Is It Necessary To Cleaning Nicotine Off Walls Before Painting?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Looking to repaint your walls? You need to prepare the walls for painting first. Cleaning walls is even more important when there are cigarette stains.

Cigarettes are not just bad for your lungs, but also your walls. If you smoke, then smoking from the cigarette can cause nicotine and tar stains on your walls. Prolonged stains from cigarettes on the walls can be a big issue.

In this post, Ill discuss the importance of cleaning nicotine off walls before painting. If you have a painting project coming up, continue reading below.

Is It Necessary To Clean Nicotine Off Walls Before Painting?

Yes, it’s absolutely necessary to clean nicotine from the walls before painting. If there is a smoker in the house, then expect some stains on the walls. The yellow stains on the walls are nicotine stains.

Clean Nicotine Off Walls Before Painting

The good news is that you can alleviate the stains by repainting. Painting your home will leave it sparkling clean. However, you need to remove the nicotine off the walls before painting.

Cleaning the nicotine off the walls helps prevent it from bleeding through the walls again. If nicotine and tar are on the walls, the new paint will bleed the stains. This just goes to show the importance of cleaning the walls before any painting can be done.

While it’s possible to apply paint over nicotine walls youll need a solvent with a stain-blocking primer to prevent the stains from bleeding through the walls. So, it’s always important to clean the walls and clear all stains before painting.

So, how do you clean nicotine from walls?

What Is The Best Cleaner To Use To Remove Nicotine From Walls?

Before you get started removing nicotine from the walls, there are things you must prepare. You need the right cleaning materials. Preparation also involves getting the wall ready for cleaning. Youll need an aggressive cleaner to get all the nicotine stains from the walls.

There are various cleaner choices to consider. The best cleaner is a solution of half water mixed with half vinegar. Its chemical-free and one that will get all the stains without much damage to the hands and the environment.

What Is The Best Cleaner To Use To Remove Nicotine From Walls

Whats more, vinegar is quite effective and can help neutralize odors in the walls. The mixture is sprayed on the walls and left to stay for a few seconds before wiping it down. You might require several applications to get the wall clean and free of nicotine.

Apart from vinegar, there are multiple commercial products one can use. Most general-purpose cleaners containing trisodium phosphate are recommended.

When choosing a suitable cleaner, make sure you follow the recommended water to cleaner ratio for effective results.

Cleaning Nicotine Off Walls Before Painting: How To Remove Nicotine From Walls?

With an aggressive cleaner ready, you need to start the cleaning process. However, you still need to assemble a few instruments. Here is what you might need.

Protection: Youll need some basic protection equipment to protect your hands, eyes, and face. Common items youll need include gloves, masks, and goggles. You can also have a first aid kit nearby in case of any accidents.

Plastic sheets: Plastic sheets are essential for protecting floors and the surroundings. Consider plastic sheets that dont allow liquids to pass through them.

Cleaning solution: Ive already mentioned using vinegar or any multi-purpose cleaner.

Vacuum cleaner/brush: You also need a vacuum cleaner to remove large debris. A brush is also essential when rubbing away small debris from the walls.

Rag: Youll also need a rug to help scrub the walls and get all the dirt out. You also need a damp cloth to wipe occasional drips on the surroundings.

With all necessary materials ready, start by rearranging the furniture in the house. You must clear the walls and leave ample space for cleaning and painting.

Use the plastic sheets to protect the floors and other areas next to the floors where you dont want to be affected. Make sure the room is well-ventilated. Open the doors and windows.

Also, make sure there is no electrical wiring on the way that can lead to electric shocks. If youve followed the steps, now you can start the cleaning process.

How To Clean Nicotine Off Walls Using Vinegar/ammonia?

As indicated earlier, vinegar is an eco-friendly cleaner and one to consider using. Vinegar is quite abrasive and can handle most stains. If you dont have vinegar, you can use ammonia. Ammonia works similar to vinegar and can get the job done.

Set a tarp on the floor to protect it from any drippings. Mix the cleaning solution as per the recommended ratio.

How To Clean Nicotine Off Walls Using Vinegar-Ammonia

When using vinegar, you might need to prepare a gallon of hot water, half a cup of baking soda, and dish soap. The solution works best with vinegar helping loosen any hard stains on the walls.

Using a vacuum cleaner, remove any debris on the walls. You can also use a brush to remove small debris. Clearing debris from the walls makes it easier to apply the cleaning solution.

Next, use a damp cloth and dip it into the cleaning solution. Wipe and scrub the walls using the solution until the stains disappear. Youll need to pass the damp cloth over the wall several times for the stains to disappear.

Rub the wall in the bottom to up movements to prevent the solution from dripping on the walls. Continue rubbing the walls in circular motions. The abrasive properties of ammonia or vinegar should loosen the stain on the walls.

Repeat the process as many times as possible until all stains disappear.

Are there stains that seem impossible to remove? If yes, then you need a more aggressive cleaning. In such cases, you need to use Savogran Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) which acts as a tar remover and degreaser.

TSP is more dangerous and difficult to handle than vinegar. Youll need to protect yourself effectively. You just need a tablespoon of TSP in a gallon of water. With the solution ready, repeat the same cleaning process as the one above to remove stubborn stains.

However, youll need the solution on the walls for a few seconds before scrubbing. Always use a damp clean cloth to wipe the stains away.

See Also:How To Clean Cabinets Before Painting?

Clear Nicotine Odors

Once the wall cleaning is complete, you need to ensure there are no nicotine odors in the room. The recirculating HVAC system will get the odors back into the walls and leave your home with a bad nicotine odor.

Clear Nicotine Odors

Clean all rugs and curtains in the room. You also need to clean the vent by using a reversible fan to get all odors outside. Additionally, you can use smoke-removing products or smoke candles.

Key Points:

  • Nicotine from smoking penetrates through paint and settles on the wall pores and cracks. This leaves stains and odors on the walls
  • If youre repainting, you must first clean the walls and remove the nicotine stains. This prevents them from bleeding again after painting.
  • Removing nicotine from walls requires an aggressive cleaner like vinegar, ammonia, or TSP. Wipe and scrub the walls with a damp cloth severally until the stains are gone.
  • Cleaning the wall is necessary if you want excellent paint results.


Well, thats it from me! Cleaning nicotine off walls before painting is necessary. While there are professional stain and odor removals, you can clean the walls on your own with the right cleaner.

Use vinegar or ammonia to loosen the stains before wiping them away. If the stains have accumulated over time, youll need to apply the solution and wipe it several times. If everything fails, a commercial TSP solution can remove the most stubborn stains.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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