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.
What is the best product to use to clean nicotine and cooking grease from walls?
By G. Riggs
November 29, 20111 found this helpful
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.
November 29, 2011
I use a cleaner called Awesome, sold in Dollar General, Family Dollar, etc. stores. Very cheap yet very good.
February 4, 20121 found this helpful
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.
November 25, 20131 found this helpful
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.
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!
How do you clean paneled walls and get cigarette smoke film off?
November 9, 2011
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!
November 11, 2011
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.
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
March 24, 2015
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.
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
February 3, 2014
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.
March 18, 2014
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.
By Lina D 1
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 :)
Where do I buy ammonia?
By Joel R.
March 16, 2015
Dollar store! Or any grocery store in the cleaning product aisle.
How do I remove nicotine safely from dry wall without doing any damage?
By Margaret L from Florence, AL
February 24, 2014
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.
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?
April 22, 20131 found this helpful
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:)
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
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.
May 14, 2015
I'm not sure it's necessary to replace the plugs and switches unless nicotine is causing them not to work properly. I'd suggest just surface cleaning them with something dry like a stain eraser and just changing the plates, unless you have reason to believe nicotine is making them unsafe to use.
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
February 2, 2015
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!
Is nicotine a grease?
September 30, 2014
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.
How do I wash walls with heavy cigarette smoke?
By Andrea L.
By Sharon E. 1
How can I remove nicotine stains from walls to prepare for repainting?
By Sharon E. from Louisville, MS
September 26, 2013
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.
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
August 7, 2013
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. :-)
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.
June 4, 2013
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.
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
May 8, 2013
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.
What is the best and easiest way to clean cigarette smoke off of walls?
What product will clean nicotine of walls the best?
How do I clean cigarette stain off walls and woodwork?
By BHB 1
How do you clean nicotine from walls?
By BHB from PDX
My mom is buying a double wide in wonderful condition EXCEPT the previous occupants were heavy smokers (as in put one out, light one up). We didn't realize that the walls were coated in nicotine - how do you get it off? I had been wiping the walls with a cleaner thinking I was getting them clean - not so. Please help!
Dab from TN
Depending on the color and texture of the walls, either "clorox clean-up" spray will make it come off on color fast walls, or vinegar on a cotton cloth should make it come right off. It's worked for me! Good luck, Lynda (01/15/2002)
Simple green and lots of elbow grease, and if that doesn't work try bleach - Mara (01/17/2002)
Here's a recipe for an extra strength household floor and wall cleaner that works good on nicotine. 1 gallon hot water 1/2 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax 1/2 teaspoon liquid dish detergent (Dawn cuts grease and would work well for the stains)1 tablespoon ammonia Use gloves because it will be a dirty job.
Rinse your sponge, mop or cloth often in clean water before dipping back into the cleaner so that you won't just be spreading the stuff back on. If you have a sponge or mop with a scrubbie attached all the better. Make sure you rinse the wall well after washing to get off what has been loosened. It does clean it off.Another thing that works is straight rubbing alcohol on a sponge but because it is a large job I wouldn't recommend it except for stubborn spots.If you decide to repaint instead of cleaning, first paint with KILZ. It will seal in the stains so they won't bleed through the new paint job.-- Susan (01/17/2002)
I found that Mr.Clean full strength will take it off quite quickly. I used rubber gloves and an old facecloth, lots of clear hot water to rinse with. Start at bottom and work up though, cause if it runs through the unclean portion,it will leave streaks that will be very hard to scrub off. I'm going back tomorrow with a sponge mop to see if I can clean up a larger area with less scrubbing. (05/17/2002)
I have found that Windex works great also. I use it all the time for my small clean ups as well as my big ones. It's a great grease cutter. For big jobs I buy the big jugs. Pour it into a bucket & use a rag or sponge. It's a good cleaner for the outside of the refrigerator also. (03/01/2003)
The best cleaner for nicotine is no scrubbing, just spray and watch it run.(mean green) sold at all dollar generals and dollar tree stores. (05/08/2004)
I have found that bathroom cleaner works GREAT. I use it for everything. When my pets use to pee in the floor I would get the bathroom cleaner and spray some on it and then scrub. Works wonders. Gets finger prints and dirt off the wall also. (05/20/2004)
Best solution: paint the walls. It is the easiest and produces the best results. Oh, and stop smoking in the room :) If painting is out of the question, laundry detergent, one scoop in a two gallon pail works well.
Mr. clean magic eraser with elbow grease works great. My daughter moved into a new place and the walls were awful. She tried everything and got out the trusty eraser and poof nicotine was gone (05/02/2005)
We just bought our first home. It is 40 years old and filled with 40 years of nicotine covering the walls. I found that spraying fantastic cleaner directly on wall and using wall mop and bucket with water was the only way to break down the nicotine and draw it out of the walls. You will probably need to do this more than once (depending on how bad walls/ceiling are). (06/02/2005)
Use 1 cup vinegar and 1 gallon warm water with a wash cloth. Vinegar cuts through just about anything.
TCP from most any paint store. Works wonders and safe to use.
Old Painter (10/31/2005)
After cleaning the walls (I used Murphy's soap spray), then we called in Service Master. They fogged the house and it's guaranteed for ever. Ours also was a double wide with the furniture. Some way you need to get the smell out of furniture and carpeting. Servicemaster did that for us. We needed one return trip after about 6 weeks. Really works! (10/31/2005)
Hi Dab, let me say this first, my friend has a double wide and NO ONE smoked in her home, her walls still yellowed! She called the mobile home place where she bought the double wide and was asking them about what to do short of painting and they told her it was from the formaldehyde they spray on the walls, counters, etc. to keep the shine on them. When we bought our mobile home the smell from the formaldehyde was so strong we had to let it air for TWO WEEKS before we could move in. It made me and our kids throw up. But any way, that is what they told her, and our walls did the same thing after a couple of years. We primered the walls with Oops! and then painted the color we wanted. Everything is fine now! Good luck. It is frustrating I know. (10/31/2005)
My friend smoked and never opened a window. We cleaned yellowed walls with cleaner called TSP found in Home Depot or store like that hardware stores carry it too. Also air it out after and use vinegar in cleaning carpets and floors
good luck. (10/31/2005)
Use TSP you get at hardware stores and hot water and gloves. I used this on walls in a very old home that was 60 yrs plus old and the walls hadn't been washed for 10 yrs. I washed them and then rinsed and it was just like a new paint job had been done. The walls were dark yellow almost brown when we were done they were beautiful white walls. Have used nothing else for years on a lot of other things Very inexpensive around $8 for a 7 lb box. use use 1/4 to 1/2 cup per gal water app. I adjusted to fit the stain on the walls. (11/01/2005)
I bought a house that had less than desirable occupants in it, needless to say, there was a lot of illegal activity going on in it so they nailed blankets over the windows and then no less than ten people chained smoked in it. I started to rehab and found that paint will not stick to nicotine, it had stained the walls, the fridge and the oven hood. After several attempts to get the stuff off the walls, I found three things work.
Ammonia and water, but open the windows! TSP and a magic eraser for surfaces such as appliances. It worked and I can now say after the rehabbing my house is clear of nicotine.
I hope this helps! Sarah (11/02/2005)
Scrubbing bubbles. spray and watch the dirt run down the wall. (11/02/2005)
I use a mixture of hot water, vinegar, and simple green and it took it right off the interior of my work van. Open all doors because it will be hard to breathe real quick. God Bless You. (02/11/2006)
I have got and old dresser, chest, and head board. They are yellow from the Nicotine I have use all kinda things on it and BAM works the best but it is not getting it any help? (03/27/2006)
I have tried, ammonia, vinegar, bleach, tsp. and the only thing that will take it off. Bleach and hot water is the only thing that I have found that will take off nicotine, cigarette smoke off walls. (03/31/2006)
By mary Olson
The best and cheapest thing to get nicotine off anything like wood, glass, walls etc. is rubbing alcohol. I hope you see this, it really really works! (05/02/2006)
By Shelley L. in CA
My husband and i bought a house where the original owners smoked for 40 years. So we did a bunch of research to find out what kind of paint primer, and cleaners to use. My husband was at the hardware store buying B-I-N ( a heavy duty paint primer) and he ran into a professional painter who told him not to bother cleaning the walls as it just spreads the nicotine around and makes it worse. So he recommended just using B-I-N to paint over it. Saved us a ton of work and it works like a charm. You can paint anything with it and the nicotine doesn't leak through, which is great considering we have to paint almost everything in the house :) We read plenty of reviews that also say B-I-N works better then Kilz. Please make sure to where a gas mask or that your house is very well ventilated before using it. (05/20/2006)
As a landlord I have had two serious cases of houses occupied by hard smokers for years. I tried TSP but it still left a yellow stain. Now I use Tilex and it works very well. I don't know if it is cleaning better or cleaning and bleaching the stain but the results are very good. It might save you one coat of painting. Wear old clothes as the drips will bleach whatever you have on. (02/01/2007)
I am testing everything. Seems to me that oxi-clean is doing the best job, thus far. (04/11/2007)
I know this is an old post, but hopefully someone will find it of some help. I looked at this post earlier today to get some ideas and I took a shopping list of all the things mentioned here for removing nicotine stains. While at Dollar Tree, I came across "LA's Totally Awesome All Purpose Concentrated Cleaner" and figured I'd try it. It was only $1, so I wouldn't be out much if it didn't work. Plus it is concentrated, so if I generously cut it in half, I'd get twice as much. Wow! I was very impressed.
The bottles says to use full strength for nicotine, but I diluted it 2 parts cleaner to 1 part water in a spray bottle, sprayed it on and watched the nicotine gunk roll off the woodwork. (Turn on the vent and/or open the windows for ventilation, and make sure you don't get the mist in your eyes or nose. Just for safety) and wipe down with paper towels and then follow with a damp rag. (Put an old towel or something absorbent on the floor to catch the drips.)I don't think I would try it on painted walls at 2:1 as I noticed that where the spray got on my semi-gloss paint it kinda took the gloss down (on the drywall, woodwork looks great), but this can probably be avoided by applying with a rag instead of a sprayer. Also worked great on my kitchen cabinets. I'll definitely keep this in stock under the kitchen sink and let this be my #1 cleaner. I haven't been this excited about a cleaning product since I bought my first Magic Eraser! (11/16/2007)
I heard that vanilla and water will take the smell of nicotine off walls. (02/14/2008)
Many years ago we moved into an apartment with tan walls in living room & a heavy smoke odor throughout. Kitchen was AWFUL. I bought every cleaner known to exist that I could find. Nothing worked. Then one day, I tried something my mother used to use.
I bought a small box of Arm & Hammer WASHING SODA and some vinegar. Just dumped about a cup of vinegar and a handful of the washing soda in a bucket and added hot water. (Later found some great recipes for these cleaning jobs in a book called "Mary Ellen's Helpful Hints." I then dampened a rag, and went into the living room, where I swiped the rag just above a heat register in the wall. It was MAGIC! And the wall was not tan, it was a pretty pale green.My only problem was this one clean spot was in full view so I had to do the whole HUGE room. Took me a week, after working a job all day, but what a difference. The owner thought I had painted. (He had refused to do so.) You don't have to scrub hard but do have to change the water often, or rinse rag in another bucket before putting it back in the cleaning solution. That stuff turns the water black in no time! (03/20/2008)
If you paint over nicotine its just going to come threw it make your walls look dirty again. Better to wash them, the mean green is a good cleaner takes it off like magic, and if you have off white walls it's good. Bleach doesn't eat the paint away. Bleach just discolors the nicotine, not washes it off. Just use any purpose cleaner, hot water, and arm muscle will get your walls clean. (07/05/2008)
Cleaning solution called awesome sold at dollar general stores work really well also. (08/28/2008)
How do I clean fine furniture that has accumulated years of nicotine residue? I live in a mobile home. My walls are also stained from nicotine--how do I clean this stuff? - Lynne from Georgia
The best product I have ever used is Austin's Orange Cleaner....it's made here in PA. There are national brands of orange cleaner that will work, but not as well. (01/27/2005)
For the walls (don't forget your ceilings either), use a product called tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) - it's sold anywhere you can buy house paint - and it's relatively inexpensive - about $3 for a large carton, and you'll likely only use half of it to scrub your whole house (it stores well too). Basically, it's a powdered mix that you add to water to make a mild acid (so use gloves when using) that eats just about any goo that has adhered to your walls over time. It's what all the professional painters use to prep the walls and ceilings with. We bought a mobile home many years ago that reeked of nicotine - we had to change our rinse water a lot, but it all came off, and you would never know that smokers had lived there previously. (01/27/2005)
We bought a mobile home that was furnished and saturated with smoke. We washed the walls down with Murphy's Soap - not the ceilings. They can't be washed. Then we called Servicemaster to come in and fog. This was 9 years ago and it cost $150. Don't know what it would be today. That fogging is guaranteed forever. We had it done twice and there is NO smoke smell. We close up and go north for the summer and when we return NO smoke smell. It's amazing!! Worth the money. (01/27/2005)
For the FURNITURE, and walls IF they are wood paneling: Liquid Gold. It's in the house cleaning area, but you might have to do some looking for it.
Year ago my friend moved into the same situation and we used equal parts of water and ammonia in a squirt bottle and it worked beautifully. It was wood paneling and it didn't damage it at all.
Keep your area well ventilated and wear a mask for whatever cleaner you use. (01/27/2005)
Scrubbin' Bubbles Bathroom Cleaner works great to clean vinyl wallboard. It does most of the work for you. Just be sure to wipe off any residue with a damp cloth. (10/16/2007)
Awesome Orange is good, also Scrubbing Bubbles, If anyone knows of a better way--please let us know.
By Darby Rose
I am purchasing a new home where there were obviously heavy smokers in the house for a long long time. The walls are plaster!
Does anyone have any "valuable" recomendations about cleaning the residue off of the walls, cabinets, original wood molding, etc. ?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I bought a house last year with nicotine on the walls and a professional painter recommended that I mop the walls with Trisodium Phosphate. I picked up a box at a local hardware store and it worked great! (05/03/2005)
That's exactly what you need to use! I worked in the Paint department of Home Depot for several years. The product is commonly referred to as TSP and comes in a green and yellow box. It will be found in the paint section of your local hardware store. Make sure you wear gloves and follow the manufacturer's directions exactly. TSP can also bleach some fabrics so make sure you remove all curtains etc before you start on a section.
I would also recommend using a product called KILZ as a paint. This product is not only a paint but also a sealer. Often times, even though you wash the walls thoroughly, steam from the bathroom or kitchen can cause the nicotine residue buried deep in the walls to make brown spots on your paint. They sell KILZ at most hardware stores, and they just started carrying it at Walmart too! You can usually have it mixed to any color but I recommend going to Home Depot or Lowes if you want it colored because they use computerated coloring systems. That will insure that all your cans of paint are uniformly colored. (05/03/2005)
My mom and I have had a lot of success cleaning up my grandparents' belongings with foaming bathroom cleaner, like Scrubbing Bubbles or Lysol Basin Tub and Tile Cleaner. My grandparents smoked A LOT for YEARS and it was amazing to see the nicotine residue melt away-- many items that we thought were supposed to have a brassy finish actually had a silver-type finish! (05/03/2005)
I had the same problem and used Oxy Clean with warm water, rinsed with clear water, then painted with Kilz primer (2 coats) and regular paint. Your rags/sponges and rinse water will turn orange, but it really works well and you do not need gloves, mask or anything as it is non-toxic. You can work with closed windows also. (05/05/2005)
Speaking from personal experience, I recommend the amazing quality of KILZ as a primer for the nicotine problem. But under no circumstances should someone use this product in an unventilated room! This stuff comes with a vapor that will stun an ox at a distance. So beware! (03/14/2008)
Hi everyone, I have recently discovered this site and have to say that the tips on here are SO helpful, especially to a young newlywed!
I was wondering if anyone knows how to get rid of nicotine that has saturated the walls. I live in an apartment, and while my husband and I are not smokers, the previous resident(s) were. In our bathroom, I have cleaned the walls and ceiling many times, and the nicotine drips on the wall disappear easily with regular bathroom cleaner. However, they always come back within a week. When we shower, and the steam condenses and drips down the walls, the drops become yellow again with nicotine that I think has saturated into the paint.
I think this is the place in the house where the most recent resident did most of her smoking, since there are several burns on the sink top that appear to be made from cigarettes (don't you just love your first apartment).
My apartment complex isn't likely to fix the problem for me, so I'm turning to you all. I simply can't do a full scale wall and ceiling cleaning every week, and this is just too gross.
We moved into a house that was heavily smoked in - the only things we found helpful were a Odor Removal company (approx $200 for our 3 level house). Carpet cleaning, removing wallpaper and paint. Nothing was real cheap (except for the paint). We also used a Kilz primer that blocked smoke. You may want to check home improvement stores or paint stores for their oops! paint - costs about $5 or less. (09/20/2004)
I used manage apt complexes, and my hubby did the painting and maintenance. The only thing we used was Kilz, available at any home improvement store. If you're on a budget, you can buy a spray can at a time. It workes really well, and sprays on white, probably just like your walls are supposed to look like. Good luck! (09/20/2004)
You might want to clean the walls with tsp let them dry then paint with Kilz stain blocker and then regular paint.
Good luck! (09/20/2004)
If you're just worried about the smell left after cleaning the entire room, here's one that I've successfully used in my home, an RV, and in cars. Every night, or when you are away from home, place a bowl of pure ammonia in the middle of the room and shut the door. After about a week of this the smell should be gone or drastically reduced. The ammonia works for musty smells, and other nasty, ungodly smells as well. It's inexpensive and hasn't ever let me down. Good luck. (09/20/2004)
Kilz will block the seeping stains. I hope the odor of smoke isn't into the walls, tho. I don't know what would block that. (09/20/2004)
My first husband smoked. Although he went outside to light up the apartments we lived in always reeked of that nasty smell and film. After trying everything we got the landlord of one of the places to repaint. this was the best way. I wouldn't even bother trying anything else now. Smoking is such a dirty habit not only for those who choose to smoke but for those of us who have to live in the after math. (09/21/2004)
We cleaned our walls with Oxy Clean - really took off the 75 year accumulation of nicotine - then painted them will Kilz. It has really blocked the stains - and the smell. Just cleaning was good - but did not get it all.
Good luck! (09/21/2004)
Thanks everyone! I will check out these ideas right away! (09/21/2004)
I just remodeled my home, and had to clean the walls of my living room as a prep to painting. Instead of the TSP solution, I tried a cleaner my father had given me. It is Quick-n-Brite. This product is a type of gel-like paste. After using, I almost didn't need to paint! I believe it is available from TV, i.e., infomericials. I have used it since on carpets stains and it works great! (10/10/2004)
I can totally relate to Sara. I paid a small fortune to repaper my master bathroom. The nicotine has discolored the paper. I love the pattern and want to try and clean the paper. What can I use? Kilz works great on painted surfaces. I painted the walls and the popcorn ceiling. Once that was done I painted the ceiling with ceiling white paint and the walls with semi gloss latex. The room smells great now. (02/15/2006)
The way I got rid of the smoke staining was using a product made by the S.C. Johnson Wax Company called "GP Forward". Don't leave GP Forward undiluted on either your painted walls or your waxed floors because it'll peel the paint and strip off the wax. I use it diluted about 5 to 1. Diluted 5 to 1, it should remove the smoking stains just by itself, but if you really want to do a good job, read on...
I use an ultrafine (the light grey ones) Scotch Brite pad available from whatever place the local 3M sales rep tells you sells them (usually industrial supply places) on a "doodle bug pad holder" available at any janitorial supply store and wash the walls and ceilings with that. Get the kind you can put on a pole so you can do the ceilings with a long pole and the walls with a shorter one.
The GP Forward softens latex paint, so you'll find you can scratch it off the wall easily once the GP Forward has soaked in. Don't worry about that, it'll return to normal after it dries. Dip the Scotchbrite pad in a shallow pan containing about 1/4 inch of GP Forward and scrub the wall with that. You'll notice the cleaner turns the same colour as the wall. That's because it's removing the surface layer of paint. Don't worry, it won't remove it all. Once you've cleaned a section, remove the cleaner off the wall with a squeegee. Make a pass or two with the squeegee, then wipe up the collected liquid with one pass of a damp sponge. After you've cleaned the cleaner off, rinse with clean water and an Atlantic Bee Mop. Keep two buckets going; a dirty water bucket and a clean water bucket. Wring the sponge mop out in the dirty water first, then the clean, and pour out the dirty water often and then use the clean water as the dirty water and new water as the clean water.
Cleaning the walls this way will clean the smoke film off. But it'll also roughen the surface of the paint so it'll look flatter. It's not flat because the gloss goes all the way through the paint. I use this method to clean apartments after tenants move out. Once every ten years or so I paint. Then over the next 10 years I remove the surface layers of that paint after each tenant moves out. Guestimating by the colour of the dirty water I pour out, I figure I take off about 10% of the thickness of the paint each time I clean.
GP Forward is sold at any janitoial supply store that carries S.C. Johnson Wax products. It comes in a gallon jug or a 20 liter "enviropac". One gallon will do 4 or 5 two bedroom apartments. But it's also a great cleaner for other things too.
Have you tried using bleach water to clean walls and ceiling if they are white or really light in color it worked for me..if you have to and this helps try a fresh new color of paint afterwards or buy something called Kilz (washable) than a fresh coat of paint (05/07/2007)
Here could be some advice. I use a product called grease lightening. but you should be careful not to leave it on to long. it did take the finish off of my grandmother hardwood floor. but it works great for nicotine stains on the wall for just for general cleaning. i hope you find this to be useful info. (10/07/2007)
There is a product called T.S.P. It is a mild natural acid that will deglaze and clean the walls after which i would recommend painting. Being a painter myself i have used this product many times and it has never failed. Yous 1st coat should be an oil primer after which you can paint with whatever product you see fit. You should also ask your local paint store for details. Hope this helps. (02/02/2008)
Water, ammonia and a little dish detergent. Be sure to have ample ventilation. (03/15/2008)
I found this by searching google.
" I own a rental house and my tenant had smoked there for over 20 years. The popcorn ceiling was dark brown like chocolate. Where the pictures had been hanging on the wall was white and the wall was brown. The carpet stunk and was stained. I needed to get this house rented quickly so I was in a panic. I was glad to find your website and get next day delivery. One jar cleaned the whole house. I just sprayed the ceiling and it turned white after a few hours. The whole house smelled and looked clean after using your product. WOW! thanks again for such a great product".
Bobby L., Dallas Texas
Clean-n-Brite's formula comes in the form of all natural Power Crystals and mixes with your own tap water to release its full cleaning strength (05/08/2008)
Hi there! The residue that is on your walls because of smoking is tar. Tar is a long chain of carbohydrate and is hardly soluble in water. You could compare it to grease, oil or fat. To get it off your walls, you have to use a solvent for fat. The cheapest thing out there that is really effective is AMMONIA. Dilute it with water and add some regular detergent. Ammonia can also be used to clean any other greasy surface like your cooker hood etc...
If you have curtains that were spoilt by smoke, just handwash them in ammonia solution before you get them into the washing machine. Make sure to try with pure ammonia on a less visible part of your fabric so to make sure it won't damage the colors.
Scrubbing Bubbles is great for cleaning walls. It melts away the nicotine too. Spray on, wait 1 minute and wipe off with paper towels. A building contractor told me this, I was amazed how well it worked, even my hand held steam cleaner didn't get it all. He also said it won't damage your carpet if it drips on it. Some did and it never left any spots. Try it!
By Sharon C. from Maine
I am definitely going to try this. I LOVE Scrubbing Bubbles. Have you tried their new shower cleaner? It has a wide spray and it is terrific. Also, have you tried their new toilet gels? (09/30/2008)
I used Scrubbing Bubbles to clean the hood vent over the stove. It cuts the grease well. And as in the bathroom, no scrubbing. (10/01/2008)
When I bought my fixer-upper house, cleaning the walls with Scrubbing Bubbles was the only way to clean the walls. They had to be cleaned before painting. I tried to just prime them first but the nicotine was so bad it actually bled through the primer. I can attest to the efficiency Scrubbing Bubbles. (10/02/2008)
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?
"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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
Mix ammonia with hot soapy water and prepare to use elbow grease. worked for me. (06/26/2005)
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)
I used all the products mentioned here...and it took off the paint...except the 'magic eraser'....so when I repainted, I used KILZ to seal the wall before I repainted. (01/18/2007)
By Debi Sue
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
Paint with kilz paint. it works on a lot of other things like crayons and ink pen. (06/07/2007)
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 out...lol! goodluck (11/14/2007)
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
Greased Lightening is wonderful at removing nicotine stains from walls. (07/24/2009)
By Cynthia P.
I know someone out there knows the answer to this. We are moving into a place where the person was a heavy smoker. I need to know how I can clean nicotine off of walls without ruining the paint. I am not sure what kind of paint it is, but knowing our landlord, it is cheap paint. Thanks in advance for any and all suggestions for this.
Janice from Illinois
Hi Janice, go to the dollar store and buy a few bottles of Awesome cleaner. Spray it on and watch it roll off. Wipe it off with a terry cloth and clear water, and rinse the cloth good, maybe in the sink. This stuff is the greatest stuff. Only cleaner you'll ever need, will clean anything.
Hope this helps! (09/04/2008)
Frankly, you should check in to your city/county/state tenant laws. It just might be that your landlord is required to clean and/or repaint those walls because the nicotine and cigarette chemical soaked walls are not healthy and, realistically, it's his/her property so why should you have to deal with it?
I am a smoker but refuse to smoke inside, even in freezing temperatures, because I don't want to subject my non-smoking family and friends health to my dirty habit!
If it turns out that you are the ones who have to do the cleaning, use diluted pinesol with cotton rags (t-shirt type material) and rinse the rag, changing the pinesol/water solution often. (09/04/2008)
I agree that the Awesome cleaner is great for everything, its a degreaser. Also, and I love the Mr Clean Eraser, really removes scuff marks and ground in dirt on appliances etc. If you have a handheld steam cleaner, that works very well, my friend used one to clean a bathroom, she removed wallpaper with it, she used the window squeegy tool. (09/05/2008)
I love Awesome, but know that it will take paint off. Thanks for all the ideas, will give them a try. (09/05/2008)
I have this wonderful cleaner that I use for everything as well and it has not taken off our paint...not sure about wallpaper though. It is known as Greased Lightning and is absolutely AMAZING! I believe it is also a degreaser. I get it at Walmart. Also Home Depot and Kmart carry it. It comes in both a spray bottle and large refill jug although the refill jug is sometimes tough to find. Good luck and I would check that landlord tenant law referenced above I believe they most certainly DO have to completely clean a place before new people move in. You might want to check with the health department too especially if you have children. Good luck. (09/06/2008)
TSP is a a cleaner it comes in a box you get at hardware stores. It really cleans the sticky nicotine off. You mix it in bucket with water and use a rag type mop to wipe walls then hand scrub other areas. My friend is a super smoker (uggh and eww) and will NOT open windows so once a year she cleans her walls with this TSP (09/06/2008)
Ok, so after reading this thread. Is it TPS, TCP, or TSP? I've seen it on here all 3 ways.
I also have the nicotine on walls problem and want to go into a store knowing what I want without sounding stupid.
Editor's Note: I believe it is TSP, Trisodium Phosphate. They no longer sell it in some places because it is a phosphate soap so causes algae in fresh water. They do have TSP substitutes though. (10/08/2008)
Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner! I know it sounds funny BUT IT WORKS! (12/15/2008)
This tip is for cleaning nicotine stained walls. I have just done a test with several different cleaners including TSP and the only one that really does the job is Scrubbing Bubbles. No streaks no residue. Love it.
Please only do this unless all your doors and windows are open and wearing a protective mask! (08/28/2009)
I rented a home where we all smoked for ten years and the walls were terribly stained. I used bleach as well as many different things. I found the easiest way to clean and deodorize was to use white vinegar and water with a mop. I mopped the walls with the solution and the nicotine rolled off so easily. You will be amazed.
By Wendibrown from Beaverton, OR
After moving for the first time in 27 years, we moved into a home that had a sun room that had been used as a smoking room. I had great success with Windex. (09/29/2009)
I want to add to this for any people looking in the future. I have tried many products from vinegar, ammonia, TSP, vapor steamer, Simple Green, and some others. TSP worked pretty well, but odds are it's not the same stuff as it was in the past. Many states now ban phosphates in cleaning products. Thus they aren't as good. If the product states TSP substitute, it's not the same as the old products.
Two products I felt worked the best. After I tried a product, I would go back with these 2 items and it always removed more. If it is available in your area or you have a Lowes, Krud Kutter will melt the nicotine away! This stuff is not cheap in a 32oz bottle, it sold for $6 in my area, but the 1.2 gallon batch sells for $11, a better buy.
The other product will surprise some. The other product that removes nicotine like butter is Eagle One A2Z Wheel and Tire Cleaner. Yes, a car product! I figure if this stuff can remove dirt and oil from rims with out scrubbing, lets try it on the walls. It works!
Both products didn't effect the paint also on my walls. So give those a shot if you have a tough project.