How to Remove Cigarette Smoke From Wallpaper

cigarette smoke
cigarette smoke (Image: smoke image by sasha from

Removing cigarette smoke and stains from wallpaper takes time and some elbow grease, but it can be done with a homemade cleaning solution that will break down the tar and nicotine. Vinyl papers can be washed with water, but older papers may be thin and more fragile, so be sure to apply the cleaning solution on a small test area first.

Things You'll Need

  • Two buckets
  • Clean white towels
  • Large sponge
  • Rubber gloves
  • Ladder
  • Drop cloth
  • Vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • Dawn dish detergent

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Prepare the walls for cleaning by dusting or vacuuming dust and lose dirt particles from the surface. Place either a drop cloth or old sheet on the floor to avoid any mess or damage.

Dust Walls
Dust Walls (Image: duster image by Elena kouptsova-vasic from

In a large bucket, combine 1 gallon of warm water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup plain ammonia (non-sudsing) and 1/4 cup dish detergent. The dish detergent will act as a degreaser and help break up the greasy tar film. Vinegar and ammonia will eliminate odors left by cigarette smoke.

Cleaning Supplies
Cleaning Supplies (Image: wash room blues image by bgroovy2 from

Test a small corner area. Wipe the wallpaper with cleaning solution using a large sponge and rinse with warm clean water. See how the wallpaper reacts to the solution before continuing.

Large Cleaning Sponge
Large Cleaning Sponge (Image: sponge for cleaning image by Serghei Velusceac from

Starting at the top of the wall and working in a circular motion, apply the cleaning solution with a large sponge. Make sure the sponge is not over-saturated as you do not want to soak the wallpaper.

Let the solution sit for a minute, but do not let it dry. Rinse cleaned area with warm water and wipe with white towels.

Clean White Towels
Clean White Towels (Image: three towels image by Horticulture from

If wallpaper is very soiled it may be necessary to repeat the process before moving on to the next section.


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