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Cleaning Nicotine (Cigarette Smoke) Off Walls

Category Walls
Cigarette Burning in Ash Tray
A home occupied by smokers will collect nicotine residue on the walls and other surfaces. This is a guide about cleaning nicotine (cigarette smoke) off walls.


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By 8 found this helpful
May 31, 2016

We bought a cute cottage at the beach, but the walls, everything stinks of smoke. I am in the process of cleaning all the walls. I use Clorox cleaner with bleach. This is a picture of how dirty the walls are. The house was built in 1952 so we have a lot of cleaning to do.

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November 23, 20161 found this helpful
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I find that TSP or TrisodiumPhosphate is great for this and the powdered form is not expensive at all.

Mix it with water, and you can sponge it on with cheap mops, protecting the flooring if you need to.

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By 4 found this helpful
February 12, 2014

I'm currently cleaning an estate, and this is PROOF that nicotine can be washed off of the walls with vinegar, and ammonia. I didn't even use the baking soda with the concoction! :) Also, if you use a Scotch-Brite Dobie, it works much better than just using a rag! Happy cleaning!

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By 4 found this helpful
June 30, 2015

Our apartment has been smoked in for 15 years. All walls were originally painted white, but now are a lovely shade of yellow/brown. We decided to stop smoking (yay us!), so now I have begun the arduous task of cleaning walls. I've tried many of the tips here. Great tips all, however, none quite up to the challenge.

Last week, I spilled some Dr. Bronner's almond castile soap on my grill. The grease disappeared completely when I wiped it off! Today, I tackled the smallest room. I put the castile soap directly on a Dobie, scrubbed the wall, wiped it with a hot damp microfiber and voila! Came. Right. Off!

I didn't even wear gloves, and the smell is fantastic! Next comes the fresh paint! Hope this helps someone. I love this site :)

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

November 26, 20113 found this helpful

What is the best product to use to clean nicotine and cooking grease from walls?

By G. Riggs

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November 27, 20112 found this helpful
Best Answer

What are the walls made of? I did ours first with pine oil and water, using a squeezed out sponge mop. Then the last cleaning was with Murphy's oil soap. Then the very last was with Old English or Scott's Liquid gold furniture oil (I had little bits of both). The walls in the home we had at that time were 70's wood paneling, and some were painted. It worked great!

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November 29, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

TSP or Tri Sodium Phosphate is the best thing I have used, and I was a painter. It's either available in dry form to mix with water or liquid. Use a mask and goggles, as it's not good to breath it in much or splash in your eyes.

It works really well. Hope that helps. PBP

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November 29, 20113 found this helpful
Best Answer

Half vinegar half water will not only cut the nicotine from the walls while leaving the paint on, it will also remove the odor of the nicotine. Yes, the vinegar smell will dissipate overnight. Promise.

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November 29, 20111 found this helpful
Best Answer

I use a cleaner called Awesome, sold in Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc. stores. Very cheap yet very good.

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February 4, 20122 found this helpful
Best Answer

Use a little ammonia, a little white vinegar, a squirt of dawn dish soap, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and some hot water - at least one gallon of hot water. This takes nicotine off your walls fast and you don't have to go back over it to rinse. I have even used Easy Off Oven Cleaner in the blue can on stubborn areas on the wall. With that though, you have to work very fast because it will remove the paint right off of the wall.

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November 25, 20133 found this helpful
Best Answer

I used white rubbing alcohol and a handi-wipe. Because alcohol evaporates quickly that was the only cloth that worked. I completely soaked the rag no need to wring out and wiped down wall. Follow immediately with a wet towel(not one of the good one's) . The nicotine came right off. I still have the handiwipe but the towel had to be tossed. Good Luck.

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July 22, 20160 found this helpful
Best Answer

When my brother and sister-in-law passed away their son needed help getting the house cleaned up and ready for sale. All 3 were smokers and the walls and ceilings were completely coated. I tried many methods then stumbled on the absolute best and EASIEST way to do it. I used WINDEX window cleaner and the swiffer wetcloths. Since the cloths are used with a pole it makes doing the walls and ceilings easy. Just spray a section at a time (make sure to start at the top as the nicotine runs down the wall) and follow with the wetcloths. You do go through a lot of the cloths but I discovered later they can be wrung out and reused a couple of times before having to toss them. The windex and swiffer method took all of the nicotine off and also neutralized most of the smoke smell leaving it smelling clean and fresh.

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By 0 found this helpful
January 27, 2014

I am looking for home remedies to get nicotine off of painted walls and paneling in the easiest way.

By Tonya from Little Rock, AR

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February 3, 20142 found this helpful
Best Answer

Half water and have white distilled vinegar applied freely and repeatedly until the sponge or towel shows no nicotine residue - just wait till you see how well this cuts and removes the truly icky yellow mess! The vinegar 'aroma' will dissipate in about a half hour after the last wipe-down leaving the room/house odor free.

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March 18, 20142 found this helpful
Best Answer

I found this recipe many moons ago and always keep it close by. It is the fastest way I know of to remove Nicotine , and is a general cleaner for painted walls and woodwork.

1 Cup Ammonia

1/2 Cup Vinegar

1/4 Cup Baking Soda

1 Gallon Hot Water

I mix the ammonia, vinegar, water first then slowly add the baking soda. Do this over the sink as it can fizz up.

Using a large sponge or rag, first wipe with the solution then wipe again with clear water. I only wipe it again if it is a real heavy build up your trying to remove.

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March 18, 20130 found this helpful

Nicotine in the wall makes us sick, with cough and sore throat. Can I clean the walls with cleaner or do I have to paint over?

By Emil D

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March 18, 20131 found this helpful
Best Answer

TSP or Tri Sodium Phosphate is the best thing you can use. It's in powder or liquid form. Best stuff you can get.

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November 8, 20110 found this helpful

How do you clean paneled walls and get cigarette smoke film off?

By Brandy

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November 9, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

When we moved into our first home, it had the same problem. First, get 2 really cheap sponge mops. I mopped the walls the first time with bleach and hot water, just mix according to label directions for general cleaning. After that dried, I did the same with Pine-Sol, then the same thing again with Murphy's Oil Soap. The last thing I did was rub over the walls with the 'liquid gold' types of wood preserver.

Use the first mop for the bleach mixture, and the second for the Pine-sol, oil soap washes. I just used all our rags to put the Old English on the walls.

If your home is like mine, it will be on the ceilings, the floors, carpets, and inside the kitchen cabinets, even inside the fridge. All of them got the same treatment. The carpets got pulled out and replaced with linoleum.

Good luck to you!

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November 11, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

For paneled walls, you could try Avon Skin So Soft. Water could discolor paneling so if you must use water solutions, do so sparingly. Dusting sprays such as pledge or old gold are also good for cleaning paneling as is Murphy's oil soap.

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March 23, 20150 found this helpful

Can wallpaper be covered with paint and not be effected by the underlying nicotine? Is there any undercoat that can be used?

By K Hassett

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March 24, 20154 found this helpful
Best Answer

You'll need to prep the surface first by using a 1-1 ratio solution of vinegar and water - use a wrung out sponge and figure on at least three sessions of cleaning. Cleans, degreases, and deodorises, now that's win-win-win!

No need to rinse, and the strong vinegar odour will dissipate within an hour or so - you may want to have a fan or open window to ventilate whilst cleaning but the fumes won't kill you if you choose to do this without ventilation. Wait at least 48 hours before trying to apply paint, more if your room is humid or cold or both.

The vinegar and water wash will remove the nicotine and a good bit if not all the stain. Use Kilz or a similar product because really, Kilz is like a gold-clad guarantee, but really you shouldn't need it because the vinegar and water will remove any film and grease or other problem that might cause bleed-through.

I learned this after being a smoker for years, and also as a landlady. Works a treat and I've never known it to fail.

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April 16, 20130 found this helpful

I would like some advice for getting cigarette smoke off of walls and painted woodwork. I tried using Scrubbing Bubbles on a small area of my painted work.
Wow, it was amazing. It feels a little sticky. Should I wash it before painting and with what. Can you use it on varnished woodwork?

By Joan

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April 22, 20132 found this helpful
Best Answer

LOL, you're asking several questions at once:)

Re getting the cigarette smell out-a wash with vinegar and water (half water-half vinegar) will safely clean, disinfect, and even 'prep' walls for painting, all at the same time. You may want to wash twice if there is a lot of nicotine (will show as yellow on the sponge and will turn the vinegar-water wash solution yellow too). Don't rinse, vinegar 'fragrance' will dissipate after about an hour and take the stench of the cigarettes with it.

As an FYI, vinegar is a great cleaner. It kills mould safely (no potentially lung damaging chemical reaction as happens with bleach), it disinfects and deodorises incredibly well, and is just about the most inexpensive, cost effective cleaning agent around. A shallow bowl in room corners is a safe (pets won't drink it but if they do it won't hurt them) air freshener, just for one example.

Now, about the Scrubbing Bubbles-did you read that part on the label about being careful when using on painted wood?:) The sticky you mention is because the cleanser in the product has 'eaten' through the surface of the paint and you will need to repaint.

To repaint effectively (that is, to keep your new paint where you put it without peeling and blistering) you will need to prep your walls in accordance to what type of paint you need to paint over.

If oil based paint (usually the glossy paints but not always so it's best to find out if possible), you'll need to either sand or scrape the paint off your surface, then use a primer to cover and prep surfaces that have been painted with an oil base paint.

If a latex (water base) paint was used (usually flat, matte, and semi-gloss but again, not always), generally a simple wash with something that will 'rough' the surface is sufficient. You can buy (if in the US, not sure about other countries) a product called TSP that works great as a cleaner and surface prep wash for latex painted surfaces.

Vinegar and water will also do the job on the flats and mattes; the semi-gloss applications are usually best prepped by the TSP wash.

Hope this helps:)

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February 19, 20140 found this helpful

How do I remove nicotine safely from dry wall without doing any damage?

By Margaret L from Florence, AL

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
February 24, 20141 found this helpful
Best Answer

If it's finished dry wall, meaning it's been mudded properly and then painted, it's safe to use half water-half white vingear as a cleaning solution. Apply with a wetted and wrung sponge or soft cloth - it may take several cleanings to get the nicotine completely off.

Once the sponge/cloth doesn't show any 'yellow' after a swipe, use plenty of clear water to rinse. From personal experience, this works a treat, also 'deodorises' the room as you clean.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 9, 2016

How do I remove cigarette residue and odor off walls without removing paint and without leaving a chemical odor? The residue is a result of one year of smoking.

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May 5, 20140 found this helpful

Is nicotine a grease?

By Ann

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September 30, 20140 found this helpful

I am not positive, but my landlord, who has the apartments painted with semi-glossy paint, said he uses a de-greaser cleaner that he buys at a dollar store to wipe the walls down with. He's owned these places for quite a while, so he's probably tried everything and this is what works for him. He swears by it, but I've tried it and it seems to work so-so.

What I have a problem with is where pictures were hung, I cannot get that part to come as clean as the rest of the walls, therefore, it leaves where the pictures were hanging a brighter color. I've yet to find anything that will get the rest of the walls to the color of where the pics were hanging.

I've tried vinegar/hot water/baking soda, the de-greaser spray, ammonia/hot water/baking soda, ammonia/baking soda, oxy clean/hot water and possibly more I can't think of right at this moment. Perhaps I've not tried the 'right' degreaser.

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By 0 found this helpful
April 12, 2016

We just found out from our next door neighbor that the people who rented the mobile home we just moved into this February were smokers. We got sick to our stomachs because this is the 5th time we moved due to horrible smokers in apartments. When I wipe the walls with a damp tissue there is a yellow stain on it. We're thinking maybe its the cheap paneling or it could be from the smokers. We want to clean the walls (big house) and want to use the best stuff. From what I read vinegar and water or Murphy's Oil Soap are both good. Which one should I use for the walls? I will have to do one room at a time.

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February 24, 20150 found this helpful

Where do I buy ammonia?

By Joel R.

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February 24, 20150 found this helpful

I get mine at the super market in the aisle with cleaning and laundry supplies.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 13, 2015

I am cleaning out the home of a dear friend who recently passed away. He smoked for many, many years. I have had the walls cleaned, Kilzed and repainted and the carpets cleaned. I am now trying to figure out how to clean the wall plugs and light switches. I bought new plates to go around them, but don't want to have to hire an electrician to come in and replace the actual plugs and light switches. Help! I have to have the house ready to go on the market in 3 weeks.

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May 27, 20140 found this helpful

I just rented a home which was inhabited by smokers. I read about removing nicotine from walls. However, what is the best solution for cleaning wood trim and interior doors?

By Jeannie from Pekin, IL

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February 2, 20150 found this helpful

Try Oxyclean with hot water! Must Sit for up to 10 Minutes! Also; 'Beekeepers Friend'; and 'Simple Green'; and for detailed work hydrogen peroxide! Vinegar and multi-purpose cleaners barely work! All of the suggestions need to be rinsed though!

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April 3, 20140 found this helpful

How do I wash walls with heavy cigarette smoke?

By Andrea L.

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July 19, 20140 found this helpful

T.Z.P., cleaner is the best!

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By 0 found this helpful
September 21, 2013

How can I remove nicotine stains from walls to prepare for repainting?

By Sharon E. from Louisville, MS

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September 26, 20130 found this helpful

The only thing I have ever found that works effectively is dishwasher detergent dissolved in water. Or you can use a regular cleaner such as Mr. Clean or Lysol in water with a little bleach added to the water. Good luck. Hope you enjoy your new colors!

Editor's Note: Be very cautious when mixing cleaners together, especially those containing chlorine or bleach. You can accidentally create a toxic gas that can be extremely harmful.

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July 29, 20130 found this helpful

I have lots of nic traps (bric-a-brac) throughout my home and have to clean these items of yellowing/browning that gets sticky once wet. When dry you only notice the discoloring. Anyway, great advice from you on walls. I tried the ones I did not know about with excellent results. Can you help with my nic traps or do I just purchase stock in water and soap lol.

By toe knee

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August 7, 20130 found this helpful

Bric-a-brac can go in a dishwasher, unless it's something with fabric on it. I wash light fixtures and anything else that requires thorough cleaning in my dishwasher; it cleans in all the nooks and crannies that would otherwise use up time and old toothbrushes. :-)

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June 3, 20130 found this helpful

I live in an apartment that was smoked in a lot, you can see where the picture's used to hang on the walls. I have heard of products like T.S.P., and I do not want to use anything that is harmful to the environment. So any suggestions that any of you out there have would be appreciated. Thank you.

By Carrie L.

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June 4, 20130 found this helpful

Vinegar mixed with water is a great way to clean and deodorise at the same time. It works a treat on nicotine! Half water-half white vinegar in a bucket and use a sponge or dishtowel to wipe away the ick. The vinegar smell will dissipate taking any odor with it.

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May 7, 20130 found this helpful

I just purchased an old home with old wood paneling that reeks of nicotine. What is the best way to clean it?

By Donna G

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May 8, 20130 found this helpful

I have done an entire home that was suppose to be white but it was literally yellow with dripping nicotine :P So there is really no easy way but if you get a good scrub brush a bucket and some water/bleach solution it will come off nicely and smell much better. It does take some elbow grease but produces nice results. don't forget eye protection,gloves and a respirator of some sort and lots of fresh air while working with bleach! And for painted surfaces after being cleaned and drying they can be primed and repainted. But wood should only need cleaned and dry.

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August 29, 20130 found this helpful

What is the best and easiest way to clean cigarette smoke off of walls?

By Bob

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December 30, 20120 found this helpful

What product will clean nicotine of walls the best?

By jrp

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June 3, 20120 found this helpful

How do I clean cigarette stain off walls and woodwork?

By David

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By 3 found this helpful
February 10, 2011

How do you clean nicotine from walls?

By BHB from PDX

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

August 26, 20090 found this helpful

I have purchased a mobile home to rent. The walls are stained with nicotine. I have tried every product we have heard of from Clorox Cleanup to Windex, even simple green and had no success. The nicotine comes off but the stain remains visible where items were hanging on the wall before.

The linoleum is stained severely by having been dirty with greasy rusty looking stuff on it for so long. Have used several products and they do not take the stain up.

Does anyone have suggestions on stain removal?



Cleaning Floor

"Mean Green" is a product from Dollar Store, about $2.00 for a big spray bottle. Might help on the walls and the floor. I've used it on Vinyl Siding on the house and it takes off those pesky black spots. It's concentrate, takes several rinsings.

Buildup of the wrong floor cleaners for linoleum can cause a sticky floor. Wash the floor well and apply a different one, something in the line of Mop and Glo. I use generic Murphy's Oil soap for my no wax floors. Plus, an eraser will take up the scuff marks off of no wax floors. (09/10/2003)

By Yarnball

Cleaning Floor

I realize this is an old post, but if anyone is interested, I found the "magic eraser" (by Mr. Clean I think) really works wonders. It doesn't last long on tough projects, but it does work! It makes maintenance easy with everyday cleaning methods. I used it on a tough oven hood that nothing else worked, and it removed all the grime in the break room at my husbands automotive shop. Now that was putting it to the test! Best wishes and happy cleaning! (03/15/2004)

By Christy

How can I get Nicotine off the walls and stains off my linoleum?

I had to clean before moving into my father-in-law's house and nicotine was all over the walls. I went to the automotive department and purchased "Super Clean". It took off all of the nicotine and just about any other hard to clean place in the house. Remember, however, that it will take off paint if you leave it on a painted surface for more than a few seconds. The longer you leave it on the more it removes. I have even used it to strip a wood floor for refinishing. Works real well on paneling though. (03/29/2004)


How can I get Nicotine off the walls and stains off my linoleum?

For some reason, trailor homes absorb those stains and odors more than most. When my husband and I first got married we moved into a trailor home that the previous owners had lived in for over thirty years. They were both chain smokers. We used straight ammonia. I HATE USING AMMONIA, BUT IT WORKED. Keep the room well ventilated and for the ceiling we used an old mop and eye gear (to protect from drips). (05/07/2004)

By Tawnda

How can I get Nicotine off the walls and stains off my linoleum?

One word: BLEACH

I used one part bleach and two parts hot water in a spray bottle to clean the nicotine off my walls before I painted them. Spray the walls so that the bleach water drips like crazy, then wipe with clean sponge, dry with an old towel.

WARNING! Use a mask to keep from inhaling fumes as bleach will burn your lungs and keep windows and doors open. Also, it may strip paint a bit if you scrub instead of wipe. The bleachy smell goes away after a day. (12/15/2004)

By Gina

How can I get Nicotine off the walls and stains off my linoleum?

Mix ammonia with hot soapy water and prepare to use elbow grease. worked for me. (06/26/2005)

By Vic

How can I get Nicotine off the walls and stains off my linoleum?

Greased Ligthening! $3.00 a bottle at The Dollar General Store! It's amazing! I am a professional cleaner that cleans during college student turnovers, and believe me, they don't teach cleaning to students! Just spray it on the walls and the nicotine will just roll off. I do recommend rewashing the walls after GL with soapy hot water.Once you use GL, you'll get rid of all your other cleansers and have extra room in your cabinet! Good Luck! (09/05/2006)

By Bethann

How can I get Nicotine off the walls and stains off my linoleum?

I used all the products mentioned here...and it took off the paint...except the 'magic eraser' when I repainted, I used KILZ to seal the wall before I repainted. (01/18/2007)

By Debi Sue

How can I get Nicotine off the walls and stains off my linoleum?

Use TSP. You can get it at the hardware store. Sometimes you can get it at the grocery store. Good luck. (02/23/2007)

By Kathy Anderson

How can I get Nicotine off the walls and stains off my linoleum?

Paint with kilz paint. it works on a lot of other things like crayons and ink pen. (06/07/2007)

How can I get Nicotine off the walls and stains off my linoleum?

You can try a spray product that comes out of most walmart automotive sections or any auto supply place. It's called 'Bleechwhite' check the spelling, but it is primarily used for rubber tires on cars and white walls...rubber gloves and plenty of white throw away rags on hand and ventilate room while you do your thing a section at a time so you don't knock yourself! goodluck (11/14/2007)

By Billy

How can I get Nicotine off the walls and stains off my linoleum?

Unless really striving for vintage effect, there's no reason not to replace yukky old linoleum (with stains well soaked in) with modern vinyl flooring. Yup like the lady said, ammonia will cut nicotine real good. The only thing better is to mix half and half Pine Sol with it. (03/19/2009)

By Red Neck

How can I get Nicotine off the walls and stains off my linoleum?

Greased Lightening is wonderful at removing nicotine stains from walls. (07/24/2009)

By Cynthia P.

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