How to Remove Tar & Nicotine Quickly

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Tar and nicotine leave unsightly stains around your home.
Tar and nicotine leave unsightly stains around your home. (Image: cigarette image by bright from Fotolia.com)

Most people are well aware of the damage smoking causes to the body. It is also damaging to various surfaces and items around the home. Tar and nicotine from tobacco smoke leave unsightly brownish-yellow stains around the house. Walls, clothing, upholstery and the carpet are some of the most common places around the home to find tar and nicotine stains. Remove these stains quickly with the right tools and products.

Things You'll Need

  • Ammonia
  • White vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • Sponge or sponge mop
  • White rags
  • Water
  • Bar of soap
  • Laundry pretreatment spray
  • Chlorine or color-safe bleach
  • Bowl
  • Sodium thiosulfate
  • Eye or medicine dropper
  • Dry-cleaning solvent

Walls

Fill a bucket with equal parts ammonia and white vinegar. Add a few squirts of dish soap and mix it up.

Dip a sponge or sponge mop into the bucket and wring it out. Scrub the stained walls with the cleaning solution. Rinse out the sponge often while cleaning.

Rinse the walls with a rag and clean water. Go over the walls with a dry rag to remove moisture and residue.

Clothing

Dampen the stain with cold water. Rub a bar of soap vigorously over the spot for about a minute. Rinse the fabric in cold water.

Apply a laundry pretreatment spray to the stain. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

Launder the clothing as usual. Inspect the clothing after washing for any traces of the stain. If the stain remains, repeat this process and launder with bleach that is safe for the fabric.

Upholstery

Fill a bowl with 2 cups of cool water. Add 1 tbsp. of liquid dish soap and mix it up well.

Dip a white rag into the soapy water and wring it out. Sponge the cleaning solution onto the stain. Let it sit for 30 minutes.

Blot the affected area with a clean, white rag to absorb any moisture. Alternate sponging with the cleaning solution, letting it sit for 30 minutes then blotting with a dry rag until the stain is gone.

Rinse the area with a rag and cold water to remove any of the cleaning solution. Blot with a dry rag.

Mix 1 cup of warm water and 1 tbsp. of sodium thiosulfate if the stain persists. Use an eye or medicine dropper to moisten the stained area with the solution. Add a few drops of household ammonia, then blot with a white rag to absorb the liquid. Rinse the area with a rag and cool water, then blot dry. Repeat as necessary until the stain is gone.

Carpet

Moisten a clean, white rag with dry-cleaning solution. Sponge the solution onto the stain.

Blot the area with a dry rag to absorb the liquid. Alternate sponging on the dry-cleaning solution and blotting with the white rag until the stain is gone. Rinse with a rag and cool water, then blot dry.

Mix 1 cup of warm water and 1 tbsp. of sodium thiosulfate if the stain is persistent. Sponge the solution onto the stain, then blot with a dry rag to absorb the liquid. Continue this process until the stain is no longer visible. Rinse the carpet with cool water and blot it dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Spray undiluted lemon juice or vinegar onto tar- and nicotine-stained walls for an alternative cleaning method. Scrub with a sponge or stiff scrub brush until the stains disappear. Rinse with a rag and clean water, then dry thoroughly.
  • Sodium thiosulfate is commonly used in aquariums. You can buy it at most pet stores or places where aquariums are sold.
  • Wear rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area when using ammonia.
  • Never mix bleach and ammonia or bleach and vinegar. The fumes produced by these combinations can be toxic.

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