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Laundry How To

How to Remove Smoke Smell from Clothing: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’ve ever been out in the club and came home, only for your clothes to stink of clothes, this guide on how to remove smoke smell from clothing is just for you.

Even nowadays when many places don’t allow smoking indoors, somehow after a night out you still end up with your clothes smelling like a stale ashtray. And everyone can smell it. Especially non-smokers I HATE the smell of cigarette smoke)! Let’s be honest, the smell of smoke can be pretty offensive.

Removing the smoke odor from clothes can be pretty tricky as the smell can be stubborn and tough to get rid of, but there are a few ways to remove smoke odors from clothing, and with a little effort, you can have fresh-smelling garments once again.

I’ll take you through the best methods for removing smoke odor from clothing, from using natural ingredients to specialized products. Whether you’re dealing with just a hint of smoke or an overpowering, strong smell, I’ve got you covered.

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Why smoke stays on clothes

Have you ever noticed that the smell of smoke seems to stick to your clothes? It’s not just your imagination – smoke particles can easily cling to fabric and get trapped in the fibers. This can cause the smell to linger long after you’ve left the smoky environment.

One reason for this is that smoke particles contain chemicals like carbon monoxide and tar that are sticky and have a strong odor. When they come into contact with clothing, they can easily become trapped in the fabric.

It can be tricky to remove the smell of smoke from clothes, especially since the particles can be absorbed deep into the fibers of the fabric. This makes it harder to wash out with regular detergent.

What you’ll need to get smoke smell out of clothes

  • An airing rack or clothes line
  • Baking soda
  • Basin or plastic bag
  • Laundry detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Indoor fan (optional)
  • Odor eliminating spray (optional)

How to Remove Smoke Smell from Clothing

Step 1: Air it out

Clothes hanging on airing rack

As someone who has dealt with smoke smell on clothing before (many a night out dancing in my 20s!), I know how frustrating it can be. Airing out your clothes is definitely the first step you should take in getting rid of that stubborn smell.

To start, take your smoky clothes and hang them outside on a clothesline or hanger. If it’s a sunny day, even better! The UV rays from the sun can help break down the odor. Just be careful not to put the clothing in direct sunlight as it can fade darker colors.

If it’s not a sunny day, don’t worry. Just make sure the clothes are getting plenty of fresh air.

Leave your clothes outside for a few hours or even overnight if possible. The longer they can stay outside, the better chance you have of getting rid of the smoke smell. Just make sure to keep an eye on the weather!

If you don’t have access to an outdoor space, you can still air out your clothes indoors. Find a well-ventilated area, such as a room with open windows or a balcony. Hang your clothes up and let the fresh air do its job. You can even use a fan to help circulate the air and speed up the process.

Keep in mind that airing out your clothes may not completely eliminate the smoke smell, especially if it’s deeply embedded in the fabric. But it’s a great first step that can significantly reduce the odor and make the next steps in removing the smoke smell from clothing easier.

Step 2: Sprinkle baking soda

Baking soda

Airing out your clothes is a great first step, but sometimes it’s not enough to completely eliminate that stubborn smoke smell from clothes. That’s where baking soda comes in – it’s a great natural odor absorber and can help get rid of lingering odors.

After you’ve aired out your clothes, it’s time to sprinkle some baking soda on them.

Pop your clothes into a large container (like a basin or bucket) or into a plastic bag and sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda on top. Make sure to cover every inch of the clothing, especially the areas where the smoke smell is the strongest.

Let the baking soda sit on your clothes for a few hours, preferably overnight if you’re not in a hurry. This will give it enough time to absorb the odor. If you’re in a hurry, you can leave it on for as little as an hour, but the longer is always better.

Once the baking soda has done its job, just shake off the excess powder and we’ll move onto the next step.

Step 3: Wash your clothes

Woman putting clothes in the washing machine

Washing your clothes is the next important step in removing smoke smell. Once you’ve completed steps 1 and 2 above, it’s time to wash them either by hand or in the washing machine.

Read the label carefully make sure your clothes are in fact machine washable before choosing which method to use.

If you choose to wash them by hand, fill a sink or basin with warm water and add your regular laundry detergent. If it’s a detergent that specializes in getting rid of odors, all the better!

Mix it well and add your clothes, making sure to agitate them gently. Let them soak for a few minutes and then rinse them thoroughly with cool water.

If you’re using a washing machine, add laundry detergent and your clothes and start the wash cycle. If your clothes are heavily soiled, you may want to run them through an extra rinse cycle to ensure all the baking soda has been removed.

Step 4: Soak in vinegar

Clothes soaking in vinegar solution

If you’ve tried airing out your clothes, sprinkling them with baking soda, and washing them but the smoke smell is still lingering, it’s time to bring out the vinegar. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer and can be very effective at removing stubborn odors.

To start, fill a sink or basin with cool water and add one cup of vinegar. Mix it well and add your clothes, making sure they’re fully submerged. Let them soak in the water solution for at least an hour, but preferably overnight.

After the clothes have soaked, remove them from the sink and wring out any excess water. Wash them as usual (either by hand or in the washer).

Step 5: Dry your clothes

Woman putting clothes on a drying rack

It’s now time to dry your clothes. This step is important to ensure that any remaining moisture is removed and that your clothes are fresh and ready to wear again.

When it comes to drying your clothes, it’s best to avoid using a dryer, as the heat can set in any remaining odor. Instead, opt for air-drying your clothes by hanging them up on a clothesline or drying rack.

Choose a well-ventilated area, such as outside or near an open window, and hang your clothes up using hangers or on an airing rack. Make sure to space them out so that air can circulate around them and help them dry faster.

If you’re drying your clothes outside, be sure to bring them in before nightfall to avoid any dampness from overnight dew. If you’re drying them indoors, you may want to use a fan to help speed up the drying process.

Once your clothes are completely dry, give them a final sniff test to make sure the smoke smell is completely gone.

Step 6: Try an odor eliminating spray

Bottle of homemade fabric softener

If all else fails, try using an odor eliminating spray. These sprays are specifically designed to neutralize and eliminate odors, rather than just masking them.

To use an odor eliminating spray, simply hold the spray bottle about 6-8 inches away from your clothes and spray evenly. Make sure to focus on areas where the smoke smell is the strongest, such as the collar, cuffs, and armpits.

After spraying, let your clothes air-dry for a while.

It’s important to note that not all odor eliminating sprays are created equal, so be sure to read the label carefully and choose a product that’s safe for use on clothing. If you have any doubts, it’s always a good idea to test the spray on a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn’t damage or discolor your clothes.

By using an odor eliminating spray, you can give your clothes one final boost of freshness and ensure that any lingering smoky smell is completely eliminated.

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Now you’re armed with all the knowledge you need to banish that tough odor from your clothes once and for all! Whether it’s smoke from a bonfire, cigarette smell from a night out at a smoky bar, or just being too close to the grill at a barbecue, smoke smell can be a real nuisance. But with these simple and effective steps, you can get rid of that stubborn odor and keep your clothes smelling fresh and clean.

Remember, the key is to be patient and persistent. Sometimes it takes a few tries to completely eliminate smoke from clothing, but don’t give up. With a little bit of effort and the right techniques, you can restore your clothes to their original fresh and clean state.

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