How to Clean Cigarette Smoke From Popcorn Ceiling In 5 Easy Steps

You can remove cigarette stains from the popcorn ceiling with the help of bleach, dishwashing soap, or diluted vinegar. If nothing works, you always have the option of painting your ceiling to make it look as good as new. Here’s how to clean cigarette smoke from the popcorn ceiling. 

Every home has a unique, artistic design. From pastel tones to eclectic paintings, your home reflects your personality. Popcorn ceilings are a great choice when it comes to modern, contemporary designs. They are textured ceilings that look like kernels of popcorn. 

Cigarette smoke is not only bad for your lungs. Rather, it is bad for the ambience of your home as well since it causes nicotine and tar stains on the ceilings, walls, and anything it comes into contact with for a prolonged period of time. 

Moreover, the nicotine and tar stains hold the odor of cigarettes as well. Therefore, cleaning cigarette smoke is not only about keeping your walls sparkling clean – it is also about keeping your home smelling fresh and rosy. 

Even though popcorn ceilings make your home look nice, they not only get stained easily, but it is a bit hard to remove the stains from them as well. You simply can’t get hold of any cleaner and start treating the cigarette stains with it. Let’s see how you can get rid of nicotine stains from your popcorn ceiling.

how to clean cigarette smoke from popcorn ceiling

How to Clean Cigarette Smoke from Popcorn Ceiling

Even though removing cigarette smoke stains from popcorn ceilings is a messy and time-consuming process, it is necessary to keep your home looking neat, tidy, and homey. Popcorn ceilings catch dust, dirt, and grime very quickly. With a few simple steps, you can easily remove these stains from the ceiling. 

Prepare the Area

Supplies Required

  • Large Sheet/Drop Cloth
  • Portable Fan
  • Stepladder


  • You are going to clean the ceiling with chemical cleaners. The surrounding area will inevitably get dirty if you don’t take of it properly. Smoke stains and soot will fall off the ceiling and onto the floor and furniture. Lay down a large sheet or drop cloth on the floor, furniture, or any other items in the room.
  • Turn off the power in the room. This will make sure that water or any other solution doesn’t get into the electrical outlets as you are working. 
  • Since you will be dealing with ceiling cleaners, make sure that you have nice airflow in your room. Either open a window or use a portable fan.
  • Get a sturdy and stable stepladder to reach your ceiling. 

Remove the Dust

Supplies Required

  • Soft Bristle Brush
  • Cobweb Duster
  • Pole
  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Protective Mask
  • Butter Knife
  • Putty Knife


  • Take the duster and attach it to the pole. You can also use a vacuum cleaner with an attachment brush to clean the ceiling. If your ceiling is high, you will require a longer attachment for the vacuum.
  • Cleaning the ceiling with a duster or vacuum with loosen up the dust and debris, making it easy for you to remove the stains.
  • Cover all the furniture with old sheets or tarp to keep them safe from the dust, dirt, grime, etc. that will fall off the ceiling.
  • Wear a face mask to keep yourself from breathing the dust in. 
  • With the help of the duster, remove all the dust from the popcorn ceiling.
  • It is better to work in small sections. Start with a small area. When that is completely clean, you can move to the next section, thereby ensuring that the entire ceiling is clean.
  • We suggest that you use a vacuum for popcorn ceilings since they have uneven textures and the duster cannot get inside all the crevices. 
  • There will be yellow beading on your ceiling due to the cigarette stains. Scrape it off using a putty knife or butter knife before you start cleaning. 

Use Bleach Solution

Supplies Required

  • Bleach/Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Spray Bottle
  • Wet Cloth


  • Bleach solution helps in lifting the nicotine stains from your ceiling. Take a spray bottle and fill it with bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
  • Make sure that you are wearing protective gloves and masks to keep yourself safe. 
  • Spray the solution on the smoke stains.
  • Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  • Take a wet cloth to wipe the mixture off.
  • Repeat as many times as required.
prepare the area to clean popcorn ceiling covered in cigarette smoke

Use Dishwashing Soap Solution

Supplies Required

  • Water
  • Dishwashing Soap
  • Baking Soda
  • Clean Cloth


  1. Take one gallon of water and mix it with three tbsp. of dishwashing liquid.
  2. Add ½ cup baking soda to it as well.
  3. Dip a clean cloth in this solution and scrub the ceiling with it.
  4. Start from one side of the ceiling and choose a small area. Dry the section immediately after you are done cleaning it to prevent saturation of water in the drywall. 

Use Diluted Vinegar

Supplies Required

  • Spray Bottle
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon Juice (Optional)
  • Ammonia (Optional)


  1. Take a spray bottle and fill it with undiluted vinegar. You can use lemon juice as well as ammonia instead of vinegar if you want. You can create a solution for TSP as well but it is a bit harsh. 
  2. Open the windows to ensure ventilation, especially if you are using ammonia. 
  3. Spray the solution on the ceiling.
  4. Use a sponge to scrub the stains thoroughly. 
  5. Take a clean sponge, dip it in water, and clean the ceiling.
  6. Dry thoroughly using a clean cloth.

Alternative Method – Paint Over the Stains

It is highly likely that the stains are so ingrained into the ceiling that the above-mentioned methods didn’t do anything to remove them. If this is the case with you, don’t despair. – we have a solution for you.

You can paint over the nicotine stains and your ceiling will be as good as new.

Supplies Required

  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush


  1. After cleaning the ceiling with the above-mentioned method, your ceiling will be slightly wet. Let it dry completely.
  2. Apply a thin layer of primer that is particularly designed to prevent stains and stop odor from seeping in. 
  3. Choose a nice colored paint and apply a coat of paint to the ceiling. Once it dries, you can apply a second coat to give it an even, nice look.
alternative method to clean popcorn ceiling stained with cigarette smoke

FAQs for How to Clean Cigarette Smoke from Popcorn Ceiling

Why do I have to dry the ceiling before repeating the process?

You have to let the section you are working on dry completely because when the ceiling is wet, it may appear that the stain has been removed. However, once the ceiling dries, it reappears.

Can I use a trisodium phosphate solution to clean tobacco stains?

Yes, you can use the TSP solution. However, it is a harsh chemical that is not good for your health as well. Therefore, it should be used as a last resort.

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