Smoking cigarettes inside leaves a yellowish tar-like residue on the belongings and interior of the home. This is not only gross, but potentially dangerous. Researchers have given nicotine residue the name “thirdhand smoke” and believe it can pose adverse health effects long after the cigarette itself is put out and the smoke is gone. Read these tips on how to remove nicotine stains from your home.
Create one of the following cleaning solutions or use one of your own choosing.
- Vinegar and water (about a cup of vinegar to a spray bottle full of water)
- Bleach and water (about a tablespoon of bleach)
- Borax and water (about a tablespoon of borax)
Bleach should be used only if the area being cleaned will be vacated while the bleach dries and the fumes dissipate. When cleaning with bleach or other chemicals, you should be sure to protect yourself and work in a well-ventilated area. We also recommend wearing gloves while you clean to protect your hands from the nicotine build-up.
Wet a clean sponge or rag with the cleaning solution of your choice and scrub the walls. Start from the bottom and work your way to the top to avoid streaks. Clean a section at a time and dry as you go.
Depending on how much smoking was done in the home, this could be a big job, and you may even need to repaint the walls. Even if you do repaint, you still want to clean first to remove as much nicotine as possible.
First, place a tarp over your floor and belongings. You don’t want dirt falling on your furniture! Then vacuum your ceiling using the attachment hose (if you can’t comfortably reach while standing on the floor, use a ladder or step-ladder placed on level ground). This step removes loose dust and dirt so you don’t create mud when you wet-clean.
After dusting, to remove nicotine, create one of the cleaning solutions, grab a sponge or rag, and start scrubbing. Work in small sections at a time.
Paper Lamp Shade: There is nothing you can do to repair a nicotine-stained paper lamp shade. Throw it away and buy a new one.
Plastic Lamp Shade: This process is similar to the wall cleaning. Mix together vinegar and water (or create another cleaning solution of your choosing). Wet a clean sponge or cloth with your cleaner and start scrubbing. Clean the lampshade until the nicotine stains are removed. Dry the shade with a clean cloth.
Fabric Lamp Shade: There are two different methods for this cleaning. The first option is steam cleaning. Just follow the instructions on the steam cleaner. Second option, use plain ol’ soap and water. Fill your bathtub or a large bucket with warm soapy water. Remove the lamp shade from the lamp and place it in the water. Use a soft sponge or rag to gently rub the nicotine off the lamp shade. When you’ve finished, blot the lampshade dry with a clean towel.
Yes, windows. Everything inside a home gets coated with nicotine when someone smokes and the windows are no exception. To remove this residue, spray the window with a vinegar-water solution and wipe. Repeat until the window is clean again.
Air out the home as much as possible by opening windows and doors. There are a few products that can help the process along.
- Baking soda is the ultimate go-to when it comes to absorbing unpleasant smells. Just sprinkle it on anything from the carpets to the curtains, let it sit for a few hours, then vacuum it back up.
- Hydrogen peroxide will work for removing nicotine odor from hard furniture around your home. However, use caution as it will adversely affect certain materials. We recommend applying a small inconspicuous spot to test before using it on the entire surface.
It may take some elbow grease, but you can remove nicotine stains from your home. Of course, the easiest way to avoid this problem is to quit smoking or have smokers go outside. If you want help removing nicotine from your home, contact a local professional that can help you with this task.
It’s not an easy task to remove nicotine; upon cleaning up your home, install your recently cleaned smoke detector for additional safety.
I just tried several such as ammonia, alcohol, lemon juice/ aspirin, waterless hand cleaner, SIMPLE GREEN, WITH 100% FAIL. Years back, prepping for paint on yellowed painted sheetrock, others that failed were 409 and Fantastic,
BUT THE ONLY ONE THAT WORKED and made the brown water roll off WAS SPIC-N-SPAN (maybe back when it had more TSP?) NOT smoking now, so haven’t used the new Spic-n-Span? I also think you maybe able to buy straight TSP at the PAINT SUPPLY STORE?
We gladly appreciate your input in these cleaning tips. As for the options for cleaning agents, we prefer to focus on more environmentally safe products. We’re currently updating our posts to include a broader range of cleaning agents. Thank you for commenting.
Is TSP safe for the environment? Do people care for that stuff these days?