Getting Rid of Smoke Odors on Your Clothes

Whether you have recently quit smoking, visited a relative’s home who smokes, or you visited a business where smoking is still allowed inside – you’re stuck with an outfit (or a bunch) of clothes that smell of cigarette smoke – and a simple wash doesn’t seem to be doing the trick to get it out. 

While it might seem impossible to get the cigarette smell out of your clothing, there are a few methods you can try before you chuck the clothing in the trash. 

Method One: Wash with Vinegar

Using vinegar in the wash can break up the smoke and tar molecules that cause the smell to linger in your clothes. To use vinegar in your wash, start by filling your washer with the hottest water you can (unless you’re dealing with fabrics that will clearly not be able to handle the heat) and add in 1 cup of white vinegar. For an extra boost, you can also add 1 cup of baking soda to the mix. Toss your clothes in and let them soak for at least 1 hour. 

If you can’t soak your clothing because you have a front-loader, then soak your clothes in a sink, bin, or bathtub. 

After soaking, add detergent and wash your clothing like normal. 

Method Two: Bag It Away

If you only have a shirt or 1 article of clothing that needs odor elimination, the bag method might make more sense. You can put this item in a ziplock bag, and add 1-2 dryer sheets as well as 1 tablespoon of baking soda. Keep it zipped up tight for a day or two, and check how it smells. The baking soda will absorb the bad smell, and the dryer sheet should replace it with a pleasant one. 

Once the smell is very faint or unnoticeable, wash the item like normal to remove the baking soda.

Method Three: Air Out 

Sometimes you might have too many clothes for these types of treatments to be worth your time and energy. If that’s the case, try hanging them outside to air out. The longer you can leave them out, the better your chances are of actually getting rid of the smell. 

You can speed up the process by spraying them with an odor eliminating spray first, and then hanging them outside.

Method Four: Professionals

If none of these tactics have worked, or you just have one nicer item that you want to get the smell out of, consider taking it to a professional cleaner. A professional cleaner has advanced chemicals that can remove all sorts of odors (and stains) from your clothing. While it may not be worth taking 1 t-shirt to a professional cleaner, if it is an item like a blazer, dress, or a suit that you have made an investment in, this might be the best option. 

Learning how to remove tough odors, such as smoke, from your own clothes will save you a lot of money down the line. Keep in mind that each of these tactics will work, but which one is right depends on the item of clothing, how many clothing items there are, and how much time you have to get the smell out. 

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