How to remove nicotine stains

Smoking can cause nasty stains on your clothes and walls. Banish them with these tips on how to remove nicotine stains!

Updated 7 June 2022


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time5 minutes

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How to remove nicotine stains

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Smoking indoors often leads to nicotine stains on surfaces and fabrics, especially if this is something you’ve been doing regularly. There’s more to dealing with the aftermath of smoking than removing nicotine stains – odours have a tendency to linger as well. Read our article on how to get rid of the smell of smoke if this is the case. This article explains how to get rid of these stubborn yellow and brown marks, so your house and wardrobe will look like new again. 

Removing Nicotine Stains from Fabric: First Steps

Removing nicotine stains depends largely on the kind of fabric you are trying to clean. So before you start, make sure to follow these steps to ensure you don't further damage your clothes:

  • Read the garment care tags for your clothes, curtains, or other fabrics. These should indicate not only the fabric type, but also the correct water temperature, wash cycle, and drying method.

  • Take fabrics that are dry-clean only to a professional. Don’t attempt to clean these at home.

  • Before you try to remove nicotine stains, first spot-test your stain removal solution on a hidden area of each fabric.

  • Do not tumble-dry or iron any stained fabrics before you treat them, as the high heat can set the nicotine stain.

Removing Nicotine Stains from Washable Fabrics

You can determine whether a fabric is washable by reading the garment care tag. Washable fabrics include cotton and linen, as well as many kinds of polyester, nylon, acrylic, and spandex. Follow these easy steps to remove nicotine stains from these fabrics:

  1. 1

    In a large enough basin or sink, mix about a litre of warm water with 1/2 teaspoon of a good quality liquid laundry detergent, such as Persil Bio.

  2. 2

    Soak the stained fabrics for a minimum of 15 minutes, or longer for more heavily stained fabrics.

  3. 3

    Remove, rinse with warm water, and wring or squeeze out the excess water.

  4. 4

    If the stains persist, dampen a sponge with rubbing alcohol (also known as surgical spirit) and dab at them until they are gone. Make sure to spot-test for colour-fastness first, as rubbing alcohol can remove colours from some fabrics. You can also use a dedicated stain removal product – remember to read the directions on the label and test on a small area first.

  5. 5

    Rinse again in clean water, and wring or squeeze out excess water.

  6. 6

    Launder in your washing machine as normal, at the temperature advised on the garment care tags.

Removing Nicotine Stains from Delicate Fabrics

More delicate fabrics include acetate, rayon, silk, and wool. Always consult the care label for advice, and test any product or method on a small area first.

  1. 1

    Using a clean sponge or cloth, dab at the stain repeatedly with water. This may be enough to remove a lighter stain.

  2. 2

    If the stain persists, use a commercial stain remover suitable for that type of fabric – just follow the directions on the label and test it on a small area first.

  3. 3

    If appropriate for the type of fabric, then let the garment soak before washing as directed.

Removing Nicotine Stains from Surfaces

Household surfaces can also fall prey to nicotine stains. Here’s how to treat those stains from a variety of surfaces:

  • Plastic, aluminium, or other hard surfaces: Apply an appropriate surface cleaning spray or cream (we like the Cif range – just choose the appropriate product for your surface). Just follow the directions on the label for the best results.

  • Carpet: Use a dedicated carpet cleaning product, following the directions on the label and testing on a small area first.

  • Porcelain: Mix together warm water and washing up liquid. Rub this solution against the stain. If it persists, dampen a cloth and rub baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) onto the stain. Wipe off, rinse, and dry.

With these tips, you now know easy solutions for removing nicotine stains from your household and your wardrobe. Smoker or non-smoker, you can rest assured your clothes and home will continue to look fresh and clean.

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