How to Remove Smoke Stains From Painted Walls

Written by april dowling
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How to Remove Smoke Stains From Painted Walls
Fireplace smoke and soot can cause stains on walls. (Flame of a fire and fire wood in fireplace image by Aliaksandr Zabudzko from

Smoke from cigarettes, fireplaces and candles can cause unsightly stains on painted walls. These stains need to be cleaned immediately or they will become difficult to remove. Don't paint directly over the stains because they will become visible through the new paint. Also, once the stains have been painted over, they are virtually impossible to remove. You can easily remove smoke stains with the proper materials.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Fan
  • Dust sheet
  • Safety goggles
  • Rubber gloves
  • Dry sponge
  • Water
  • Paint thinner
  • Soft cloth
  • White vinegar
  • Bowl
  • Sponge

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  1. 1

    Open the windows in the room or turn on a fan to ventilate the area. Place a dust sheet on the floor below the stained area to prevent soiling the floor with soot.

  2. 2

    Put on safety goggles and rubber gloves to protect you while cleaning the soot. Rub the stained area with a dry sponge to remove the soot from the wall. When the soot is completely gone, rinse the sponge out with water and allow it to air dry.

  3. 3

    Finish removing the remaining stain with paint thinner. Wet a soft cloth with paint thinner and rub the smoke stain with the cloth until the remaining stain is completely gone. Allow the wall to air dry.

  4. 4

    Remove nicotine-related smoke stains from the wall by using white vinegar and warm water. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and warm water together in a bowl. Dip a sponge into the solution, and rub the area with the sponge to completely remove the nicotine stains.

Tips and warnings

  • Rubbing alcohol can be used instead of paint thinner.
  • To paint over smoke stains, first apply a paint primer or sealer to the wall before using paint with a stain-resistant finish.

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