How do I remove the smell of smoke from my clothes?

How do I remove the smell of smoke from my clothes?
Photo credits: Credit to Freepik

The smell of smoke in clothes is unpleasant for many people. Whether you’ve been around a campfire, cooked on a barbecue, or lived with a smoker, the smell of smoke sticks to your clothes and can be annoying for a long time.

Fortunately, there are various ways to remove it effectively, from simple home remedies to professional help.  

Ventilate clothing

The first step in removing smoke odor is to air out your clothes as soon as possible. Hang them outside or in a well-ventilated room away from direct sunlight to prevent fading. Fresh air and the breeze can do wonders to dispel the smell.

Also, shake the clothes vigorously to remove scattered ash or other particles. Use a soft brush to wipe off any remaining residue gently. This will make the subsequent cleaning process more effective. 

Odor removers


Vinegar is a natural deodorizer that can be very effective in removing the smell of smoke. Fill a bowl with warm water and add one cup of white vinegar. Soak your clothes for at least 30 minutes, then wash them as usual. If the smell persists, you may need to repeat the process.

Baking soda

Baking soda is another good household remedy. Add a cup of baking soda to your washing powder and wash your clothes as usual. If the smell is more potent, you can also make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it directly to the most affected areas before washing.

Activated carbon

Surprising as it may seem, activated carbon has excellent odor-absorbing properties. Place your smoke-smelling clothes in a large sealed plastic bag with a few activated carbon briquettes, close it tightly, and leave it to sit for a couple of days. Then remove the clothes and wash them.

Specialized laundry products

There are unique products for removing strong odors that you can find online or in larger stores. Follow the instructions on the packaging for the best results.

Washing Tips

Hot water

Hot water is usually more effective at removing odors, but check the labels on your clothes to ensure they can withstand high temperatures.

Multiple washing cycles

If odors persist, you may need to wash your clothes in several cycles. An extra rinse cycle can also help remove lingering odors.

Use the ‘disinfect’ or ‘deep clean’ if your washing machine has more settings. These options are designed to remove tough stains and odors.

Chemical cleaning

Some garments, such as suits and special fabrics, may require professional dry cleaning. Please inform the dry cleaners about the smell of fumes so they can remove it with special products.

Preventive measures, short-term measures, and other alternatives

Proper storage of clothing

To prevent the smell of smoke from getting into your clothes at all, keep them in a cool, dry place away from any sources of smoke. If you smoke, an alternative to cigarettes is Ploom heated tobacco, which has virtually no smoke odor.

Fabric fresheners

Spray-on fabric fresheners can be a temporary solution to mask odors until you can wash your clothes properly. However, they are not a substitute for washing and cleaning.

Odour neutralizing sprays

Spray sprays are specifically designed to neutralize odors, including smoke. They can be handy for clothes that are not easily washed, such as coats or hats. Spray the garment according to the instructions on the bottle and let it dry. Although this method may not eliminate the smell, it will reduce it significantly.

Steam cleaning

Steam cleaning is another effective method for heavier or softer fabrics that cannot be machine-washed. Steam penetrates the fibers and helps to break down the particles that cause smoke odor – a hand-held steam cleaner will do the job. Always test a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure the fabric can withstand the steam.

Essential oils

Some people prefer to use natural ways to combat unpleasant odors. Essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree have natural deodorizing properties. 

Add a few drops to a spray bottle filled with water and lightly spray your clothes. Allow clothes to dry completely before wearing or storing them. This method can benefit garments that are not heavily affected and only need a quick refresh.

Sun rays

Wearing clothes outdoors and in the sunlight can also be a great way to reduce smoke odors. Ultraviolet sunlight can help kill bacteria and remove odors, but be careful with colored fabrics as they can fade if left in the sun for long periods.

Vacuum cleaner

Use a vacuum cleaner with an upholstery attachment for garments that cannot be easily washed, such as jackets or coats. Suction can help remove odor-causing smoke particles. For better results, sprinkle baking soda on the garment, leave it for a few minutes, and vacuum.

Ozone generators

Ozone generators are devices that can remove various odors, including smoke. They work by releasing ozone, a molecule that reacts with odors and neutralizes them. However, remember that ozone can harm both humans and pets, so it is essential to follow all safety instructions and guidelines when using an ozone generator.

Professional help 

If you’ve tried several methods and still can’t get rid of the smell of smoke, it may be time to seek professional help. Some specialist cleaners have the experience and equipment to remove lingering odors effectively. 

The smell of smoke in clothes can be bothersome and challenging to remove, but by taking action quickly and choosing the proper cleaning procedure, you can eliminate it.

Remember, whether you choose home remedies, specialized products, or professional services, the most important thing is to act quickly and thoroughly. We hope that these tips have helped you better understand the different cleaning methods and how they work and that they will help you choose the one that best suits your specific needs.

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