In a house where smoking once occurred indoors, there likely will be cigarette smoke stains on the walls. These are unsightly to have around, and thanks to the presence of nicotine and tar, they are just as bad to clean up. There are numerous products on the market for doing this, and the best thing to do is pick one that says extra strength first. If it does not work, then it will be time for a different approach. Check out the advice below for some other options you can use. Keep in mind that this job will still take some time and elbow grease, and make sure you wear rubber gloves to protect you skin while you work.
Step 1 - Dab Stains with Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is a cheap option as most people already have it sitting around the home. Soak part of a cleaning rag in it and wipe the stains. It's important to note that this may harm some types of paint, so test it in a discreet area first. Or, if you have wallpaper instead, this might be the method for you.
When you are cleaning the walls, work your way from top to bottom. If you start near the floor, there is a good chance any excess formula will run down the walls and take the nicotine tar with it. This will dirty much of what you already cleaned. Also, if you need to, go over the walls a second time. This will depend upon the extent of the stain. If the walls have been stained for years and years, it might be required. Make sure you don't miss any spots either. Get all of the molding, corners and trim.
Step 2 - Get Out the 409
409 is a cleaner recommended for this job. Have several clean wash rags at the ready and, depending on the size and number of walls to clean, at least two bottles of 409. To avoid wasting a lot of this clean, spray it directly onto the rags rather than the walls, and then scrub the stains. That way, you won't have formula dripping down the walls before you can use it.
Step 3 - Try One of these Other Cleaning Products
In the event that the previous two methods didn't work, don't fret. There are still a number of other products you can work your way through such as Clorox Clean-Up, Mr. Clean Magic Erasers, Simple Green, and dry-cleaning chemical sponges.
Step 4 - Repaint
There is one last-ditch solution for cigarette stains when all else fails: repainting. However, you can't simply apply a coat of paint on top of the stains. The nicotine and tar will seep through. Instead, use a stain-blocking primer like Kilz Primer first. This will prevent seepage, letting you apply your paint of choice on top. It will be a dirty job, and you may be surprised just how much nicotine tar comes off as you do it.
On a related note, don’t forget to clean the outside of the blinds as the cigarette smoke will have adhered itself there as well.