Nicotine and Cooking stained walls

KeithBCFebruary 20, 2010

I clean therefore I blush in asking this through this site!!

I have just purchased a 6 year old house in which smoking and cooking took place apparently without thought to venting or opening windows. In times past, I used TSP, bleach and a drop or two of dish soap in reasonably warm water, using rubber gloves then rinsing.

I am older now and wish to clean the painted gyproc walls, wood trim and the 'plastic' doors used in modular house construction with less effort (blush).

I do know the tsp and bleach work - it's just the extreme that I wanted to avoid.

Recommendations please!! I can't get in until 22 MAR so I have time to fret!!

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There is no easy way around the work of cleaning walls, but using a product that you don't have to rinse would be one of them. How about powdered Dirtex?

Here is a link that might be useful: Dirtex

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 8:38AM
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Use a Mr clean magic eraser and then go over them with clear water a couple of times. Change your water often as it will get dirty fast. The magic eraser will get the dirt but the water will make sure it gets washed off. Much easier on the hands than bleach and will do just as good if not a better job.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2010 at 6:03PM
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Thanks to both! Dirtex may not be available in my area - small town, western Canada (20 miles from the winter Olympics)
As to the Magic eraser - door, ceilings and walls of a 1600 sq ft house may be to much to ask of the eraser!!
I will give Dirtex a more thorough search during the week, and the eraser is available!!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 12:02AM
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Paint stores usually have an array of products for wall cleaning. If they don't have Dirtex, they may have another no rinse product.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2010 at 8:55AM
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Can you order from Amazon? They have it there.....

I have used Dirtex in the can for over 15 years. It's great stuff and works for lots of things. I didn't know they had it in powder. I'm going to try that!

I envy you living in such's breathtaking there! Outstanding job on Olympic games,...and congrats! I love Canadians! :)

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 11:39PM
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I am a Realtor and we find that the best way to deal with nicotine stain and odors in a home that have bonded with all surfaces is to get rid of all textiles (curtains, drapes), remove all carpeting and pading. Scrub down cabinets inside and out with a good cleaner. Wash down painted surfaces (walls, ceilings, woodwork). Put one coat of Kilz (stain killer also seals odor) on all painted surfaces AND the subflooring, then repaint in whatever color you want.

It is a lot of work but you only do it once. The problem with nicotine is that it can bleed through new paint after a year or so and the odor is so difficult to totally get rid of.

For homes that have been seriously damaged by pets spraying and "toileting" inside, anything within the reach of the substances needs to be treated the same way: wash down, apply Kilz and repaint/recarpet.

We find we just can't sell a smelly home no matter how clean it looks! The chances of finding a buyer who won't object are too rare.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 6:47AM
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I had to do a major clean with the nicotine problem. Surprisingly what worked with almost no effort was Fantastik with OxyClean. Just get a U-Haul of paper towels, spray, let it sit for 30 seconds (more and it'll drip), and wipe. Work from the bottom up - has a wonderful fresh smell.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2010 at 3:22AM
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TSP is pretty strong stuff.You don't need the clorox.Depending how strong you mix it,it will remove just about anything,including paint.
Don't forget to wear gloves and put down plastic on the floor.
Don Aslet,the cleaning guy,uses a 2 bucket method.One is for suds and the other is for rinsing.It makes the job faster and you're not putting the dirt back on the wall with a dirty rag.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2010 at 1:04AM
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Does the Fantastik with OxyClean really work for getting nicotine off? we are doing a bathroom where it was smoked in for many years. My brother tried the TSP - didn't do anything. I'm trying to clean it off the grout in the ceramic tiles on the wall. I found a recipe that included Hydrogen peroxide, alcohol and water - it did better. Didn't look too much difference right away, but when I went back an hour it looked whiter. I'm going to try the Fantastik with oxyclean - that will be wonderful it it works. :-)

    Bookmark   March 30, 2010 at 10:57AM
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My thanks to all and the great tips and ideas. This was in no way an easy task in that the move from one into another allowed less than half a day and this was taken up with a professional carpet clean.
I checked in with a local supplier (Janitor's Warehouse) and picked up a product called OxySlam. A peroxide base cleaner that can be used in clothes wash as well. lov2garden's radical approach is the one we ended up getting closer to. The drapes are down and gone. We washed all surfaces especially tops of doors and frames, inside the weatherstripping, vents down and scrubbed.
Windows washed, in this case, the vinyl frames can be removed, etc, etc.
We have started the paint job with kils (yes - a familiar product for me) the carpets are coming out being replaced with laminate - room by room.
It will take time but eventually the entire inside surface of the house will either be kils, and painted or removed.
There really is no other way to be absolutely certain.
I have only one other thing that I may have trouble cleaning.
There is a moulded plexiglass skylight in the kitchen area that is going to need some care. I'll let you know of the outcome.
Thanks also for the Canadian references. Yes, the 2010 Winter Olympics turned out great but the snow is now arriving for some of the best spring skiing ever!! Mother will do it as she sees fit - her sense of timing and humour must be seen to be appreciated. BC is immense and contains some of the freshest water and air, great surfing beaches, I could go on but -------

    Bookmark   April 6, 2010 at 11:05PM
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We had the same mess when we moved in our hnome. We took the screws out to remove the handles from the cabinets and they still stuck.. We still had to pill them off. Took awhile but we got it done..


    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 10:28PM
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We just went through the process of smoke removal in the house we just bought. First thing we did is pull all drapes down & removed all the carpet. Then we used a mixture of ammonia & water to clean the walls, ceilings, toilets, etc. Pending on the severity of the smokers damage, wether to make mixture stronger or weaker. The worse it was, the stronger the ammonia. Mask, gloves, & some source of ventilation (fans & opening windows). Next step was to use Killz (Indoor). Make sure you get the right one for the paint you are going to use afterwards. May need 2 coats, pending on severity. After all that apply whatever paint. Spray nine works well on appliances to remove smoke. Also for wood trim use a mixture of Murphey's oil soap & water to wash walls. Follow along with a white rag to make sure you get the smoke off. Good luck

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 9:50PM
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When we bought our house, there was a noticable smell of cigarettes in the bathroom. Seems the prior owner had painted it in preparation for selling and smoked while painting . (Isn't that dangerous?) We also noticed brown rivulets of steam when we took showerrs. We primed the walls with Kilz (it comes in both oil base and latex formulas), then repainted. Problem solved. Later on we remodeled our bathroom and re-did the walls with floor to ceiling tiles.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 11:42AM
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By the way, if you are looking for TSP, try to find a store (grocery/hardware) that sells Spic and Span powder. My Dad was a fan of TSP for cleaning. S&S is made with TSP. But wear gloves-it's so strong it will eat the skin off your hands !
I'm done.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 11:46AM
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Hi all - a related question to removing nicotine stains. We have a unit where a cigar/pipe smoker was living for 18 months. We made the mistake of painting the walls and hoping it would take care of the smell, but it didn't do a thing. I had previously cleaned the walls with hot water/ammonia/vinegar/washing soda, using two buckets and rinsing very frequently. If we were to repaint and use a sealer like Kilz or BIN, is there any point to trying to clean the walls again, or is the nicotine all mixed in with the new paint? Thanks!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 4:18PM
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