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How To Clean Smoke Off Walls

How To Clean Smoke Off Walls

It does not matter if the smoke stain on the wall came from the fireplace, cigarette, kitchen stove, or an unattended candle. The tar and soot accumulated on the wall leave a yellowish and oily residue on the wall which is tough to eliminate. It also fills the space with a bad odor which can last for a long time.

If you don’t quickly get rid of this issue, it also has serious health hazards that can affect the respiration system. The invisible black particles when entering your lungs, get spread into your bloodstream. The impurities can disburse all over the body part and cause harmful diseases.

What Causes Smoke Stains On The Wall

  • Fire smoke: Whether it is a large or a small fire, it damages anything that comes into contact with it. The soot residue left after fire damage is even tough to face. It is better to deal with and clean the walls before it wreaks havoc on your health.
  • Nicotine smoke damage: Years of smoking can leave a yellowish stain on walls which can be tough to remove permanently. Not only the stains, but it also leaves the stale smoke odor of cigarettes.
  • Kitchen accidents: Kitchen mishaps can happen sometimes when you are cooking. Maybe a bag of popcorn popped too long or you left a pan of food unattended. There are various cases where the smoke can affect the wall making it look unattractive.

Precautions To Be Taken While Cleaning the Smoke From Walls

  • Wear heavy-duty gloves, goggles, long-sleeve clothes, and a well-filtered mask, to prevent soot particles from getting into your bloodstream.
  • Make sure the space you are cleaning is well-ventilated while using flammable cleaning methods like ammonia.
  • Use a ladder to clean ceilings or any space where you cannot reach them.
  • Don’t use a water-based cleaning procedure on plaster walls. Plaster walls are porous and subject to moisture damage. You can utilize alcohol and paint thinner to get rid of smoke damage.
  • Test harsh chemicals like alcohol, ammonia, and trisodium phosphate on a hidden corner of the wall before applying them.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals like bleach. It can damage the wall making it discolored.

How To Clean Smoke Off Walls

Even if it small soot stain from an unattended candle or maybe big fire damage from kitchen accidents. It is necessary to clear up the soot damage on the wall. It is a messy encounter but you need to eliminate the soot from the walls to prevent further damage. Without the right tool and equipment, the cleaning process of wall smoke can be a long-lasting procedure. That is why you will need following equipment and cleaning agents.

Equipment Needed

  • Chemical sponge
  • Vacuum
  • Gloves
  • well-filtered mask
  • Safety goggles
  • Hot water
  • Degreaser
  • Fan
  • Clean cloth
  • Plastic sheet

Method Specific Cleaning Agent

  • Trisodium phosphate and water solution
  • Vinegar and hot water. solution
  • warm water with dishwashing soap.
  • Commercial soot cleaning cleanser

Cleaning Fire Smoke From Walls

Cleaning Soot Off After a Fire Damage

Usually, it is tough to eliminate soot stains caused by fire. It is better to opt for a tough cleaning solution like trisodium phosphate. Make sure to do a small patch test in a corner to ensure the wall do not get damaged by the agent. If the smoke damage on the wall is not so tough, you can replace TSP with gentle cleaner like 50:50 vinegar and water and dishwashing soap.


  1. Empty the space where you are going to clean. Soot particles can drop on other furniture and other household materials. This will make your work more long-running.
  2. Cover the whole floor with a plastic sheet so that the dust particles from the smoke will not damage the surface too.
  3. Now begin by removing as much as soot from the wall. Utilize a vacuum cleaner with a strong suction ability or a duster in case of dry soot.
  4. Use a chemical sponge to wipe to absorb the residue. Start at the top left of the stain, and wipe the wall using downward, overlapping strokes. Keep repeating the same stroke until you reach the bottom-right edge. ( Replace the sponge with a new one if it is covered with soot.)
  5. For the next step, prepare a degreaser to wipe off the smoke from your walls. Use 1 tablespoon of trisodium phosphate to 1 gallon of warm water.
  6. Soak a clean cloth with the degreaser. Wipe the soot from the top-left edge in a downright and overlapping stroke. Rinse the cloth once it is dirty or replace it with a new one. Also, refill the bucket of degreaser once it is filled with soft dirt.
  7. Once you have cleaned the whole wall, repeat the process with a new cloth and clean it with hot water.
  8. Smoke damage can make the paint chip or peel. If necessary repaint the whole wall with a similar color or new color to make it look brand new.
  9. Let the wall space air dry after the whole process is complete.

Cleaning Nicotine Smoke Damage From Walls

Cleaning Smoke Damage Caused By Nicotine
Credit: Joe Crivello-Sorensen

Cleaning the nicotine stain depends upon how long the room has been smoked. Mild strains can be easily removed with lemon and water cleaning solution. But, greasy tar developed by nicotine requires extra elbow grease and duration.


  1. Wear protective gear like goggles, filtered masks, hard gloves, and long-sleeve cloth.
  2. Spread a plastic sheet on the surface to save the floor from getting further damaged.
  3. Remove the furniture and other upholstery before you begin. Start by vacuuming the residue as much as you can.
  4. Make a cleaning solution according to the degree of smoke stain. For mild stains, you can make a mixture of one gallon of hot water, three tablespoons of dishwashing soap, and a half cup of baking soda. In case of a greasy tar stain, opt for a powerful cleaning solution. Apply a cup of white vinegar, lemon juice, and ammonia into a spray bottle. In the worst-case scenario use a tablespoon of trisodium phosphate and a gallon of warm water.
  5. Use a clean rag to scrub the wall, and start scrubbing in a circular motion in a small section. Spray vinegar and ammonia solution if the stain remains. Keep in mind to replace the cloth and the water constantly once it is dirty. For trisodium phosphate cleaner, allow the solution to sit for several minutes before rinsing it off.
  6. Keep repeating step 5 until the stain vanishes.
  7. If necessary, repaint the whole room with a new or similar color.

Cleaning Smoke From Wall Caused by Kitchen Accidents

smoke stain caused by kitchen accidents

The soot from kitchen accidents manages to attach to the wall even if it is a small one. It is difficult to remove it but not impossible. Follow the below step to get rid of these stains.


  1. Empty the room of furniture or upholstery. If it is not possible you can utilize a floor covering to cover the room accessories and carpets.
  2. Vacuum away the soot particles so that they will not smear on the wall.
  3. Utilize a soot sponge to dry clean in a straight parallel stroke to grab the black particles.
  4. Use dishwashing soap and water solution for the next step.
  5. Dip the regular sponge in the solution and wring it.
  6. Start from the top of the wall to the way down. Keep changing the solution if it turns black. Also use a brand new sponge it is tainted with the soot.
  7. Rinse it with clean water.
  8. Let the wall dry naturally lastly.

How To Remove Smoke Odor From The Wall?

Cigarette smoke has features that can cling onto the wall pores. The stale bad odor of nicotine is not fun to inhale. Smoke from fire hazards is also not a pleasant fragrance to deal with. This issue can somehow be treated with some solution.

  • Vinegar: Vinegar has a strong smell that can replace the odor of the smoke. The smell of the vinegar however can vanish within 24 hours. You can also mix essential oils like lavender or lemon onto the vinegar to cut its smell. Place a bowl of vinegar and essential oil mixture in the affected room to get rid of the stink. Or, wipe the furniture in the household by using water and vinegar solution.
  • Baking soda: This is an effective solution to eliminating smoke odor. Baking soda can absorb the smell rather than mask them. Sprinkle baking soda on the surface of the damaged space and let it sit for 24 hours. Vacuum the baking soda afterward. You can also place a bowl of baking soda solution in the space to spread its aromatic fragrance. 
  • Vodka and water: Apply 1-quarter of vodka and 2 cups of warm water solution right after cleaning the stained walls. It will help to abolish the smoke smell.
  • Air freshener: For mild odor, you can purchase a commercial air freshener and spray it in the room.
  • Steam cleaning: A steam cleaner is an appliance that can germs and smell from various surfaces. With the help of hot steam, clean the surface of the light. Make sure not to saturate the wall as it can melt the drywall.

How to Avoid Fire Damage In Future?

No matter how big the fire damage was, it can cause a lot of damage to your possessions and your memories. It is better to take precautions to prevent any future fire hazards. Make sure of the following suggestions:

  • Install fire alarms with battery backup in every corner of the house. Interconnect the wires together of every house so that if one sounds every alarm in the house sounds at the same time.
  • Select furniture and fire-resistant furnishing materials.
  • Don’t leave candles or anything flaming unattended. It can result in serious fire incidents.
  • Inspect loose wires, heating, plumbing, and air conditioning from time to time to prevent future short circuits.
  • Always stay in the kitchen while cooking. Never leave a kitchen rag near a burning stove. 
  • Try to smoke cigarettes outside your peripheral. Extinguish the cigarette in the ashtray after you are done. You can soak the cigarette butt in the water to be safe. 
  • Use a space heater in a well-ventilated area. Also, distance portable heaters from flammable materials like curtains.
  • In case of fireplace hazards, use glass fireplace doors or a wire mesh spark to avoid fire.
  • Keep flammable liquids like kerosene, diesel, thinner, and propane in an isolated and ventilated area. Avoid these items from the kitchen or any space where there is excess use of fire.