How to Clean Cigarette-Smoke Film

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Smoking in the house can lead to cigarette smoke film on walls, furniture and appliances. Some wall coverings may be irreparably damaged, but painted walls and other surfaces can be cleaned successfully with much perseverance, depending on the extent of the film accumulation. It's important to clean the film from walls before painting as the film affects paint coverage adversely and can lead to a bad paint job. Metal appliances tend to form layers of film and take some scrubbing. Cleaning cigarette film from a house is possible, but will be time-consuming.

Things You'll Need

  • Bucket or sink of warm to hot water
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup ammonia (optional)
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • Scrub brush and old, clean toothbrush
  • Old rags
  • Old towels
  • Latex or rubber gloves
  • Fill the kitchen sink or bucket with warm to hot water. The water must be comfortable to your skin as you will be putting your hands into it a lot. Change the water when it becomes discolored.

  • Add 1 cup of baking soda and 1 cup of white vinegar to the water. You may also add 1 cup of ammonia, but this is only recommended if you are working with the windows open, as the fumes can make you sick.

  • Put on your rubber or latex gloves.

  • Saturate the old rags with the water mixture and scrub, in a circular motion, the object covered with cigarette film. Re-wet the rag when it loses dampness.

  • Use the scrub brush, the water mixture, on surfaces that can't be damaged, such as floors and metal appliances. Rub with a rag to clean debris while scrubbing.

  • Use an old, clean toothbrush to get into narrow grooves, such as along baseboards and door frames, to scrub the film using the water mixture.

  • Continue scrubbing, rinsing and toweling off to check on your progress. The scrubbing may need repeating multiple times to remove all of the film. Towel dry when finished scrubbing an area.

Tips & Warnings

  • Using straight baking soda and water to form a paste is advisable on many surfaces if the water mixture isn't working. The baking soda's abrasiveness will act as a scouring powder and break through stubborn layers of film. This is not recommended for easily ruined or antique surfaces, but works well on refrigerators, tile and kitchen cabinet tops. Taste of Home recipe consists of:
  • 1/4 cup baking soda, 1 cup ammonia, 1/2 cup white vinegar and 1 gallon of warm water.
  • Always work in a well-ventilated area if using ammonia. Never mix ammonia and bleach. Bleach is not advisable for cleaning cigarette film because of the potential of widespread damage to fabrics and carpets.

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