Removing Nicotine Odour from Walls Behind Cabinets

There is a cigarette odour behind the base cupboards in a fitted kitchen. A small gap at the top of each cupboard and drawer allows the smell to permeate. As the smell seems to be on the wall behind how can I eliminate this?

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May 22, 20170 found this helpful
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This is a subject that interests me because I am allergic to nicotine smoke. Unfortunately it's quite difficult to remove Nicotine odor from walls short of removing and replacing the drywall. I have found that there are odor neutralizing components in simple household baking soda(you can purchase it in a bag in the laundry section at Walmart & other grocery or hardware stores). I scrub with it & then put a little in a screened container/shaker in the cupboard. Borax is also odor neutralizing. I have also used borax to wipe down walls etc., but it is not lasting. Another thing that will continually work at absorbing odor is charcoal. I put a hand full of grilling charcoal cubes in a small open container in a back corner of a closet, cupboard, or whatever. If you want to go to a bit more work, KILZ paint also works relatively well at sealing away stains and odors from nicotine smoke. Good luck!

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May 22, 20170 found this helpful
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Mary Hunt recommends Nok-Out. It removes many odors. You can buy it on Amazon.

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May 22, 20170 found this helpful
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Place shallow bowls of baking soda in the drawers for several days in a row.

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May 23, 20170 found this helpful
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It sounds like this kitchen may be a "make-over" and the old cabinets were removed and new cabinets installed without doing a proper cleanup. Which probably also means the workers were smokers and could not smell or care about the odor (or just ignored it or did not include clean-up in their contract).

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You must like your apartment or it seems you would just move. This will be a very time consuming job so be sure you know this before starting and have all supplies ready before you begin.
One word of caution - you have not mentioned upper cabinets. If they are also "odor infected" then you should do those before doing the lower cabinets. You probably should clean the underside of any upper cabinets first - even if you do not clean the insides.
I would suggest that you remove everything that you can from your cabinets and remove drawers as well so that you can reach as much wood/wall as possible with a spray liquid. Place everything someplace that you can leave it for a day or so.
Buy one or two spray bottles (Dollar Tree will work) and some household ammonia. I believe the lemon scent ammonia will work. Also, buy a pair or two of rubber gloves (like for dish washing), a package of face masks, and a bucket. Several rags for wiping. Of course you may already have some of this.
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Very important!!! You must have good ventilation so open every window you can and turn fans and AC to full power. You should not breathe the fumes. This may sound really dangerous but it can only be dangerous if you do not follow just basic rules when using something that creates fumes.
Since this is a tough job, I would make a mix of 1/2 ammonia with 1/2 water in each bottle. You could use it stronger but this may be good enough. Fill your bucket with fresh/clean water and have several cleaning rags available nearby (some for rinsing and some for drying).
Hopefully your spray bottles will have stream or condensed settings as it would be best to not use a wide spray. Be very careful and spray every area inside your cabinets (tops, sides, especially any cracks, so that it literally runs downs into every crevice. It may run to the floor if there is an open area but that should not be a problem as there is probably an odor there also (just forget about any run down unless it runs to outside the cabinet). Just leave this for a few minutes (15 maybe). You can also spray the doors but place lots of newspaper or garbage bags under the doors to catch any dripping from hitting your floor. Wipe your doors with clean water - several times.
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You can now get fresh clean water and rags to wipe inside your cabinets. Just wipe every surface you can reach. It will not matter that you cannot remove every trace of the ammonia as it will not hurt you later. You can also use a clean spray bottle for this and just wipe the surface after spraying clean water.
Your drawer area will have to be done the same way even though the space is small. Spray cleaner inside and wait - then spray clean water and wipe as much as possible.
Your cabinet drawers will also have to be cleaned. This should be done outside if possible - if not - then try to do this cleaning on newspaper or plastic on the floor. (Some would say use the bathtub but I do not believe you can get good enough ventilation in a bathroom.) Spray the inside and outside of each drawer and wipe down with clean water.
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Let everything air out for a day and I believe you will eliminate your odor. You may have to give everything an "odor" test before putting it back into your cabinets (even food boxes or cans but especially dishes).
You can now use some of the other suggestions about using something to mask the odor but I believe this will eliminate most of the source and make your area more enjoyable.

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May 23, 20170 found this helpful

Thanks so much for such detailed help. I still am not sure what to do with the walls. Shall I spray lots on the wall and leave it to run down to the bottom ?

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May 25, 20170 found this helpful

I believe that is the only thing you can do as all of your wall cannot be reached and whatever runs down will not hurt/harm anything unless there is an excessive amount and it runs to the front of your cabinets - so be prepared with rags to clean any over-run.

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I discussed this with my son as we have this problem many times with renters who leave this problem behind when they move (we only rent to non-smokers - haha!) and he says that using ammonia may be too much for you (although he thinks it is the best) and you could try using a vinegar mixture instead. He recommends finding a stronger vinegar than the regular white vinegar found in the stores. You can sometimes find a stronger vinegar at Home Depot, Ace Hardware or some other stores. You may have to call around to find it as not too many places carry it. A mixture of 1/4 water to 3/4 vinegar may do the job with a lot less clean-up work as the vinegar cleans away easier and the smell will be gone in several hours.
I really hope you can clear this up as none of my large family have ever smoked and the smell and grime really becomes unbearable for us so I can appreciate how you feel.
Please let me know if I can answer any questions or concerns. A reminder; using any kind of strong cleaner requires caution for your own health's sake.
i will also say that if there were any appliances/furniture that was not replaced then you may have to clean those also.

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May 22, 20170 found this helpful

It sounds like you saying the cabinets were installed over dirty nicotine coated walls(?). Do you meant the base cupboards with a counter or/and the top cupboards? Small gap at the top of a drawer (can't figure that out). Do your cupboards have a solid back (and attached to the wall) or is the wall the actual back of the cabinet?
I do not believe anyone has addressed your problem as any of the solutions offered may only be masking the odor instead of eliminating it.
If you can explain just a little more someone can probably help you.

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May 23, 20170 found this helpful

Yes covered all along by counter. There is a small gap all along under the counter and you can smell it as soon as you open drawer or cupboard. I don't know how to treat with such small access

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May 23, 20170 found this helpful

I would like to say that if you cannot clean with the ammonia (for what ever reason) then you could try using the Nok-Out that was suggested but try to clean the area in the same manner or I do not believe it will not work. Good luck.

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