How to Remove Nicotine Stains From Painted Walls

Updated February 21, 2017

Nicotine from cigarette smoke stains most anything it comes in contact with--including your teeth, clothes and even painted walls. Nicotine clings and absorbs into surfaces, making stains difficult to remove. The stains form a greasy film that ordinary soap cannot cut through. Luckily, a mixture of vinegar and ammonia eats through tough nicotine stains on painted walls, allowing you to remove the stains without harming the paint.

Mix a solution of one part ammonia, one part white vinegar and 1 tbsp of dish detergent in the bucket.

Apply the cleaning solution to the nicotine stains, using a sponge. Wring the sponge first in the bucket to get rid of excess liquid. Clean the stain and keep turning and rinsing the sponge as you lift the stain from the wall. You may also use a mop if the stains are up and down the surface of the walls.

Rinse the walls with cool water after removing the stains. Use a sponge or rags to rinse the wall, making sure to remove all the cleaner. Dry the walls with clean cloths.


If stains cannot be removed, you may have to repaint the walls. Wear rubber gloves and goggles, and open the windows to ensure adequate ventilation.

Things You'll Need

  • Ammonia
  • White vinegar
  • Dish detergent
  • Bucket
  • Sponge
  • Clean rags
  • Clean cloths
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About the Author

Constance Barker, located in the hills of southern Ohio, is the owner and writer of several financial, credit report and travel websites. She started writing in 1999 for private clients and began creating website content in 2004. She gained expertise in home improvement after she and her husband built their home themselves.