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This is a guide about cleaning nicotine stains from vinyl wallpaper. Nicotine in cigarettes mixes with oxygen and creates a yellow stain that can accumulate on your walls.
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How do you clean nicotine stains off walls? Both wallpaper and paneling?
By AnnaBelle64 from Dresden, TN
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I need to clean cigarette smoke off wallpaper without tearing it up.
By Pam from Tateville, KY
Try wiping or even mopping it down with a mixture of warm water and 1/2 c white vinegar, you could even add a little bit of dish soap (just a drop or two) in a bucket and wipe. Use a sponge mop to get close to the ceiling. I've used this on painted walls as well. You really don't need a lot of the vinegar as it does a great job. Change the water often. (07/05/2010)
Can nicotine be safely removed from wallpaper? Also, how do you remove it safely from paint, etc.
Maggie1960 from IN
There's only one thing that might help you. When we had a house fire and the professionals came to help with the clean up. They know all the tricks (like for example 1 can of Coca-Cola added to your regular washing machine load will remove all traces of smoke smell). Anyway, they used this dry-chemical sponge to "erase" the smoke from our wallpaper and woodwork. I believe they might be called "Dry Cleaning Sponges". You wouldn't believe how wonderfully they worked! These sponges are made for use by professionals, so you could look in your yellow pages under "smoke damage" or "water damage" call these guys, The yellow page ads are placed by the contractors, (they hire others to do the dirty work). You'd want the name of their subcontractors, the guys that come to actually clean up the smoke. Maybe they'd sell you a sponge or 2. Not many know about these little gems, but, once you use one you're hooked.
* Nicotine: Years ago the whole family decided to re-do my ex mother-in-law's trailer for her. She was a chain smoker and we tried to paint over the nicotine. Tried being the word. We made the mistake of not using a super-duper primer (like Kilz, Zinsser, or Griper) and with every coat of paint, it looked like we'd covered over the nicotine, but as the paint dried, the nicotine kept seeping through. It took 4 coats of paint and still there were problem areas. Nicotine has an "oily" and "tar-type" base, so it does tend to seep through paint. Plus it's sticky, so that doesn't help either. Good luck.
Here's several sites for the dry cleaning sponges. Check out the top one first, as they have a list of what it will clean.
* To find more, you'll need to Google the words "chemical sponge". Unfortunately, some places (like the last URL) only sell cases. But ask them if they'll send you a "sample" sponge if you send them $10 for shipping and handling. Who knows? It could work. Other wise, you'll have to get your friends and neighbors to go in on a case with you of these wonderful cleaning tools. They're good for cleaning anything that you don't want to get wet, or anything with soot and smoke that can't be removed any other way. They used them on my wood kitchen cabinets and on my painted walls too! I talked them into leaving me one. They work for quite a while. I don't know how they clean so well without being wet, but they sure do the trick. If you've ever seen a smoke damaged room, you'll know what I'm talking about.
Those ozone generators work wonders. The pros also brought one of these in after the fire. My house smelled clean and fresh in only 2 days time. The smoke had gotten in to the furnace's "fresh-air" intake and had spread smoke all over the home to every room. This ozone generation made the difference. That, the Coca-Cola in the wash, and a lot of Febreze! But you'll need to leave the house when the ozone generator is running. They remove oxygen from the air and aren't safe to run while you're at home.
Remember: If you live with a smoker, you too and your kids are also smoking. (01/29/2008)
Just FYI, it's tar you're trying to remove. Pure nicotine is a clear liquid, with a viscosity like mineral oil. So remember that it's dried tar, and think degreasing. God bless you. (01/31/2008)
We are getting ready to move into a trailer that was rented to smokers before us. They must have been heavy smokers, the walls are stained yellow. You can see outlines of where pictures hung. It's flat out disgusting, and I'm a smoker. I always take it outside though.
Anyway, I've been cleaning this place for 2 days now, scrubbing walls, cabinets, windows, mirrors, and any hard surface. I've tried Oxiclean, Awesome, Mean Green, and even bleach to get these walls clean. There is no hope for them. We have to paint. Although I will say, the Awesome stuff did wonders for the kitchen cabinets. It took all the nicotine and grease off, and now the cabinets look almost brand new. (09/09/2008)
I have found that Magic Erasers work great for vinyl wallpaper. Takes a little (not much at all) elbow grease, but well worth it. (09/20/2009)
How do you clean wallpaper that has nicotine stains?
Sue from Blackstock, SC
If the lady has been chain smoking for 30 years that stink must also be in the carpets, drapes, and upholstery too. Sue, the smell of cigarette smoke never comes out of fabric and that will include your clothing. Please consider moving before this woman ruins your health as well as your wardrobe. Don't mean to preach but I come from a long line of chain smokers and I've seen what second hand smoke can do. Good luck. (08/11/2007)
By perfumed fan
I had good success on walls and vinyl wallpaper with Oxiclean in warm water and a Scotchbrite sponge.
Wow-this house has got to reek! You won't be able to get the stains out of wallpaper without ruining it. On the floor, try strong mix of TSP and elbow grease. If all else fails, use oven cleaner. Spray on a small area. Leave on for 30 or so min., scrub off with soapy water and a brush. Wear gloves and a mask so you don't inhale the stuff. I did this once and it is hard work.
Do you realize that you will now be exposing yourself to all the liabilities of second-hand smoke? (08/23/2004)
My first suggestion: before beginning I'd discuss this with my soon-to-be spouse. If it seems like a good idea to him/her, I think someone (you or spouse) should run it by the mom for approval. A lot of people become very offended when anyone else makes decisions on their behalf regardless of the good intentions involved. And who knows... your future M-I-L may have finally gotten these things the color she wants!
We old single/widowed/divorced folk are often quite set in our ways and are particularly likely to cop an attitude about such things. (08/25/2004)
Go to your local professional cleaning store, they have products there for removing nicotine. I use one called Black Out and it takes off all sorts of nasty marks.
I used a product called Awesome I bought for a dollar at The Dollar Tree Store. It is yellow in a clear spray bottle. It works. I used it full strength on wood work, painted walls, and wall paper walls. It removed horrible nicotine on all my walls that was caked on and saturated. I was careful not to let it drip on the wall paper because it will run and cause water marks. I also did not rub back and forth on the wall paper because it will take off the paper. I quickly dabbed and pressed the paper with a clean cloth after I sprayed a fine mist onto the paper. I sometimes saturated a cloth with the full strength Awesome and pressed the cloth onto the paper and then used a separate cloth to dab and press the paper to absorb the yellow and brown nicotine stains. This product does not have harmful smelly fumes. It has many uses and it can be used full strength for tough problems and diluted for others. Eventually I would like to paint my walls, but at least for now everything looks clean. I love it. (09/15/2005)
Mr. Clean Magic Erasers and Mean Green (08/24/2006)
Lots of good ideas, we clean up houses for a living and have done some cat houses and of course the " smoking houses" one lady had a popcorn ceiling and no lie it was chocolate brown, she had smoked there for 50 years. We clean ceilings and walls professionally and floors too. To get rid of the smell you can rent an ozone generator then for the walls and floors we use Clean-n-brite you mix it with water and it makes a hell of a lot of cleaner. The you spray it on and the nicotine just disappears and it removes the smell too. My customers think that it is a magic trick. Buy it from the website: www.clean-n-brite.com