Clean Smoke Residue for Spiffier Walls

Time: 10 - 30 minutes

Smoke happens, whether it’s from the popcorn flambé you made in your microwave or your furry wrecking ball tipping a candle over and starting an indoor bonfire. But there’s no need to live with smoke residue on your walls — all it takes is some elbow grease and the right cleaners. Bonus: You’ll improve indoor air quality and avoid irreversible wall discoloration.

What's in it for you?

  • Better air quality
  • No need to repaint
  • No stained walls

(Show Me How)

Clean Smoke Residue for Spiffier Walls and Improved Air Quality

  1. Get some ventilation. Soot is hard on your lungs, and it’s even worse when mixed with fumes from cleaning chemicals. Throw open a window or two and turn on a fan. You’ll help keep those lungs strong and healthy.

  2. Clean up loose soot. Grab a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and suck up any loose soot. Don’t have access to one? Pick up a dry cleaning sponge from your local hardware store. These specially designed sponges clean sans water and are aces for wiping away the loose soot. Just make sure to press lightly so you don’t rub any soot in.

  3. Tackle smaller stains on painted walls. Put some rubbing alcohol on a cloth and gently wipe the residue on your painted wall, then let it dry. Easy!

  4. Use a simple cleaner on bigger stains. Grab some trisodium phosphate (the old favorite for cleaning painted walls) or mix something gentler by adding ¼ cup vinegar and a cup of ammonia to a gallon of hot water (make sure to ventilate when mixing). Fill a spray bottle and spritz away. Gently scrub the spritzed area with a regular sponge (a scrubby one will scratch the paint) and rinse with clean water. Bonus: Work from the bottom up to stop streaking.

  5. Use vinegar to clean wallpaper. The key here is to avoid degrading the water-soluble glue that helps wallpaper stick. Spray a little vinegar on what’s left of the smoke residue and quickly wipe it away with a clean cloth. If you let it sit too long, it’ll damage the wallpaper.

  6. Use soap to get rid of smoke residue on wood paneling. Oil-based soap will get that knotty, natural vibe back in no time. Dilute a ½ cup of oil-based soap in a bucket of water, spray on your wood paneling and wipe away. Don’t forget to rinse with clean water and dry the wood to prevent water damage. It’s also best to work in small sections so the soap doesn’t sit too long. Spiffy!

Pro Tip: Always test a less-than-visible spot on your wall before scrubbing. You’ll know you’re in the clear if the test spot doesn’t show any discoloration or lingering watermarks.

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