How To Clean Nicotine Off The Walls And Ceilings
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How to Clean Nicotine Off the Walls and Ceilings – Proven Methods

Learn how to clean nicotine off the walls and ceilings easily and effectively with my tips. It can be a tough, demanding, and time-consuming chore, but with a few tips, you can get better results with less effort.

Whatever the reasons for having cigarette smoke stains in your home, cleaning it is one of the best home-related solutions you’ll ever make. Not only do smoke discoloration stains look gross, but they can be harmful to your health, too.

Because smoke rises, you will notice yellow stains at the high parts of the walls, ceilings, and corners. If you have curtains, those will become yellowish, too.

You can use a steam cleaner to clean the walls and ceilings, but to remove hard-core nicotine residue, you will need to scrub and use chemicals or home remedies.

In this article, you will learn how to clean nicotine using three cleaning formulas. I will explain the complete process through steps!

Additionally, stay till the end to find out what it takes to reduce the disgusting smell!

Clean Nicotine off the Walls

Why Does Nicotine Stick to the Walls and Ceilings?

Nicotine can stain teeth, nails, fingers, clothing, curtains, furniture and walls, and ceilings. The smoke lingers in the air for a certain time, even if you open the window. Eventually, the smoke lands on the surfaces on the walls and ceiling, forming a scum that is hard to remove.

Other chemical compounds stick to the scum too, causing the stain to become larger or brighter. Smoking in your home every day creates stains that become visible after a certain time, and there is no way to prevent them.

Cleaning and scrubbing every inch of your walls and ceilings every day might help, but it is impossible to do. Rather, you can completely clean the nicotine stains from the walls and try to keep the house smoke-free.

What Are Possible Health Concerns from Nicotine Stains on the Walls?

Smoking is bad for your health, but did you know that moving into a house with cigarette smoke stains is also dangerous? It is considered one of the issues related to third-hand smoking.

Cigarette smoke clings to different surfaces but reacts with other chemicals in the air. So, one study suggests that nitric acid in the air and nicotine form carcinogens. We can find nitric acid in some household cleaning products, such as dishwasher soaps, plastic elements, and explosives.

Additionally, children are at the highest risk of being exposed to toxins. Because the smoke clings to different surfaces and reacts with chemicals, it can create a toxic residue on walls. As they explore the world around them, children touch things and put their hands in their mouths.

How to Clean Nicotine off the Walls and Ceilings?

Unfortunately, there is no magic brush that will clean the cigarette stains from your walls and ceilings. You have to apply a significant amount of elbow grease. But if you follow the next few methods, you can see better results and complete the task sooner.

The three methods are divided by the level of nicotine staining in your home. You can clean light stains with white vinegar, but tougher stains require more effort and stronger chemical use.

However, the tools are the same for all three methods, and the only thing that changes is the chemical/cleaning solvent.

Things to Prepare for Cleaning Nicotine off the Walls:

The right tools will help you finish the task sooner, but also more effectively. Here is the list of things you need to clean the nicotine off the walls:

  • Cleaning solution: white vinegar and baking soda/ammonia/trisodium phosphate
  • Liquid dish soap (optional)
  • Spray bottle
  • Bucket and water
  • Sponge and brushes for scrubbing
  • Soft cloth
  • Gloves
  • Sponge Mop
  • Goggles (for working around the ceiling)
  • Stepladder
  • Vacuum cleaner/Steam cleaner
  • Respiratory mask
  • Paint roller (Optional)

Prepare the Area

The first thing to do when cleaning nicotine off the walls and ceilings is to vacuum the surfaces thoroughly to remove dust and debris. You can also use a steam cleaner or a steam mop to remove the surfaces dust and cobwebs in the corners, too. Remove the pictures from the walls. Open the windows to allow fresh air in the room as the vinegar has a harsh smell.

Put the cloth around on the floor around the wall and over the furniture if you plan to use ammonia or trisodium phosphate, as it can damage your belongings.

Put the gloves on and safety goggles, and you are ready to start scrubbing!

Cleaning the Cigarette Smoke off The Walls with Vinegar

You can use vinegar to clean lighter nicotine stains from the wall and ceilings. You can use white vinegar or lemon juice. Prepare the cleaning solution by pouring an equal amount of vinegar and water into the spray bottle. For best results, I recommend warming vinegar before mixing it with water.

Fill the bucket with warm water and keep it close to you.

Then, spray the walls with the solution and leave it for a couple of minutes. Use a sponge to clean the walls and start at the bottom of the walls. Slowly work your way up and continue until you clean every part of the wall.

How to Clean the Walls with Vinegar?

Spray the walls with the solution you prepared and leave it for a couple of minutes. Use a sponge to clean the walls and start at the bottom of the walls. Slowly work your way up and continue until you clean every part of the wall.

Wash the sponge in the bucket, as you scrub, to remove the dirt from the sponge itself.

Once you reach higher parts of the wall, apply the mixture and use the stepladder to reach the corners edges between the wall and the ceiling. You might have to apply more mixture and vigorously scrub because smoke rises towards the ceiling and causes tougher stains.

Watch this video to know more:

Watch video: More tips for cleaning the cigarette smoke of the walls

How to Clean the Ceiling with Vinegar?

Cleaning the ceiling is the most demanding part. It is important to clean around curtain rods, as those parts are especially prone to staining.

Mix water and vinegar in the same proportion in a large bucket. Then soak the scrubbing mop in the mixture, squeeze the excess, and scrub the ceiling vigorously. Make sure the mop is completely clean to avoid spreading dirt over the ceiling. Repeat the process until you cover every inch.

Climb up to the stepladder and use a spray bottle and sponge to scrub the nicotine off the chandelier area, and around the curtain rods.

Once you finish scrubbing, let the walls dry and inspect them for any missing stains. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell in the room, it will disappear soon.

Vinegar is not only an eco-friendly and inexpensive cleaning solution for cigarette smoke stains, but it also removes the unpleasant cigarette smell.

Leave the windows open for a few more hours to let the walls dry or dry them with towels. You can also turn the heating on or use an air conditioner warm setting to dry the walls sooner.

Cleaning the Cigarette Smoke off The Walls with Ammonia

Ammonia is effective against medium tough stains but is very important to wear gloves and goggles for protection. If the concentrated ammonia comes in contact with the skin, it can cause irritations and burns. Also, don’t forget to keep the windows open for air circulation.

Watch this video to know more:

Watch video: How to use ammonia in the household?

Prepare the Mixture

The ratio for preparing the ammonia cleaning is one tablespoon of undiluted ammonia on the cup of water. You can add half a cup of baking soda or dish soap to make the solution stronger.

Also, if your walls are painted in bright colors, reduce the amount of ammonia to half of the tablespoon or 1/4.

I recommend mixing the solution over the sink in a large bucket, especially if you add baking soda because it will sizzle.

How to Clean the Walls with Ammonia?

The process is similar to the vinegar method. Soak the sponge in the solution and apply it directly to the wall, one section after the other. Let the solution sit on the wall for five to ten minutes. You can scrub, but don’t do it vigorously to prevent scratching the paint or tearing the layers of the wall.

Then, prepare the bucket with clean, warm water and rinse the wall using a sponge to wipe it clean.

Once you rinsed the sections, use a towel to dry each section.

However, change the towel to prevent adding gunk to the walls.

Repeat the process until you clean everything.

How to Clean the Ceiling with Ammonia?

To clean the nicotine off the ceiling, you can repeat the method I described in the section cleaning the ceiling with vinegar. Therefore, soak the mop in the solution, apply it to the ceiling and let it sit for a couple of minutes.

Then, rinse the ceiling with a mop and warm, clean water. To dry the ceiling, you can attach the dry towel or cloth to the mop and collect excess water.

Use Trisodium Phosphate For Tough Stains

Lastly, you can use trisodium phosphate (TSP) to remove the toughest stains on your walls and ceiling. TSP comes in powder form and is commonly used for deep cleaning the walls, and preparing them for paint.

You shouldn’t use TSP on ceramic, metal, tile, glass, and grout. TSP is highly toxic and you should be very careful when handling it. When you work with TSP, make sure to wear full protection, a t-shirt with long sleeves, pants, goggles, gloves, and a respiratory mask. The room must be well-ventilated.

TSP is one of the most effective cleaners, and it is easy to apply. It can remove even the toughest stains and mold and mildew, but you will probably have to repaint after using it.

Watch this video to know more:

Watch video: Use TSP to thoroughly clean the walls


Trisodium phosphate isn’t that hard to find. You can find TSP powder in a local shop with cleaning solutions or a hardware store. The ratio is one tablespoon of TSP powder on one gallon of warm water.

How to Clean the Walls with TSP?

Because TSP is highly effective, it can also strip the paint down from the walls. Therefore, you should be very careful when applying it to the walls. You can slowly start at the bottom and carefully work your way up, one small section after another.

As you let it sit on the wall for a couple of minutes you can wipe the wall with a soft cloth. Then, soak the sponge into the clean water and rinse each section.

You will have to change the water often to make sure you are rinsing with clean water all the time.

How to Clean the Ceiling with TSP?

You can repeat the technique with a scrub mop for the ceiling, but I recommend dipping a clean paint roller in the solution. Use the roller to disperse the TSP on the ceiling, as the roller will ensure even application and reduce the streaks.

Still, you will have to use a sponge to clean around the curtain rods and chandelier, but the roller will do well for the largest surface of the ceiling.

To rinse, soak the clean mop in the water, squeeze it well and go over the ceiling. Don’t forget to dry the ceiling with a soft cloth!

Alternative Cleaning Solutions

The three described methods are most effective against light and tough nicotine stains on the walls and ceilings. But, there are alternative solutions, too.

For example, you can use borax instead of TSP and ammonia as a more eco-friendly cleaning formula. However, borax requires more scrubbing and probably won’t remove the toughest stains.

A mixture of dish soap and oven cleaner and water is great at lifting the nicotine residue from the wall. But, it is difficult to rinse off the walls.

Extra Cleaning Tips

Once the walls and the ceilings are completely dry, inspect them for stains. Some stains aren’t visible when the wall is wet, so the final check is important to see if you missed any spots.

If you have, repeat the process until you are satisfied with the results.

If people smoked in your home for years, you will probably have to repeat the whole cleaning process several days to remove the cigarette smoke stains completely.

Let’s see this video to collect more understandings:

Watch video: Extreme transformation - cleaning an old home from the cigarette smoke


Even if you haven’t used TSP, I recommend adding a fresh layer of paint to your walls. Not only will it cover potential discolorations and even the wall and ceiling surface, but it will also cover stain leftovers and refresh the walls. It can also help with the unpleasant cigarette smell.

Reducing Cigarette Smell

Once you have cleaned every part of the wall and ceiling, you should replace all your HVAC filters. It refreshes the air and reduces the unpleasant nicotine smell.

Occasional spraying of vinegar and water mixture to the walls will help with the smell. Also, make sure to leave the windows open as long as possible and avoid smoking.

Don’t forget to wash the windows, curtains and carpets to refresh the whole room! You can also deep clean the furniture with an upholstery steam cleaner for better results.

Calling for Help

If you have tried all three methods and they don’t work, you can consider calling for professional wall cleaning services. Pick the agency with a comprehensive approach to cleaning and proven results.

Cleaning the Cigarette Smoke from the Walls – Demanding but Rewarding

Remove Mould on Wall House

Once you complete your cleaning chores, you will be delighted with the fresh smell in the room and shiny walls.

Even though the process is time-consuming, you will love the results.

If you cannot quit smoking, try to smoke outside to reduce the hard cigarette smoke from the closed space.

Have you ever tried to clean walls from nicotine at home? Which method do you prefer?

Don’t forget to like and share the article with all your smokers’ friends!

How To Clean Nicotine Off The Walls And Ceilings

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Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones

Home Cleaning Specialist

Expertise: In-depth Knowledge of Cleaning Agents and Their Uses, Advanced Home Sanitization, Techniques Expertise in Cleaning and Maintaining, Various Floor Types, Innovations in Home Cleaning Tools

School: American College of Home Economics

Kevin Jones is a seasoned home cleaning specialist with over a decade of experience in the industry. A stickler for cleanliness and organization, Kevin brings a systematic and innovative approach to home maintenance. His expertise ranges from traditional methods to modern cleaning technology, ensuring homes are not just clean but healthy environments too.

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