Scrubbing Smoke Film off Walls - What Cleaner to Use??

Updated on December 04, 2010
A.K. asks from Minneapolis, MN
6 answers

We've been in our house for almost 5 years. The previous owners were smokers (GAG). It didn't seem too smelly when we bought it (or we wouldnt have bought it, YUCK). We washed most of the walls and repainted when we moved in. Now we only smell it a little when the house has been closed up all day on a hot summer day.

ANYWAYS, I am having a baby and we are turning the office into the baby's room. we haven't painted that room since we moved in and I wiped the walls with a white rag you can SEE the yellow smoke film! so i am going to scrub the heck out of it before we paint, and paint the ceiling too.

What should I use to put in the water? if It's something too strong I will have to have my hubby do it since i am pregnant and sensitive to orders.


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answers from Joplin on

Working at Merry Maids we used white distilled vinegar with water. I would suggest painting over it with a layer of Killz then a coat of regular paint though, because just removing the nicotine staining can still leave odor behind.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on


However, if you paint, it will pretty much cover it. Just use a nice thick paint. I painted my smoker friend's apartment, and she lamely TSP'd it first, but it was really the painting that took care of the problem.



answers from Las Vegas on

I use Dr. Bronner's liquid castille soap to clean my walls. It's all natural (a big plus for me!) but it is the only soap that I have found that really dissolves the gunk off of my walls (mostly food and dirty handprints; we don't smoke) without taking the paint off. Here's the link for you in case you want to check it out online before going to the store:

I've been able to find it in the natural foods section of my local grocery store but I know that Whole Foods and Sunflower Markets carry it also.

Hope this helps.



answers from Minneapolis on

If you don't want to do alot of unnecessary work, do yourself a favor and just paint over it. That tar is impossible to get off walls.



answers from Minneapolis on

We too bought a house that had been owned by smokers (they were the only owners for about 40 years!). Luckily the sellers had done most of the work to get rid of the smell (removed drapes, carpets, repainted, new light fixtures). I think if you wash with vinegar, let it dry, wash with dawn dishsoap, let it dry, then repaint, you'll be doing well.

Our home still smells a bit if we are out of it for the weekend, or on really hot days. I think the smell lingers in the attic.

Something else that has helped is taking the windows apart, and REALLY cleaning them... the glass, the woodwork, all the runners/sashes, etc. They were filthy.

Congrats on your pregnancy!


answers from Washington DC on

If you washed and painted the walls five years ago and the smoke smell is back - then you might have a different problem.

My husband is a smoker and smokes outside. Not all smokers are bad.

When I wash my walls, I use Mr. Clean or the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. If you plan on painting the room - there is a solution that your husband can buy at home depot and wash the walls with it - it's orange - can't remember the name of it.

Since you are sensitive to odors - you will most likely be spending a lot of money on the VOC or non-smelling paint as well.

Next question: Best Way Get Rid of Cig Smell.