How to remodel a home with nicotine residue? It can be a difficult and lengthy DIY project, but that’s not to say it can’t be done.    First, it is important to understand if you are going to take on the task of remodeling a home to remove nicotine residue; it is fruitless if the smoker is still continuing the habit.  Normally I wouldn’t make such a bold statement, but the amount of time invested in removing the nicotine residue is lengthy.  That’s not including the cost involved.


1“Once the smoke clears, after a cigarette has been extinguished, nicotine and other harmful chemicals left behind can stick to surfaces and fabrics. This residue is known as third-hand smoke…. There is growing evidence that third-hand smoke contamination is extensive and can linger for extended periods. Non-smokers can be exposed to third-hand smoke from breathing residual gases, touching surfaces, and swallowing dust. Chemical reactions of nicotine stuck to surfaces can lead to an increase in the amount of carcinogenic chemicals over time.” Therefore, it is important to take precautions when remodeling and cleaning a home that has nicotine residue.

The yellowish sticky nicotine residue adheres to walls, floors, countertops, furniture, and HVAC systems carry it throughout the home.  There won’t be a surface that isn’t affected by the sticky residue.  In my opinion, I would begin from the top and work down.


Removing all window treatments is also recommended.  If you have expensive blinds, soak them in ammonia to remove the residue.  Always wear gloves when working with contaminated surfaces and cleaning solutions.  Sometimes, it’s better to replace these blinds than to clean them.  It all depends on your budget and the time available to clean them.

Many professionals will recommend wiping down all surfaces, including the ceiling, with ammonia.  If there is still residue from the nicotine, there is a more caustic substance called trisodium phosphate (TSP).  Be sure to wide down outside and inside all cabinets.  Once the surfaces of the walls and ceilings are clean, you will need to repaint them.

Don’t forget to clean the windows.  When the sun hits the glass, it will emit a smell.  Wash the windows thoroughly with a 50/50 soapy warm water/vinegar mixture.  This solution can be used on other surfaces as well.


Professionals painters recommend using two coats of oil-based kilz on them.  Be sure to apply to doors and trim as well.  When applying paint to the surfaces, they recommend you add ionic paint additive.  2“the treated surfaces become a permanent air purification system. One treatment will continue to remain active for ten-twelve years, providing clean, healthy air for you and your family.”


When it comes to cleaning out the HVAC, we recommend a professional clean out the system.  The expense can run upwards to $12,000.00 depending on the size of the home.


If the property has hardwood floors, then they should be sanded and re-stained. Carpets and pads in the home will need to be removed. The sub floor will need to be treated as well.  Applying kilz to the sub floor can reduce the smoke smell from permeating new padding and carpet.  Tiles and linoleum can be cleaned with ammonia, but do not use TSP as it is too abrasive.

Increase home value

If you are looking to sell your home, you may want to consider remodeling to increase the value of your home.  3” More than half of the agents said buyers are “less likely” to purchase a home where people have smoked, with 27 percent firmly stating they think buyers would be “actually unwilling” to buy a smoker’s home. Out of those agents and brokers, two-thirds agreed that smoking in the home would reduce the value by 10 to 19 percent, with one in three saying the home’s value could be docked as much as 29 percent compared to a non-smoking home. For a $300,000 home, that’s $87,000 you could be missing out on.”  The time invested will not only save money but increase the traffic for the sale of your home.

Finally, removing toxic air and residue from your home is better for your health and the health of your family.  If CH can assist you with any of your remodeling needs, please contact us.




2 https:/