How To Get Rid of Nicotine Stains

Cigar and tube photo

First of all, it is important that you help in spreading correct and accurate information.  It’s actually not the nicotine that causes the stains.  Nicotine is a colorless substance, albeit very addictive and said to be carcinogenic or cancer-causing.  If it’s not nicotine that causes all those yellowish, slightly brownish stains, what does?  It’s the coal tar from the burning of the tobacco in cigars and cigarettes.

If you are a smoker yourself, or live with one who is, you will most likely notice the stains that cigarette smoke can cause to almost everything that it touches.  From curtains, to walls, to furniture surfaces—frequent exposure to cigarette smoke can make light colors turn darker, especially brownish or dark yellowish.  Cigarette and cigar smokers themselves are also victims of stains.  The discoloration is most apparent in smokers’ fingers and nails.

Some people actually don’t mind the discoloration.  But, the smell of burnt tobacco can endure along with the stains.  Also, remnants of cigarette smoking known as third-hand smoke can still be an unhealthy presence in a home, as recent studies have found out.

If you want to clean up the stains caused by cigarette smoke, you can try some of these tips:

  • Homemade cleanser.  Only two household liquids are needed for this: ammonia and hot water.  Mix the two: one part of ammonia for every three parts of hot water.  Wet a rag or sponge with the solution and use it to scrub surfaces around the house.  Some stains can be difficult to remove, so you may need to repeat the scrubbing several times.  For plastic or vinyl surfaces, you can also try this solution.  If it doesn’t work, try a stronger one: bathroom cleaner.  For best effects, spray the cleaner on the stained area and let it stand for a while.  Then, scrub or wipe the stain off.
  • Baking soda.  You can use baking soda in two ways.  The first one is for eliminating remnant odors from cigarette smoke.  To achieve this, place some baking soda in open containers spread all over the room.  Baking soda is quite effective in absorbing bad odors, including the smell of cigarettes.  You can even perform this step right after scrubbing your walls with your ammonia solution.  The second use is that of minimizing cigarette stains on your teeth.  Instead of using your regular toothpaste, brush your teeth twice a day with baking soda paste (plain baking soda made into a paste by adding some water).  You will eventually get used to the slightly salty taste.
  • Peroxide cleanser.  For cigarette stains on your fingers and fingernails, you can use a finger bath made of one part hydrogen peroxide mixed with equal part warm water.  Immerse your stained hands in the solution for about five minutes.  Done frequently and regularly, this treatment can lessen the stain on your hands and fingernails.  Use a moisturizer after treatment if your hands become too dry.

Getting rid of cigarette stains is easy to do with common household products.  Though, if you really want to get rid of cigarette stains permanently, the only way to go is to either quit smoking or to smoke outside the areas that you don’t want to be stained by the smoke.


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