Controlling Odors From Marijuana Use

It’s common knowledge that marijuana friendly states are increasing across the U.S. Some states support the recreational use of cannabis, while some permit only medical marijuana. And there are others still that have decreased or eliminated the legal consequences for cannabis-related offenses. As these regulations change, the question becomes, how will the facility cleaning industry be impacted?

Consider this, to date 25 out of the 50 states, plus Washington D.C., have adopted laws legalizing marijuana in one way or another. And a growing number of other states are considering making the leap. What it comes down to is that because of these changes, marijuana usage will likely increase in large facilities.

The hotel industry, for example, is already experiencing the impact. In fact, a branch of tourism called “pot tourism” or “kush tourism” has evolved around the idea of staying in hotels that allow cannabis usage in some form. This means that those in the facility cleaning industry will have to adapt, right?

One way that facility cleaning managers can adapt is by considering how to remove odors associated with marijuana usage and whether or not standard methods of removing tobacco smoke would work instead. Is it necessary to invest money in marijuana-specific cleaning products and air purifiers? Does the staff need to be trained on new cleaning techniques? There is a lot for managers to think through.

What’s The Difference?

The truth is that marijuana usage in hotels causes minimal extra cleaning compared to tobacco use, and in most cases requires less effort. The proper cleaning supplies are almost always available in well supplied facilities, even in hotels that do not allow smoking.

Removing tobacco smells is a common problem in most hotels. For example, the cleaning staff has to wash all fabric in the room, steam clean the carpet, change the air filter and may even wipe down the walls.

Odor eliminators can also be used to remove the smell. They can be sprayed, placed in the air conditioning units or left in the rooms.

This lengthy cleaning process can mean that the room cannot be rented out until the odor issue has been resolved. So, the hotel loses money and the cleaning staff has to spend more time cleaning.

However, when it comes to marijuana odors, cleaning techniques are usually easier.
The standard cleaning techniques described above for tobacco can be applied to marijuana smoke, but often times, they are unnecessary.

According to Adam Baisley, the general manager at Silverthorne Bud & Breakfast, Silverthorne, Colorado, it is as simple as using common odor removing products.

“Our procedures for mitigating odors associated with cannabis consumption are relatively basic,” he says. “We keep our rooms and public spaces well ventilated with a plethora of odor removing products that run the gamut from professional air fresheners and sanitizers to natural incense.” 

He adds that before renting fancy machinery or steaming the carpets, departments should simply try airing out the room and using a common deodorizer. Aerosols and gels are common ways to neutralize the odors, and there are water-soluble additives for use in floor care programs, too.

In short, marijuana smoke is typically not as pervasive as tobacco smoke. Therefore, extreme cleaning isn’t always unnecessary.

Additionally, most hotels have policies in place to help mitigate the cleaning requirements associated with marijuana usage, which makes things easier on the cleaning staff and facility managers. For instance, many marijuana-friendly hotels only allow smoking in designated areas — usually outdoors or in well-ventilated spaces. If smoking of any kind is allowed in the guest’s room, the guests are placed in designated smoking rooms, which limits the scope of the cleaning.

Bowman’s Bear Creek Lodge, Hope, Alaska, only allows marijuana for adults 21 years or older with a valid ID. Guests can only smoke on their private decks, at a campfire after 10:00 p.m. with no children present, and in a screen tent they set up in the woods. According to the owners, Kent and Melanie Bowman, these areas do not require special treatment by the cleaning crew. In fact, they say that they have “no odors” and there is “nothing to clean up.”

Another policy that can help eliminate odor associated with cannabis is to allow the use of vaporizers rather than methods that produce heavy smoke.

“We do not allow tobacco products to be smoked within our facility. The entire premise of using a vapor pen for cannabis consumption is to heat the material to a point where you hypoallergenically vaporize the substance. That means there is no smoke or chemical pollutants,” Baisley says.

In other words, establishing “no tobacco” policies and encouraging vaporizers over traditional methods of smoking could also be a way to decrease cleaning.

Policies such as these are common, so retraining staff to clean up marijuana-related odor and mess is unnecessary in most cases. However, if similar practices are not in place, making some institutional changes could make cleaning easier in the long run.


According to both Baisley and the Bowman’s, there is a common misconception about marijuana friendly hotels. They are sometimes thought of as party hotels. This could be why there seems to be an unfounded concern about cleaning them. After all, cleaning up after partiers is a lot of work. But, marijuana users are not necessarily partiers.

The Bowman’s claim that, “the clients are well heeled, experienced travelers — not the party crowd. Our guests would be here enjoying our beautiful resort regardless of the cannabis-friendly status. This is just one more way to extend hospitality to our guests.”

Baisley agrees and adds, “Contrary to popular belief, there is rarely an instance where a minimal level of hygienic awareness, coupled with a dose of due diligence, is not enough to maintain a stellar level of cleanliness.”

Likewise, Mark Thorson, owner of Juneau, Alaska-based Capital Inn Bed & Breakfast, indicates that at the most, they have to empty ashtrays and sweep the floors.

If marijuana users do not require more cleaning up after than non-marijuana users, what is all of the fuss about?

When it comes down to it, there appears to be a mistaken belief about cleaning marijuana-friendly hotels. Yes, cannabis does produce an odor, ashes and dust, but most facility cleaners will not have to worry about developing new procedures to deal with it.

Most facility managers have methods in place for removing tobacco related mess and odor. Those same methods can be used to deal with most common marijuana problems. So, don’t let traditional methods of cleaning up after tobacco users go up in smoke, use them in marijuana-friendly facilities to combat odor problems. 

ANGELICA DUDENHOEFER is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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Case Study: Hotel Successfully Eliminates Cigarette Smoke Odors