How to Clean Smoke from Walls

Updated on July 10, 2012
S.B. asks from Mission, KS
11 answers

Hi Ladies! My family recently purchased a house and I have been readying one bedroom for our baby, due in Oct. However, while putting her clothes away I noticed the smell of stale smoke in the closet. On closer exam, my 'preggo nose' is detecting stale smoke smell on the closet walls. Having just finished a book about what not to expose your child to, new paint and stale smoke are high on the list of no-no's. Anyone have experience cleaning this off well? Wondering if vinegar would work or something soap-based? Ugh, had to be in baby's room!

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Seattle on

Smoke residue is resin based. Resin is alcohol soluble, or oil soluble (not water soluble).


1) paint is porous (so the resins will deposit UNDER the paint, so until you repaint, you won't be able to get rid of it entirely.

2) What's even worse than paint off gassing, or smoke residue, is mom getting absolutely smashed from cleaning with ever clear/gun/vodka while pregnant with you.

Personally... I'd just paint it. Summer. Leave the windows open, let it do most of its off gassing now with the closet propped open and breeze clearing out the space.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Tulsa on

Call a disaster restoration company and have them ozone treat it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dothan on

I would 1st use HOT water with a bit of baking soda all over the walls, then the Simple Green that SB suggested, also as Riley said, leave the closet OPEN after & before each dousing/cleaning...the last thing would be to use clear water to get any/all residue off prior to repainting. If there is carpet in the closet, pull it up (best case scenario) if that isn't an option, steam clean it rather than shampooing, shampoo leaves it's own residue & steam cleaning actually removes the mess/dirt/smell. If you have a hardwood floor in there treat it the same as the walls (it's a closet so no worries over the shine, course you can redo the wood after cleaning, shine wise that is with a product for that). Make sure you get the bar & shelves in there as well. Keep her clothing out of the room until you are finished. If it smells now too, unfortunately you will have to rewash it I HATE the smell of smoke on clothing! :/

The 'new' paint should be 'old' paint by October, so PAINT AWAY after cleaning!

Whatever you decide to use/do make sure you do it in small spurts & with the room open preferably an open window so you don't sicken yourself or overdo, mama! ;)


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I would worry more about the fumes that you inhale while pregnant than when the baby comes in October. By then paint should not have much odor. Have someone else do the cleaning / painting when using strong chemicals. It will absorb through your skin as well, so wear gloves and filtration mask if doing your self. While preganant, do not use paint or strong chemicals when in closed room, closet especially, run fan and keep windows open to air out.
You will need to wash her clothes to get rid of smokey odor too.
Wood also absorbs smoke odor.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

Use Dow Scrubbing Bubbles (the bathroom cleaner), it works well on nicotine.



answers from New York on

the walls in my room were so covered in cigarette smoke you could actually see it coming off the walls when we cleaned before we repainted .. there were only2 things that would take it all off- bleach spray or 409spray.. with the 409 u needed to scrub a little harder but i liked it better cuz it didnt have that horrible bleach smell and it has an antibacterial in it.. o0 and u need to use a scrubby sponge depending on how bad it is.. if its just the smell and u cant actually see the smoke residue on the walls im sure just regular soap would be fine



answers from Sacramento on

My sister used to work for a restoration company that would go in after fires, floods, suicides, etc., and clean up. The only for sure way to get rid of that smell is to replace the drywall. painting will cover it for awhile, but the smell will come back. I wonder, was the room re-painted already when you bought the house? sounds like they forgot to paint the closet, probably didnt occur to them that the stink had gotten in there. the whole room may begin to reek after a bit of time has passed. I would most likely error on the side of safety and put up new drywall and then wall paper to avoid the paint smell issue.



answers from Dallas on

I really think gutting it and putting new drywall is the only true way.

You can just prime, paint, and open windows. See if that works.


answers from Chicago on

I suggest Reily J's answer ... and wanted to add that there is now a paint WITH bakingsoda to help future odors as well! Good Luck, and if you have it done now and allow the room to air out you will be JUST fine.



answers from Dayton on

I would use Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, sometimes with smoke it can leave streaks but I've used them and then used hot water with baking soda to go over it and looks great!



answers from Dallas on

We had renters in our property that smoked so much the walls were yellow. There were outlines where things we hanging on the walls. It was really awful and is the reason our property is now smoke free. I scrubbed it with vinegar and water and a lot of elbow grease. It worked. On some of the tougher spots, used some simple green. We also repainted the house too. Make sure to clean the carpet too. If it's in there it can cause the odor too. Some carpet cleaning companies do not do closets unless they are specifically told to clean them.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions