How to remove nicotine stains from walls

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How to remove nicotine stains from walls
Tar and nicotine in cigarette smoke leaves a brown residue on walls. (Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Nicotine stains are among the most difficult stains to remove, because the oily residue from cigarette smoke is impervious to water and most soaps. Covering your walls with a fresh coat of paint only works as a temporary fix, because the oily residue soon seeps through the paint layers. Remove those unsightly yellow stains for good with a few simple tips.

Things you need

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cloth or soft-bristled brush
  • Washing-up liquid
  • Clean towel

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  1. 1

    Remove stains from vinyl wallpaper covered walls, ceramic tile or stone such as marble or alabaster by combining two 500 ml (2 cups) of hydrogen peroxide with 250 ml (1 cup) of warm water and 5 ml (1 tsp) of rubbing alcohol. Rub the stains with a cloth or soft-bristled brush until clean.

  2. 2

    Clean wood walls by combining 30 ml (2 tbsp) of standard washing-up liquid in hot water. Stir the mixture briskly until a heavy foam appears. Clean the stained areas by applying only the foam to a sponge or cloth and rubbing the area. Once clean, dry the area thoroughly with a clean towel.

  3. 3

    Rejuvenate nicotine-covered, painted walls. Combine 50 ml (1/4 cup) of white vinegar, 125 ml (1/2 cup) of sugar, 125 ml (1/2 cup) of washing powder and 1.8 litres (2 quarts) of hot water. Apply the solution to your walls with a sponge or cloth, rubbing until clean and wiping dry.

Tips and warnings

  • When adding fresh paint over nicotine-stained walls, always clean your walls thoroughly and apply at least two coats of anti-fungicidal stain preventing primer. Allow the primer to cure for two days before applying a fresh coat of paint. Avoid water-based paints, because nicotine is water soluble and will more easily penetrate the paint layers.

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