How to Remove Cigarette Smoke From Painted Walls

Kenneth Coppens

A house inhabited by smokers typically has yellow-stained walls with a scent of stale cigarette smoke. While this can go completely unnoticed by smokers who live in the house, it's immediately apparent to any nonsmoker who steps inside.

Cigarettes can cause stains on painted walls.

This becomes a problem when smokers want to sell their home, or a nonsmoker moves into the previous home of a smoker. In such situations, smoke-stained walls can be cleaned and deodorized with a natural acidic cleanser.


Be patient, as it can take more than an hour to clean a single wall. If the house is large, you may want to split the project up into several days.

  1. Open all windows in the house, and turn on ceiling fans to promote air circulation. While you typically can't “air out” cigarette smoke from walls, it may help reduce the smell to an extent.

  2. Put on rubber gloves, and mix a solution of 1 cup ammonia, 3 gallons water, and 1 tbsp. liquid dish soap in a bucket.

  3. Agitate the liquid with your hand until bubbles form on the surface of the water.

  4. Dip a sponge into the ammonia solution. Squeeze the sponge slightly so it's still wet, but not dripping.

  5. Scrub the wall firmly until the yellow color fades away. Start in a top corner and work your way down. Dip the sponge into the ammonia solution when it gets dirty or begins to feel dry.

  6. Continue to scrub the wall until it looks clean. Repeat the process for all additional walls. Let the walls dry overnight.

  7. Fill bowls with white vinegar, and place them in the rooms with the smoke smell. The vinegar can help remove the smell.

  8. If the walls still have a yellow color or cigarette smell, as a last resort, you can paint the walls with one or two coats of paint.