How to Remove Nicotine From a Popcorn Ceiling

Nicotine stains develop on the popcorn ceilings of homes in which you or a loved one smoke cigarettes or cigars. The smoke rises to the ceiling and develops a yellowish, smelly stain. These unattractive stains also develop on the walls. Although time-consuming and messy, removing nicotine from popcorn ceilings is necessary for anyone wishing to paint or remove the ashtray odor and unsightly yellowing from his or her home.

Using a Commercial-Grade Cleaner

Step 1

Open all windows--and doors if possible--within the work area to ventilate the room and carry the harmful fumes out.

Step 2

Remove everything from the room, including curtains and drapes, furniture, knick-knacks and other decorative items. Cover the floor with plastic dropcloths to protect the carpet, tile or wood material from falling drops of cleaning solution.

Step 3

Mix powdered trisodium phosphate (TSP) in a plastic bucket according to package label directions. A common mixing formula for powdered TSP is 1 cup TSP powder to 5 cups water.

Step 4

Set the tall ladder on the floor, under the area where the nicotine staining begins on the popcorn ceiling.

Step 5

Dip a large sponge into the TSP solution, and wring out the excess. Climb the ladder and scrub the popcorn ceiling with the TSP-dampened sponge until the nicotine stain is gone. Continue scrubbing the entire popcorn ceiling until the job is completed.

Step 6

Sit oscillating fans--pointed toward the popcorn ceiling--around the room so the ceiling dries faster.

Using Household Cleaners

Step 1

Repeat Steps 1, 2, and 3 from Section 1.

Step 2

Pour equal amounts of common household ammonia and vinegar into a deep-sided bowl. Add 3 tsp. of mild dish detergent to the bowl, and slowly mix with a wooden spoon.

Step 3

Dip a clean sponge into the ammonia/vinegar solution and wring the excess out. Climb the ladder, and scrub the nicotine stains from the popcorn ceiling until all are removed.