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Can Paint Cover Cigarette/Cigar Smoke On The Walls?

Can Paint Cover Cigarette/Cigar Smoke Smell On The Walls?

If you’ve moved into a home that previously housed an indoor smoker, then odds are it was obvious when you first set foot inside. Unless you’re an indoor smoker yourself, you’re going to want to clean up the residual tar. When a cigarette burns, tar and nicotine from the smoke will stick to the surfaces of everything – yes, everything – and leave an off-color, yellowish grime. It is easiest to see this and is most often concentrated towards the tops of walls and on the ceiling since smoke rises. It will be extra concentrated in the area that was favored most for smoking by the previous inhabitant.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s website on thirdhand smoke, “the residue from thirdhand smoke builds up on surfaces over time. To remove the residue, hard surfaces, fabrics and upholstery need to be regularly cleaned or laundered. Thirdhand smoke can’t be eliminated by airing out rooms, opening windows, using fans or air conditioners, or confining smoking to only certain areas of a home.” Learn more.

How To Get Rid Of Smoke Residue

Trisodium Phosphate

First: Scrub the walls with TSP (Trisodium Phosphate). Be sure to follow the directions and use caution when working with TSP. This will help remove that caked on yellowish colored buildup of tar.

Light Soap & Water

Second: Clean the wall with water and a light soap to get rid of the TSP, then one more pass of cleaning with regular, clean water. After the wall is dry (could take up to a day to dry completely), then we can move on.

KILZ Paint & Primer

Third: Use KILZ paint and primer to paint over the freshly cleaned wall to help seal in and block odors.

Tools You’ll Need

  • Cleaning solution
  • Bucket(s)
  • Rags and/or sponges
  • Drop cloths for while you clean and while you paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Paint
  • Safety equipment like gloves and eye protection

The Deep Clean

The Mayo Clinic’s website also mentioned that the residual nicotine and other chemicals left on indoor surfaces by tobacco smoke, “clings to clothes, furniture, drapes, walls, bedding, carpets, dust, vehicles and other surfaces long after smoking has stopped”.

Depending on how old the home is, and how bad the tar build up is, to really get rid of the smell, you may have to consider:

  • Carpet removal
  • Drapery removal
  • Scraping popcorn ceilings
  • Air duct cleaning
  • AC system clean out
    • While you’re at it, seal your ductwork so it’s leak free, delivering only the freshest air from your newly cleaned AC system.

Unfortunately, simply painting the interior walls of your new home will not get rid of the lingering cigarette/cigar smell. However, a little bit of cleaning will go a long way to achieving your goal: a cigarette residue, thirdhand smoke free home.

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Photo Credit

  • Shutterstock


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