How to Remove Tobacco Stains from Walls and Ceilings


John asked: How do I remove tobacco stains from the walls?

Removing tobacco stains can be a real nuisance. It can be time consuming if the stains are present throughout the entire home. Here are some effective cleaning products that will help get the job done quickly.

You Will Need:

Steps to Remove the Stains:

  1. Choosing the right cleaner will largely depend on the amount of space you are trying to clean. For larger areas, choose a cleaner that can be sprayed onto the walls and wiped off. For smaller areas, products like the Magic Eraser will work quickly and effortlessly.
  2. Once you have chosen your cleaner and gathered your materials, you are ready to tackle the cleaning job.
  3. Moisten a soft cloth or towel with the cleaning solution, or spray it directly onto the wall. Work in small sections no wider than 4 feet. It is also best to work from the top to the bottom to avoid dripping on the sections of wall that have already been cleaned.
  4. Use a circular motion to scrub the area with a sponge or soft cloth to remove the stain.
  5. Rinse with a clean cloth moistened with clean water.
  6. Dry with a soft cloth.
  7. Move to the next section and repeat. Continue until all of the wall areas have been cleaned.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • If the stain cannot be removed, it may be easiest to paint over it with a primer and then the original color.
  • Be aware that even though the stains may appear to be in one area only, once you start cleaning the walls, you may find that you are committed to cleaning them all to keep from the untouched ones appearing darker or dirty.
  • Avoid applying too much pressure while scrubbing because it can damage the surface and remove some of the paint.


  1. I have found that diluted sugar soap in a spray bottle works wonders. It can be used to clean just about every surface except wood.

    I use it in my wash – gets stains out of whites wonderfully. Soak baking dishes in solution – grease just dissolves. It is a marvel in a bottle!

  2. Works for me.

    Use a sponge mop (used on floors) and use liquid soap; wash the walls the same way you wash your floors (use damp, not wet). I washed a 8 ft. x 20 ft. wall in less than 5 minutes, the entire room in less than 20 minutes. Change the water often; it gets dirty fast.

    To clean the tub/shower walls: stop water from draining out of tub, put in soap and water – about 4 inches of water, (I use dishwasher soap) and use a sponge mop to clean the walls and sides with the water in the bottom of the tub (the soap in the tub water will clean the bottom while you’re cleaning the walls with the same water. Rinse and let dry. Takes about 5 minutes.

  3. Charles says:

    I used Oxiclean and Nillium (an odor neutralizer available at janitorial supply stores). Wipe with a large car wash type sponge, then rinse with a clean cloth from another bucket of plain water. Use two buckets and change water often.

  4. White vinegar also works (I do about half and half with water). Just be careful when opening the microwave, since a face full of vinegar steam is not pleasant. It doesn’t smell as nice as the lemon, but it really cuts through some serious crud. I always have gallon jugs on hand for cleaning!

  5. Deborah says:

    Always work from the bottom to the top of a wall or you will get stains from the run off and theses are very difficult to remove. Wiping over the run off on a wet wall is a lot easier and does not leave difficult stains.

  6. Use CAUTION when reading a website. In relation to interior wall cleaning. I found the info here was useful until I found that one page says, “It’s best to work from bottom to top.” And, one page says, “It’s best to work from top to bottom.” WATCH OUT FOR MISLEADERS. In my opinion: “It’s best to use your good common sense, and be consistent.” by: Paula Ann

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