How To Get Smoke Smell Out Of Clothes
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How To Get Smoke Smell Out Of Clothes

Smoke Barbecue
Smoke smell can stick to your clothes for quite a long time and make you and others feel annoyed.

“How to get smoke smell out of clothes?” You might ask yourself sometimes, especially if you’re sensitive to smell and can’t handle a bit of foul odor, for example, smoke smell.

The smell of smoke is easy to get on your clothes if you just stand near a person smoking in the bar or accidentally burn a batch of cookies in the oven.

Same thing when you’re participating in a campfire night, outdoor BBQs, or unfortunately have experienced a house fire; you probably want to find a way to get rid of this unpleasant smell as soon as possible.

Washing as usual may not get rid of the smoke smell completely, so in this article, I will mention some simple but effective methods that you can apply and be successful.

The first and foremost tip I have for you is that you should deal with it immediately instead of leaving your clothes to stay for a few days in the corner of your house.

So, wait no more. Read on to equip yourself with valuable tricks now!

Check The Label And Categorize Your Clothes

Before washing, let’s spend a few minutes checking the care label. This might tell you a lot of necessary information about the clothes you’re going to handle.

At first, it could be a bit confusing because there might be many symbols and instructions which you aren’t familiar with.

Don’t worry; first you just need to find out if they’re allowed to wash or not. (1) In this case, you will see a washing symbol with a big X on it, which means you can’t wash both by hand and by washing machine.

If the care label states “dry clean only,” it also means your clothes are not suitable for washing.

Second, you continue to look for a guide for drying. You might see some symbols such as “tumble-dry,” “not tumble-dry,” and “natural drying”. Based on these facts, you can choose the cleaning method accordingly.

After gathering all the information, I suggest you start dividing your clothes into different piles so that you can efficiently deal with them.

Label Clothes
Check the care label before cleaning your clothes.

Let’s take care of your clothes in the right way with these symbols.

Watch this video: Fabric Care Symbols

9 Easy Methods to Remove Smoke Smell From Clothes Without Washing Them

Your favorite clothes are unwashable? Don’t fret because there are numerous ways to help deodorize fabric and restore your items with ease.

1. Hang Them Under The Sun

Let’s simply hang them out in the sun for a while, and you will notice the smoke smell will surely disappear completely. It’s the most straightforward and natural method you’ve ever known.

Sunlight is known to be able to kill all scents and odors from strong laundry smells, urine, mildew, smoke, and more.

It would be best if you could bring them outside between 10 a.m to 4 p.m; because it’s when the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UV) are the most powerful. (2)

What’ll You Need:

  • A well-ventilated, full of sunlight drying area


Step 1: Hang clothes in the direct sunlight.

Step 2: If it’s in summer, they take only about 3 hours to refresh, but under winter sunlight, they might need to be outside for 6 hours to get the ultimate result. Bear in mind that you should keep dark color clothes in the shade because sunlight can discolor dyed items.

Dry Clothes Sunlight
Drying clothes under sunlight is a natural way to get rid of unwanted odors.

2. Air Out The Clothes

It would be helpful if you could bring your clothes outside; however, if this is not possible, you can hang them in the most ventilated room in the house.

Some people also use electric fans to increase airflows and make the smell go away as soon as possible.

What’ll You Need:

  • A well-ventilated room or balcony
  • Odor-neutralizing plants
  • Electric fans


Step 1: Hang clothes in the open air if possible. If not, hang them inside the house. Choose a well-ventilated room or balcony.

Step 2: Gather all odor-neutralizing plants to help absorb unwanted smells.

Step 3: Turn on fans to air out the clothes. Allow clothes to stay for several hours or more.

3. Try Ozone Generator

Have you ever heard about the ozone generator machine? This product definitely supports the odor removal process as long as you learn how to use it properly.

If you have a ton of smoky clothes, you can spend a whole room or a whole wardrobe to deal with them.

What’ll You Need:

  • An ozone generator
  • A small room or a wardrobe
  • A fan


Step 1: Hang all your garments inside a small room or a wardrobe.

Step 2: Turn on the ozone generator and turn on the fan.

Step 3: Close the door and let your clothes sit for a few hours or a couple of days if necessary.

4. “Kill” Smell With Activated Charcoal Powder

As you might not know, activated charcoal powder is super good at removing odor. Once put close to the garments, it will quickly absorb the odor coming from them.

Different from other techniques, which mainly cover the smell, activated charcoal powder literally eliminates them permanently.

To illustrate, you can imagine activated charcoal powder containing a hundred pores and pockets which trap smells like a vacuum cleaner hunting for dust.

What’ll You Need

  • Activated charcoal powder
  • Small bags


Step 1: Pack activated charcoal powder in several small bags.

Step 2: Hang them in your closet or place them between layers of affected clothes.

Activated Charcoal Powder
Activated charcoal powder can be a great smell removal option you can trust.

5. Let’s Try Dryer Sheets!

Dryer sheets or fabric softener sheets are designed to add scents, reduce static and enhance the softness of clothes. Dry sheets are proven to absorb smells and water.

Besides laundry, there are so many ways you can use them around your house, such as picking up pet hair, removing sticky stuff, freshening air, keeping bugs away, and sharpening scissors.

Additionally, it can be used to eliminate unpleasant odors from clothes, shoes, gym bags, and more.

What You’ll Need

  • Large plastic bags (The number depends on the number of clothes)
  • Dryer sheets


Step 1: Put the clothes in the bag.

Step 2: Add a dryer sheet to the bag. For every 1-2 items, use 1 dryer sheet to maximize the result.

Step 3: Close the bag carefully and make sure it’s completely sealed. Repeat with other items

Step 4: Check daily to see if they’re odor-free and change dry sheets if necessary.

Dry Sheets
Beside laundry, dry sheets are extremely useful around your house!

6. Baking Soda Is Always A Good Idea!

Baking soda is a highly versatile household staple that everyone should keep at least 1 box at home. Owing to its highly alkaline level, baking soda is totally a rockstar when it comes to cleaning stuff and neutralizing offending smells.

What You’ll Need

  • Baking soda
  • A large plastic container or a large plastic bag


Step 1: Put your clothes in a large plastic container or a large plastic bag.

Step 2: Add ½ cup of baking soda, close the lid or seal the bag tightly.

Step 3: Shake it well so that all your clothes are soaked in baking soda.

Step 4: If you’re not in a hurry, let it sit overnight.

Step 5: After the smoke smell disappears, dust your clothes off this white powder.

Baking Soda Sponge
Baking soda can remove unpleasant odors from your garments.

7. Steam Away Smoke Smell!

Steam cleaning is a powerful yet non-abrasive cleaning method that is widely used when you can’t wash clothes.

Before deciding to steam clean your items, you also need to check the care label once again to confirm that they’re allowed to do so.For example, if you steam plastic-based synthetics, waxed jackets, leather, suede, cashmere, silk, and other delicates, you run a risk of ruining them.

To play it safe, you can start with a small area before running it over the entire garment.

What You’ll Need

  • A steam cleaner or an iron with a steaming option


Step 1: Hang your clothes vertically or let them lay flat

Step 2: Fill the steamer or iron with distilled water. To ensure the result, you can use 3 parts of distilled water and 1 part of rubbing alcohol instead.

Step 3: Hold the steaming nozzle at least 6 inches away from your items with a steam cleaner. For iron, do as usual. You can use a steam button to release a burst of steam for an extra odor removal effect.

Step 4: Keep steaming at 1 area for about 1 minute to make sure the odor is eliminated permanently.

Step 5: Let them dry naturally.

Steam Cleaning
Steam cleaning is a quick and simple method to freshen up garments.

Find out how to steam your clothes the right way! You can see this video to know more:

Watch this video: How to Steam Your Clothes

8. Make DIY Fabric Deodorizer Spray

You can find fabric deodorizer spray in the supermarket or try to make it at home. Either way, it works magically to banish smoke smells from clothes.

In my experience, making your own odor-eliminating spray is quite simple and can save you some extra bucks. This DIY formula will guarantee to remove stinky odors and bring a fresh and clean feel to your clothes.

What You’ll Need

  • A glass spray bottle
  • 20 drops of essential oils
  • Vinegar
  • Water


Step 1: Blend vinegar with water in 1:1 ratio in a spray bottle.

Step 2: Add essential oils.

Step 3: Mix well and spritz it on the clothes.

9. Mask The Odor With Essential Oils

If you’re tight in schedule and want to cover smoky clothes as quickly as possible, I suggest you give essential oils or perfumes a chance.

Although they don’t “kill” the smell, they can mask it to some degree so that others might not notice.

To get the best result, you should opt for bergamot, citrus fruits (orange, lemon), lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, grapefruit aroma.

What You’ll Need

  • Essential oils of your choice


Step 1: Spray essential oils directly into your clothes. Don’t try to dilute them if not necessary.

Step 2: Put on your clothes as nothing happens.

Essential Oils
Essential oils are available in various scents so you can easily choose your favorite one.

7 Ways To Refresh Smoke-Smelling Clothes With a Washing Machine

Everything seems to be easy as pie when your clothes can go straight to the washing machine. However, there might be some tips and tricks which you can apply with your usual washing routine to create the expected result: odor-free clothes.

1. Wash With Hot Water

People often notice that when they choose to wash with hot water, their clothes often come out fresher and cleaner. It’s also an effective washing method to save extra detergent without affecting washing quality.

Hot water can enhance the chemical reaction of detergent and make it work best to attack dirt as well as odor.

Before washing with hot water, it’s important to note that depending on the garment’s delicacy level; you can choose the proper degrees of the water so that you don’t ruin your clothes.

All the information is included in the care label, which you should refer to one more time. Hot water is normally about 60 or 90 degrees Celsius.

It’s highly recommended that you separate clothes with a white, light color from dark ones to avoid color bleeding between clothes.

What You’ll Need

  • A washing machine with a hot water option


Step 1: Toss your smoky items into the washing machine.

Step 2: Choose water options and start washing.

Washing Machine
Washing machines can be a great supporter in removing odors from clothes.

2. Top-Notch Vinegar Solution

Vinegar is capable of cutting through stinky, unpleasant smells effectively. As known as a low pH substance, vinegar can fight against higher pH smoke molecules and disable them quickly.

You can use vinegar in two ways: a pre-soak solution or an add-on to the washing cycle. Either way, it can be a top choice in terms of removing the unpleasant odor.

Pre-Soak Vinegar

What You’ll Need
  • A cup of vinegar
  • Essential oils
  • Warm water
  • A bucket

Step 1: Add vinegar, a few drops of essential oil to a bucket of warm water and mix well.

Step 2: Immerse your items into the bucket and swirl gently. Let it stay for 1 hour.

Step 3: Transfer them to the washing machine and wash as instructed by the garment manufacturer.

Wash Your Clothes With Vinegar

What You’ll Need
  • Vinegar
  • A washing machine

Step 1: Add vinegar directly to the washing machine as a replacement for laundry detergent.

Step 2: Wash as usual.

Step 3: Hang clothes outside in a bright and well-ventilated area so that they can dry naturally.

Wash Clothes Vinegar
Wash your clothes with vinegar to eliminate odors.

3. Simple Yet Effective Lemon Juice Odor Removal

If you’re a big fan of natural homemade cleaning remedies, you might have a lot of lemons in your fridge because this acidic fruit can do more than just provide you with a cup of lemonade.

It’s known for its ability to clean as a natural bleach which helps tackle stains as well as combat nasty odors.

What You’ll Need

  • ½ cup of lemon juice


Step 1: After placing your clothes in the washing machine, add lemon juice.

Step 2: Start the washing machine and wash as normal.

Lemon Juice
Lemon juice is a natural bleach and odor remover.

4. Experiment With A Bio-Enzymatic Treatment Product

So, what is a bio-enzymatic treatment product? Simply put, this product contains “good” bacteria which digest soils and nasty odors from the fabric. To do so, bacteria produce different enzymes to break down different organic substances’ molecules into smaller pieces.

The best part? A bio-enzymatic treatment product can penetrate deeply into tiny cracks and eradicate soils and stinky odors that other chemical cleaning solutions can’t do.

What You’ll Need

  • A bio-enzymatic treatment product


Step 1: Spray all over the garment and allow 10-15 minutes to work.

Step 2: For extra cleaning power, you can use it in a place of washing detergent and wash as usual.

5. Vodka Is For Cleaning, Not Drinking

Do you know that alcohol can be used to remove odor instead of drinking? Let’s experiment with me by preparing vodka or rubbing alcohol.

If you’re ready, let’s follow the step-by-step guide below:

What You’ll Need

  • Vodka or rubbing alcohol


Step 1: Add vodka or rubbing alcohol into the washing machine together with washing detergent.

Step 2: Start the washing machine and wash normally.

The result is amazing! Clothes become fresh and clean with ease. You can try this method and tell me how you feel.

Vodka Cleaning
Vodka can be used for effective cleaning.

Want to know vodka cleaning hacks? Wait no more! Here are some!

Watch this video: How to Use Vodka on Your Clothes

6. Give Fabric A Flavor Boost With Laundry Scent Boosters

Instead of removing bad odors, you can make your clothes smell nice again by using laundry scent boosters. You can wash smoky garments with a washing detergent, fabric softener, and laundry scent booster altogether.

There are many brands of laundry scent boosters you can find in the supermarket. Some people like to create their own formula so that they can add their favorite scents to clothes.

Here’s a quick guide to produce a laundry scent booster at the comfort of your house and use it to remove nasty smells:

What You’ll Need

  • 1 cup of baking soda.
  • 1 1/2 cups of Epsom salt
  • 20-30 drops of essential oils
  • A bowl


Step 1: In a bowl, mix Epsom salt with essential oils until they combine well and get the desired aroma

Step 2: Add baking soda to the mixing bowl and continue stirring. The result is your laundry scent booster.

Step 3: Add 1 tablespoon of this homemade laundry scent booster to the fabric softener drawer of your washing machine.

Scented Beads
Laundry scent booster beads are very popular and you can buy them in the supermarket.

7. Try Horse-Blanket Detergent

Yes, you heard me right. I suggest you use a product which is designed for removing odors from horse blankets and also is safe for human garments.

If the washing detergent you are using is not helping to remove the smell, consider this cleaning method.

What You’ll Need

  • A horse-blanket detergent


Step 1: Add horse-blanket detergent to the washing machine.

Step 2: Wash clothes as usual.


If you have any questions related to smoky clothes, feel free to ask here so that you and I can discuss more. Below are some popularly-asked ones you can consult before applying any above method:

What’s a Method to Get Smoke Smell Out of Clothes After a House Fire?

The simplest and quickest way to remove smoke smells from clothes after a house fire is to soak them in baking soda. However, if you have to handle many of them, you can divide them into piles and toss them into a washing machine with a hot water option.

How Long Does It Take for Smoke Smell to Leave Clothes?

You can simply leave clothes outside and let them air out for a day or more. It’s said that you can even keep them this way for about a few days to make sure your clothes become odor-free.

How to Freshen Smoky Jackets Without Washing?

I guess the most natural method is to let the sun do its job! Hang them outside in a ventilated area, and everything’s done.

How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Thrifted Clothes?

For fans of thrift clothes, I suggest you keep a bag of baking soda at home because it’s an affordable yet effective way to banish smoke smells from clothes. Just put your clothes into a plastic bag with baking soda. Zip the bag, shake the contents well, and wait for a day or two.

What Cancels Out the Smell of Smoke?

Vinegar or activated charcoal could be the best ways to neutralize the smoke smell which are easily accessible around your house or in the nearest grocery store.

What Detergent Removes Smoke Smell?

Heavy-duty laundry detergents or bio enzymatic laundry detergents can be helpful in this case. With the right detergent, you don’t need to add extra odor-neutralizing substances anymore.

Does Vinegar Get Rid of Cigarette Smell?

Spraying vinegar all over smoky garments can be an effective method to neutralize cigarette smell which you can try on your clothes as soon as possible.

Bye Bye Smoke Smells

No one can tolerate smoke smells. Not to mention, they aren’t good for your health, especially smells from cigarettes.

So, there’s no reason to live with it when you can say goodbye to it straightforwardly and quickly using all the familiar household staples you might already have in your house. Right?

Above are some methods you can easily refer to when you encounter smoke smell troubles. I have tried most of them and got results beyond my expectation.

How about you? What’s your favorite cleaning method? Would you mind sharing with me your thoughts? I’d like to discuss further with you about this exciting topic.

Drop some lines in the comment section below so that I can reach you as soon as possible!

How To Get Smoke Smell Out Of Clothes


[1] 2021. Laundry symbol – Wikipedia.

[2] US EPA. 2021. Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation and Sun Exposure | US EPA.

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Kevin Jones

Kevin Jones

Home Cleaning Specialist

Expertise: In-depth Knowledge of Cleaning Agents and Their Uses, Advanced Home Sanitization, Techniques Expertise in Cleaning and Maintaining, Various Floor Types, Innovations in Home Cleaning Tools

School: American College of Home Economics

Kevin Jones is a seasoned home cleaning specialist with over a decade of experience in the industry. A stickler for cleanliness and organization, Kevin brings a systematic and innovative approach to home maintenance. His expertise ranges from traditional methods to modern cleaning technology, ensuring homes are not just clean but healthy environments too.

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