Before photo of a family room from a home restoration job.


Maybe you’ve moved into a home that smells (or looks) of smoke. Or maybe you’ve recently quit smoking and want to rid your house of the reminder.

Whatever the case, if your home has been exposed to cigarette smoke, it has probably permeated into your walls and ceiling — causing some unpleasant smells and stains.

Tar and nicotine create a yellowish discoloration on your walls, especially toward or on the ceiling (since smoke rises — thanks, science). Not only is this smoke residue unsightly, it’s also potentially dangerous, as thirdhand smoke on surfaces like walls can cause serious health problems.

Cleaning cigarette smoke on walls is a real chore, but it’s well worth it. Not only will you lessen your exposure to harmful thirdhand smoke, you’ll also breathe easier (literally) knowing that your home is clean, odorless, and — bonus! — easier to sell when the time comes.

Here are the five main steps to removing cigarette smoke from walls. (It’s a big, time-consuming job, so you may want to enlist our cleaning services in Sioux Falls for help!)

5 Steps to Clean Cigarette Smoke on Walls

1. Choose Your Cleaning Method

When choosing a wall cleaning method for removing cigarette smoke, there are several different solutions you can try, including:

  • White vinegar
  • Ammonia
  • Trisodium phosphate (TSP)
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
  • Various other wall cleaning products

Do some research into the right solution for your home. Remember that stronger chemicals like ammonia and TSP will work wonders on large, tough stains — but they are strong, so use them with caution (and protection!).

If you’re cleaning a small or lightly soiled area, you can probably get away with a gentler solution, like the Magic Eraser.

2. Assemble All Supplies

Once you’ve chosen your preferred wall cleaning method, get all your materials together. Here’s a list of some good items to have on hand when removing smoke from walls:

  • Cleaning solution
  • Spray bottle
  • Large bucket
  • Sponge mop
  • Scrub broom
  • Drop cloth
  • Rags
  • Gloves
  • Primer
  • Paint

If your walls have latex or oil-based paint, stay away from scrub sponges, harsh chemicals, or Teflon pads, which can all leave scratch marks on your walls.

3. Prep the Area

Got everything? Good. Now you can prep the area for wall cleaning.

Start by laying down your drop cloth in case you drip solution on the floor while cleaning. Be sure to cover the baseboards particularly well.

Then, switch off the power in the room just to be safe. You’ll want to be sure you don’t get water or solution near electrical outlets while you’re working.

Finally, dust the walls by wiping them with a microfiber or damp chamois cloth.

4. Wash and Dry the Walls

Now you’re ready to get to work! (We hope you’ve had your coffee, because this could take a while. . . .)

The process of cleaning smoke from walls will differ depending on the type of cleaning agent you choose. Here are the five general steps to follow:

  1. Soak a smooth towel or rag in the solution for a few seconds.
  2. Starting at the bottom of the wall, vigorously scrub a small section (about four square feet) in circular motions, working your way up the wall as you scrub.
  3. Rinse the section with a clean cloth dampened with water.
  4. Immediately after rinsing, dry the section with a soft, clean cloth, wiping up any drips.
  5. Continue this process for the remaining sections of wall, being sure to change out the cloths and water frequently to avoid putting the gunk back on your wall.

5. Paint Over the Damage

For deep stains and smells, you may want to paint over your walls if cleaning them didn’t entirely remove the smoke.

Wait a day or two to make sure the walls have dried completely. Then, apply a primer specifically designed to stop odor and prevent stains from seeping through.

Finally, apply your colored paint. Note that a fresh coat of paint will cause non-painted portions of the wall to look duller, so be prepared to paint the entire room if necessary.

When to Hire Professional Wall Cleaning Sioux Falls

Sound like a lot of work? Unfortunately, it is.

But cleaning cigarette smoke off walls is a worthwhile investment — not just for your family but also for future owners of your home. You’ll be glad you did it!

If it’s too much work for you, though, you can always call the pros. At INTEK, we’re experts at tackling smoke damage in Sioux Falls homes.

Not only will we clean your walls and ceiling, we’ll also clean your carpets, household items, and anything else that’s been affected by cigarette smoke. Our professional products and proven methods will get the smells and stains out faster and more effectively than most could do themselves. (No offense!)

Cleaning smoke off walls isn’t a fun job, but it’s a necessary one if you want to remove every last trace of cigarette smoke in your home. Contact us today to see how we could help!