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How to Get Out a Cigarette Smoke Stain

Michael E Carpenter

Cigarettes turn bright whites into dingy yellows. After years of exposure to cigarette smoke, clothes, curtains, walls and floors are permeated with smell and stains. Removing cigarette smoke stains can be time-consuming and frustrating. Some cigarette smoke stains can be removed with household items. Others require commercial cleaning products and elbow grease. It may take multiple cleanings to completely remove the stains. Taking the time and effort can save money by not having to throw out and replace the stained items.

Washable Fibers

Cigarette stains can be tackled in many different ways.
  1. Soak stained items that can be run through the laundry machine in a mixture of 1 qt. warm water, 1/2 tsp. liquid detergent, and 1 tbsp. vinegar for 15 minutes. The vinegar and detergent work together to loosen and remove the stain.

  2. Remove the item and swab any remaining stain with rubbing alcohol. Rinse well with warm water.

  3. Allow item to air-dry and then wash immediately. Repeat steps if necessary.

White Washable Fibers

  1. Soak white item in mixture of 1 gallon hot water, 1/4 cup bleach, 1/4 cup dishwasher detergent. Let it soak for 15 minutes. Whites tend to yellow over time in exposure to cigarette smoke. The bleach will work to return it to the bright white it was before.

  2. Wash the soaked white item in the laundry as soon as removing it from the soak. Use normal laundry detergent. Repeat if necessary.

  3. Add regular Coca-Cola to the laundry, if after soaking there is still a noticeable yellowing of the material. One can should be enough. Do not use diet, caffeine-free, or flavored varieties of Coke. Coke helps loosen grease and hard-to-remove stains. Use normal laundry detergent. Repeat as necessary.

Removing Cigarette Stains from Walls

  1. Purchase commercial cleaner like Formula 409. The cleaning agent should be considered a degreaser; purchase the maximum strength possible. The stronger the cleaning agent, the less elbow grease needed.

  2. Apply the cleaning agent to the rags for scrubbing. Start at the top and work your way down the wall. Do this as many times as necessary to remove the stain.

  3. Repaint the area with primer and top coat if you are unable to remove the stain sufficiently with the commercial cleaners.