Thread Tools
Old 02-27-2007, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: VT
Posts: 12,872
Best way to clean smoke off of a painted wall?

So the other week, one of my roommates accidentally started a grease fire in the kitchen. No permanent damage, but there is now a layer of smoke crud on a couple walls and the ceiling in the kitchen. I have tried water, water with soap, Formula 409, some kind of Clorox spray, and something called TSP that my other roommate said was great at removing smoke (it even said so on the jar (it's a powder you mix with water.) All of them worked the same, which is to say, they removed most of the smoke residue, but there is still a layer of grey-ish smears across everything that will not come up. I figure no matter what, we'll have to paint over it, since the Formula 409 actually took off some of the paint, but I'm worried that the paint won't stick well if there is still some smoke residue, so I'm wondering if there's anything else i can try, or if I should just get one of those ultra-duty all-purpose primers and use that first. (Then the hard part comes in guessing the color...I'm fairly sure it's all just plain white, and probably eggshell, but I know it won't match perfectly no matter what.)
Old 02-27-2007, 11:58 AM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 2,702
I've heard that a vinegar and water solution would help. Don't just go out and try it though. But I've never tried it
Old 02-27-2007, 12:05 PM
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Flatlander in NH
Posts: 25,528
I was going to mention the Mr Clean erasers (a lot of them); there is other advice here which mentions them and Clorox wipes.

This also mentions TSP for cleaning:

<<Tri-sodium phosphate, or TSP. This is a caustic chemical commonly used as an all-purpose cleaning agent. It's a powerful degreaser and cleaner and makes short work of things like grease and soot. You can use TSP to clean clothing, walls, floors, and some furniture. Pine cleaners will work, too, and are typically less caustic. As such, using them will take a little longer.>>
Old 02-27-2007, 12:09 PM
Just Lovely and Delicious
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Northeast Ohio
Posts: 24,500
For cigarette smoke, we find at our house that Windex works great.

This has been tested multiple times on the white walls of a 4x5 room in which someone smoked 10+ hours a day.
Old 02-27-2007, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: NH, Escaped from MA
Posts: 2,896
Simple Green. Dilute to 10-1 strength.

Simple Green removes everything! And sanitizes your surfaces while you're at it!

(who doesn't work for anyone related to the Simple Green product, but buys it in gallon containers)
Old 02-27-2007, 12:52 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: San Francisco area
Posts: 16,185
Kilz or BIN stain-blocking primer will stick to the smoke - wash off the big lumps (you've already done this), patch as needed, prime and paint.
Old 02-27-2007, 01:25 PM
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 874
I came in here to mention Simple Green too. I had a weird greasy, sooty residue all over the walls in a couple rooms of an old apartment that my landlords claimed I caused, but I definitely didn't. Simple Green took it right off, left no trace and didn't even disturb the finish of the paint, and I got every penny of my deposit back. Plus you can drink it!
Old 02-27-2007, 06:13 PM
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Arcade
Posts: 2,280
Originally Posted by ZipperJJ
For cigarette smoke, we find at our house that Windex works great.
Even better if you add some more ammonia to it. That's what I use for equipment coated in a bar or (once upon a time) office.
Old 02-27-2007, 08:52 PM
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: The lovely Midwest
Posts: 1,839
Originally Posted by Mishell
Plus you can drink it!
You can drink Simple Green? What's in it, then?

I would suggest Magic Erasers. They cleaned bat blood off my bedroom walls in a second. It was amazing.
Old 02-27-2007, 09:00 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 22,536
Originally Posted by Mirror Image egamI rorriM
You can drink Simple Green? What's in it, then?
Not sure I'd want to drink it. According to the MSDS (PDF), the ingredients are:
Bardac 208M (80% active)
CAS# 6836-67
To provide:
Octyl decyl dimethyl ammonium chloride
Dioctyl dimethyl ammonium chloride
Didecyl dimethyl ammonium chloride
Alkyl (C14 50%, C12 40%, C16 10%) dimethyl
benzyl ammonium chloride
It also warns:
INGESTION: If swallowed, immediately give 3-4 glasses of milk (if unavailable, give water.) Do not induce vomiting. If vomiting does occur, give fluids again. Get immediate medical attention. Have physician determine if patientís condition allows for induction of vomiting or evacuation of the stomach. Do not give anything my mouth to an unconscious or convulsing person. Note to Physician: Possible mucosal damage may contraindicate the use of gastric lavage. Measures against circulatory shock, as well as oxygen and measures to support breathing manually or mechanically may be needed.
Old 12-12-2013, 11:34 AM
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 1
I was just searching on the same thing and I never would have though about the TSP. it is an extremely good solvent and not really that harmful, my family was in chemical manufacturing and I remember using it as an ingredient in our brands of degreaser, similar to purple power or whatever your local purple degreaser is (cant remember the names) they usually have butyl in them also which helps. I'm not sure if it is "listed as harmful" but I don't remember the TSP hurting me at all. I am going to try to do a few things and see what works for me. My girlfriend and I are both smokers and smoke in one room in our house and I have noticed yellowing and would like to find a solution. Windex may work as suggested above, I will probably try that first since it evaporates easy. Degreasers tend to be hard to rinse off. I will see what works and get back.. lol
Old 12-12-2013, 12:00 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: North of 8 Mile
Posts: 3,979
Originally Posted by Mirror Image egamI rorriM View Post
They cleaned bat blood off my bedroom walls in a second. It was amazing.
What in the name of Og goes on in your bedroom?
Old 12-12-2013, 12:13 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Dayton Ohio USA
Posts: 27,517
Originally Posted by Si Amigo View Post
What in the name of Og goes on in your bedroom?
I don't know but if his name is Osborn then maybe something drinkable is worth looking into.
Old 12-12-2013, 12:20 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Dayton Ohio USA
Posts: 27,517
I usually use TSP but if it's a large area then give windex and simply green a shot. I just cleaned a rental bathroom tub and the only thing that worked was straight TSP. I dumped it dry on the surface and scrubbed with a wet brush. It was many many magnitudes better than the tub cleaner I was using. NEVER use those little pre-soaped steel wool pads. It immediately transferred the blue coloring to the tub.
Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:46 PM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: barber strap tobytown md can of woopass check vs cheque trugreen prices mexican stop signs postmark stamp stuck wine cork ramune marble removal replacement car headrests spell cream remove nipple leftover fried pork chops recipes vietnam veterans baseball caps does geek squad clean laptops star wars thx widescreen vhs putting really wet clothes in dryer you deserve better than me traci lords penthouse centerfold my hands felt like two balloons why is dmv so slow all in the family theme song full version meineke brake service cost are the phases of the moon the same everywhere kn air filter hp gain what does balling mean