How to Remove Nicotine Cigarette Stains From Carpet

spot cleaning a rug stained with nicotine

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 hrs
  • Total Time: 12 hrs - 1 day
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $10 to 25

Smoking can leave lingering yellow stains and strong odors in carpets and upholstery.

 Stain Type Smoke 
 Detergent Type Heavy-duty
 Water Temperature Varies depending on the type of fabric
 Cycle Type Varies depending on the type of fabric

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Large jar with lid
  • White cloth or paper towel


  • Glycerin
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar


How to Remove Nicotine Stains From Carpet and Upholstery

If you have a regular smoker in the house, a film of nicotine and tar will settle over your carpet and upholstery. Regular cleaning of the entire surface of the carpet or furniture is the only way to lift the stains. Use a professional cleaning service or rent a carpet/upholstery cleaning machine at least twice per year.

Before cleaning any furniture, always follow the manufacturer's care label on cleaning upholstery. This tag can be found under the sofa cushions or fabric skirt with letter codes that indicate how to clean the furniture.

For an occasional tobacco stain from a guest, make the same spot cleaner used for polyester clothes.

  1. Mix the Cleaning Solution

    Combine 1 part glycerin, 1 part white dishwashing detergent, and 8 parts water in a large jar. Add 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar to help control odor and mix well before using to spot treat the stain.

    Label and keep tightly closed to prevent evaporation, until ready to use.


    If cleaning a tobacco stain on upholstery, do not over-saturate the fabric. If the upholstery is silk or vintage, hire a professional.

    Mixing a cleaning solution to remove nicotine odor from carpet

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Blot the Stain

    Use a clean white cloth or paper towel to work from the outside edges of the stain toward the center.

    Keep blotting until no stain is transferred to the cloth.

  3. Let Sit

    Allow to air dry away from direct heat. Repeat if necessary.

Additional Tips for Handling Nicotine Stains

An occasional accident happens where the carpet or upholstery gets burned by a cigarette or cigar. Follow these steps to take care of them.

For burn marks on the carpet:

  • Use some very small scissors to trim away burned fibers.
  • Dab the area with distilled white vinegar or remove scorch marks and odor.

For burn marks on upholstery:

  • Rub the area gently with an emery board. If the burn is deep, it is permanent.