Removing Smoke Stains: Vinegar, Baking Soda and More

Cigarette smoke and smoke from other sources can stain walls and fabrics and leave a residue on the surface that seems almost permanent. White walls that have been exposed to cigarette smoke will usually have a yellowish tint to them, and light-colored fabrics on couches can also discolor due to smoke contact. Luckily, smoke residue can be removed from walls and fabrics, and it can be done with various household products.

Although cigarette smoke does tend to turn walls yellow, the smoke is only able to stain the surface. You can get rid of the smell on the walls by washing them with either soap or vinegar and water, and then paint over the walls to hide the yellowish tint. Washing the walls will also help to decrease the appearance of stains, so some smoke damage may not require painting if the damage was minimal.

Furniture can also become damaged due to constant smoke exposure, but cleaning the furniture can easily reverse it. The cleaning process will depend on the type of furniture damaged, since some pieces may require special attention. You can wash your cushion covers in the washing machine, or choose to use a spray on cleaner directly on your couch. Some carpet cleaning companies have equipment for sofas and other pieces of upholstered furniture, or you can choose to rent your own cleaner from a local super store. Baking soda works great at soaking the odors out of cushions, and all you have to do is sprinkle it and let it sit for about 15 minutes before vacuuming it up.

Car upholstery can be tricky since it can’t be thrown in the washing machine, but a decent detail job should be able to help with some of the smoke damage. You can also use baking soda on the upholstery in your car, or spray it with vinegar before shampooing your seats. You can use a vinegar solution to clean any residue off of the windows, and also spray down the rugs before washing them as well. If the smoke smell is fairly strong, you can try airing out the car by rolling all of the windows down for an extended period of time.

Air fresheners only work to cover up the smell of smoke rather than eliminating it, so they should be avoided when trying to get rid of smoke damage. Smoker’s candles can be purchased at grocery stores, and actually work to neutralize the smell of smoke in the air. Spray odor neutralizers can also be purchased and sprayed in damaged rooms, but should only be done once the residue has been cleaned from both the walls and the carpets.

Carpets can be easily cleaned with vinegar as long as there are no stains or burns, or you can choose to shampoo the carpet prior to using the vinegar solution. The vinegar will also help to remove any left soap residue and make the carpet softer, along with eliminating the smell of smoke from the carpet. As long as you use only a small amount of vinegar in your solution, you wont have to worry about your house smelling like vinegar.

There are several other household products that work great at getting out stubborn odors, including ammonia and cornmeal. You can place white vinegar in bowls in smoke damaged rooms, or mix the vinegar with water, ammonia, and washing soda for extremely stubborn smoke stained walls. Borax works great at deodorizing the carpet before vacuuming, or you can wash window treatments with a bleach solution. Although smoke damage can be very annoying, it can easily be reversed by using products that you may already have in your home. If you stop smoking yesterday, then you won’t have to worry about damaging your car or home with smoke tomorrow.

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