How to Clean Cigarette Smoke Off of Photographs

Smoking inside of your home for a prolonged period of time will cause the cigarette smoke to settle on all of your exposed possessions, including your photographs. Cigarette smoke causes unsightly residue stains to build up on the surface of photographs, and it may also cause your pictures to have an unpleasant odor. Cigarette smoke residue will cause the the surface of your photos to look dull and cloudy, rather than glossy and clear. Prolonged exposure to cigarette smoke may even cause discoloration of your photos. While it is impossible to reverse any discoloration caused on the surface of your photographs caused by smoke, you can easily clean smoke residue off of the pictures to restore them.

To clean cigarette smoke off of photographs you will need:

Clean cotton cloth
White vinegar
Cotton balls

1. Lay the photograph down face-up on a clean, flat work surface. Wipe the surface of the photograph with a clean cotton cloth to remove any dust or debris on top of the smoke residue.

2. Dampen a cotton ball with a small amount of white vinegar. Wipe the surface of the photograph with the cotton ball. White vinegar neutralizes smoke odor and breaks up smoke particles, so the vinegar will help eliminate both the smell and the cloudy appearance on the surface of the picture. The vinegar should not harm or discolor the photograph. Flip the photograph over and wipe down the back to remove any odor clinging to the back of the picture.

3. Place the photograph inside of the bowl, and place the bowl in your kitchen sink. Turn the water on cold and allow the water to run over the photograph for a few minutes as a slow, steady stream. Soaking your photograph in water will not harm it as photos are run under water during the developing process to remove chemicals.

4. Remove the photograph from the water and hang it up to dry. Allow the photo to dry thoroughly.

5. Inspect the photograph and look for any areas that still look cloudy from residue. If any exist, repeat steps two through four until the picture has been restored to its original clarity and shine.

Keep in mind that immediately reintroducing the photograph to cigarette smoke will just cause the residue and odor to build up again. To prevent your photographs from becoming permanently discolored or damaged from smoke exposure, it is best to refrain from smoking in your home, especially if it poorly ventilated.

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