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How to Remove Cigarette Smoke From Wallpaper

Updated July 19, 2017

Removing cigarette smoke and stains from wallpaper takes time and some elbow grease, but it can be done with a homemade cleaning solution that will break down the tar and nicotine. Vinyl papers can be washed with water, but older papers may be thin and more fragile, so be sure to apply the cleaning solution on a small test area first.

Prepare the walls for cleaning by dusting or vacuuming dust and lose dirt particles from the surface. Place either a dust sheet or old sheet on the floor to avoid any mess or damage.

In a large bucket, combine 1 gallon of warm water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup plain ammonia (non-sudsing) and 1/4 cup dish detergent. The dish detergent will act as a degreaser and help break up the greasy tar film. Vinegar and ammonia will eliminate odours left by cigarette smoke.

Test a small corner area. Wipe the wallpaper with cleaning solution using a large sponge and rinse with warm clean water. See how the wallpaper reacts to the solution before continuing.

Starting at the top of the wall and working in a circular motion, apply the cleaning solution with a large sponge. Make sure the sponge is not over-saturated as you do not want to soak the wallpaper.

Let the solution sit for a minute, but do not let it dry. Rinse cleaned area with warm water and wipe with white towels.

If wallpaper is very soiled it may be necessary to repeat the process before moving on to the next section.

Things You'll Need

  • Two buckets
  • Clean white towels
  • Large sponge
  • Rubber gloves
  • Ladder
  • Dust sheet
  • Vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • Dawn dish detergent
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About the Author

As a freelance writer living in South Carolina, Ellyn Hamilton has more than 20 years of experience in residential real-estate sales, corporate human resources and college recruiting. She received her Associate of Science from Endicott College and contributes to several online publications, specializing in topics of home improvement and decor, gardening and health.