We all know that smoke smell sticks to clothes. You can smell it on any smoker or even anyone who’s been sitting by a campfire recently. Thirdhand smoke — the leftover contaminants that stick to clothes, skin, hair, and walls long after the cigarette is put out— clings to clothing, creates that unpleasant odor, and releases toxins into the air around it. Here’s how to get the smoke smell out of clothes.
Why Does Smoke Smell Stick to Clothes?
Smoke is created when particles burn, and the remnants turn into ash and smoke. These molecules of little burnt particles adhere to anything they touch, especially soft substances like clothing that absorb more of the molecules and, therefore, more of the odor.
Whether it’s smoke from a cigarette, smoke from a wood fire, or smoke from a portable propane fire pit, that smoky smell can really stick to the fibers of your clothes.
How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Clothes
Tools and Materials
While smoke smells can stubbornly stick to clothing, thankfully, some simple and inexpensive tricks can help you eliminate the odor without a pricey trip to the dry cleaners.
Estimated time to completion: 2 – 28 hours (including time to rest and soak)
- Put Baking Soda in A Bag
One of baking soda’s best uses is as an odor neutralizer, which makes it the perfect choice for getting smoke smells out of clothes. Add ½ cup to 1 cup (depending on the size of the garment and the size of the bag, but enough to thoroughly coat) to a large garbage bag or another similar container. Put the garment in the bag and shake vigorously until the garment is coated with baking soda.
- Let it Rest
Let the garment rest inside the bag with the baking soda, tied off or sealed, for up to 24 hours. A full day is ideal, but if you don’t have a full day, let the baking soda work for at least 2 hours. As it sits, the baking soda will absorb the smokey odors.
- Shake it Off
Brush off as much of the baking soda as possible. If you have one, this is a great time to use a garment brush, but if not, just brush off as much as you can with your hands and give it a good shake.
- Time for Vinegar
Once the baking soda is off, a white vinegar solution is the next step to eliminating the smoke smell. The easiest way to do this is to add ½ cup to 1 cup of white vinegar directly into the washing machine and run the cycle as usual. If you don’t have a washing machine, you can also soak the garment in vinegar and water for another hour or two.
By the end of the washing cycle, your clothes should be clean and back to smelling fresh. Hang to dry to allow clothing to air out and avoid setting those particles into the clothes in the dryer if they aren’t fully eliminated.
With proper soaking and treatment, the smell can be gone overnight. Without washing properly, the smell of cigarettes on clothing can linger for days, or even weeks, especially if the clothes are in a drawer or tucked away where they cannot air out.
White vinegar and baking soda are some of the best ingredients for neutralizing smoke smells. Several products on the market claim to eliminate the smell, but they’re often more expensive and formulated with harsh chemicals.
The smell will dissipate over time if someone isn’t adding to it. If someone continues to smoke in those clothes or on those walls, the particles will build up, and the smell will become less likely to disappear. If it doesn’t go away, though, you can try to recycle the fabric.How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Clothes