How to Clean Smoke off Painted Walls Like a Pro

A variety of cleaning tools such as a sponge

Table of Contents

Smoke damage can be a daunting issue to tackle, especially on painted walls. Whether it’s from a small kitchen mishap or a more serious incident, the residue left behind can be unsightly and even harmful to your health. But don’t worry, with the right knowledge and tools, you can restore your walls to their former glory. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of cleaning smoke off painted walls like a pro.

Understanding Smoke Damage

Before we dive into the cleaning process, it’s important to understand what smoke damage is and why it’s so challenging to clean. Smoke is composed of a variety of particles and gases, many of which are harmful. When these particles settle on your walls, they can cause discoloration and a lingering smell.

Smoke damage can be categorized into two types: oily residue and dry residue. Oily residue is usually from burning kitchen grease or plastic materials, while dry residue comes from burning wood or paper. Knowing the type of residue you’re dealing with can help you choose the right cleaning method.


Before you start cleaning, you’ll need to prepare the area and gather the necessary supplies. This step is crucial to ensure a safe and efficient cleaning process.

Gather Your Supplies

Here’s a list of supplies you’ll need:

  • Protective gear (gloves, goggles, and a mask)
  • Bucket
  • Sponges or soft cloths
  • Dry towels
  • Commercial smoke damage cleaner or homemade solution
  • Paint (if necessary)

When choosing a smoke damage cleaner, look for one that’s specifically designed for the type of residue you’re dealing with. If you prefer a homemade solution, a mixture of vinegar and warm water can be effective.

Prepare the Area

Start by removing any furniture or decor from the area. This will give you more room to work and prevent any items from getting damaged. Next, lay down a drop cloth or plastic sheet to protect your floor from any drips or spills. Finally, put on your protective gear to shield yourself from any harmful particles.

Step-by-Step Cleaning Process

Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to start cleaning. Follow these steps for the best results:

  1. Test the cleaner: Apply a small amount of your chosen cleaner to an inconspicuous area. Wait a few minutes, then wipe it off. If the paint doesn’t come off, you can proceed to the next step.
  2. Apply the cleaner: Dip a sponge or soft cloth into the cleaner, then apply it to the smoke-damaged area. Be sure to work in small sections to prevent the cleaner from drying before you can rinse it off.
  3. Rinse: After you’ve applied the cleaner, rinse the area with a sponge or cloth dipped in clean water. Make sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all the cleaner.
  4. Dry: Use a dry towel to pat the area dry. Avoid rubbing, as this can spread the residue.
  5. Repeat: If the smoke damage is still visible, repeat the process until it’s gone.

Remember, patience is key when cleaning smoke damage. It may take several attempts to fully remove the residue.


If the smoke damage is too severe or the paint has been damaged, you may need to repaint the wall. Here’s how:

  1. Prime: Apply a stain-blocking primer to the wall. This will help cover any remaining smoke stains and prevent them from bleeding through the new paint.
  2. Paint: Once the primer is dry, apply your chosen paint. You may need to apply several coats for full coverage.

When choosing paint, consider using one with a semi-gloss or gloss finish. These finishes are more resistant to stains and easier to clean, making them a great choice for areas prone to smoke damage.

Preventing Future Smoke Damage

After you’ve put in the hard work to clean your walls, you’ll want to prevent future smoke damage. Here are some tips:

  • Install smoke detectors: These devices can alert you to a fire before it gets out of control, helping to minimize smoke damage.
  • Be mindful when cooking: Most smoke damage in homes comes from kitchen fires. Always keep an eye on your food and keep flammable items away from the stove.
  • Properly extinguish cigarettes: If you smoke, make sure to fully extinguish your cigarettes and dispose of them safely.

With these tips, you can keep your painted walls looking fresh and clean. Remember, cleaning smoke damage can be a time-consuming process, but with patience and the right tools, you can do it like a pro.

Become a Smoke Damage Cleaning Expert

Ready to take your cleaning skills to the next level? Join the family and never second-guess your cleaning methods again. Whether you’re dealing with a minor soot stain or a major smoke disaster, our free tips, techniques, and advice are designed to help you tackle any mess with confidence. Subscribe to our free email list today and gain access to exclusive article roundups, special offers, and pro tips that will make you the master of clean. Say goodbye to smoke-stained walls and hello to spotless surfaces with!

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