How to Clean Cigarette Smoke Stains on a Wall

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Cigarette smoke permeates into walls to form stains.
Cigarette smoke permeates into walls to form stains. (Image: hand with the cigarette image by Jaroslav Machacek from Fotolia.com)

Nicotine, tar and other chemicals in cigarette smoke can produce unsightly stains on walls throughout homes. Stains and odors cling onto surfaces long after cigarette smoke dissipates. The longer nicotine stains remain on walls, the more difficult they are to clean. Eventually, yellow cigarette stains dull walls overtime, causing them to appear dingy. Because nicotine stains absorb through layers of new paint, affected walls require thorough cleaning before repainting. Fortunately, certain solutions are effective at cleaning cigarette smoke stains from walls.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic bucket
  • 3 gallons warm water
  • 1 cup household ammonia
  • 1/2 cup colorless liquid detergent
  • Spray bottle
  • Sponge
  • Scrub brush
  • Soft cloth
  • Towel

Put on rubber gloves to protect your hands from the ammonia. Open the windows in the room to provide adequate air circulation.

Fill a plastic bucket with 3 gallons of warm water. Add 1 cup of household ammonia and 1/2 cup of colorless liquid detergent to the water.

Mix the solution thoroughly to dissolve the ammonia and soap. Fill a spray bottle with the solution.

Spray the solution generously on the smoke stains. Allow the solution to absorb into the stains for 10 minutes.

Scrub the stains vigorously in a circular motion with a sponge. Use a scrub brush to remove difficult stains.

Dampen a soft cloth with water. Wipe the wall with the cloth to rinse away the solution and remaining smoke residue. Dry the wall thoroughly with a towel.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can substitute undiluted lemon juice or vinegar for the soapy ammonia solution.
  • You can substitute a soft cloth for the sponge.
  • Do not apply too much pressure to the wall while scrubbing, as you might peel the paint off the wall.

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