity will allow it to run for up to 24 hours straight between fill-ups.

Nok-Out has been thoroughly tested by the EPA and found to be completely safe for pets and humans while a room is being deodorized like this. However, keep in mind that as the stinky stuff is being oxidized, it will more than likely give off the smell of a swimming pool. That’s the sign that Nok-Out is doing its job!

RELATED: The Simple Science of Eliminating Bad Odors

Once allowed to dry fully, that will go away taking the cigarette odor with it. So it’s up to you if you want to sleep and live there during the hours of treatment. Just know that this would not pose a health issue. It could take a number of days to fully treat the entire apartment.


On a personal note, I had a stinky situation awhile back involving a sick grandchild and an upholstered chair. I cleaned the area (which involved the cushion as well as one arm and side of the chair) thoroughly and worked hard to remove the resulting stain. This was no easy task, but visually the chair looked fine.

Then I used Nok-Out full strength to completely saturate the area. I wanted to make sure it soaked into the upholstery more deeply than the original problem might have penetrated the area. I removed the cushion and stood it up so air could circulate.

As the chair dried, the smell got worse! It was bad. I was experiencing the science of Nok-Out and it was not pleasant. It was the combination of the offending odor plus a stale, rancid swimming pool—the best way I can describe it. In a word: Awful!

Honestly, I considered getting rid of the chair, assuming I had the mother of all challenges—the one and only that went beyond even the ability of Nok-Out to eliminate. But I hung in, believing that Nok-Out was my only chance for success.

Within a few days, I was thrilled. Slowly but surely the smell dissipated. Within a week’s time, no stain, no smell. It’s been more than a year and not the smell nor a stain has returned. Not even a hint. My confidence and love for Nok-Out increased by a hundredfold!

You can order Nok-Out direct where the price includes shipping, or order Nok-Out by phone at 1-866-551-1927. Tell them Mary sent you!


Just a few days ago I purchased a Ziploc Vacuum Sealer. It’s still in the box, unopened. A couple of hours later I could have kicked myself when I opened the newspaper and read your column on the FoodSaver vacuum sealer. Now I’m thinking of returning the Ziploc machine and getting the FoodSaver. Before I go to the trouble, I wanted to know if the Ziploc sealer might be comparable to the FoodSaver, in your opinion. Patti

Dear Patti: The Ziploc machine does not offer one of the most important features and reasons to have a vacuum sealing system—a jar sealer. It would be fairly useless for me as I use the jar sealer (both the regular and wide mouth sealer because I have both kinds of jars) accessory more than any other feature on my FoodSaver because I love to store everything from popping corn to fresh fruit in glass canning jars.

Even perishables like strawberries and lettuce, when stored in a glass jar—and kept in the refrigerator—last so much longer than they would in other types of containers. I do love my FoodSaver for all of its features but would be lost if I couldn’t use it to vacuum seal jars and wine bottles too. FoodSaver also makes a set of canisters that are as useful as they are attractive—just make sure you never put them in the dishwasher.

MORE: Ways to Use a FoodSaver That Have Nothing to do with Food

A FoodSaver Vacuum Sealing System plus a few accessories will cost more than the Ziploc sealer but it will be 100 times more useful. For me, that makes it hands down the best option. You will use it continuously once you see what a FoodSaver can do to extend the useful life of the food you buy. My advice is to return the Ziploc and get a FoodSaver.
First published: 1-26-18; Updated 4-17-19

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