There are few smells that permeate our clothes as thoroughly as smoke. Whether we’ve been taking in a cool evening around a campfire or spent time hanging out in a smoky bar or restaurant, often we come away from these types of gatherings wondering how to get rid of a smoky smell from our favorite outfits.
Getting smoke smells out of clothes can be tough and time consuming to say the least. But fear not! Whatever the source of your smoke smell, in this article we’re going to take a deeper look at why smoke smell sticks to clothing and how to remove smoke smell once and for all.
Why Does Smoke Smell Stick on Clothes?
As items like wood or tobacco burn, the clouds of smoke they release contain sticky, carcinogenic residues like tar, ash, oil, and other chemicals that stick to whatever they come into contact with. Although the contents of different types of smoke may look different (thick black smoke versus white smoke) and smell different, the fact is that the molecular compounds within smoke are incredibly sticky and adhere to fabrics like clothing, upholstery, curtains, and carpet very quickly.
How to Remove Smoke Smells from Fabrics
Smoke smells can be stubborn and intrusive at best, or they can make us unable to be around or wear our favorite items of clothing at worst. However, these tried-and-true methods for removing smoke smells will have your garments smelling fresh as the day you brought them home! Of course, before undergoing any course of treatment for smoke smells in your laundry, you should always be sure to check care labels for proper washing instructions.
Add Baking Soda to Your Washer
Baking soda is one of the most versatile, all-purpose materials commonly found in most households. Since most smells are acidic in nature, baking soda’s natural ability to be a pH neutralizer makes it perfect for combatting even the toughest odors. For best results, add a cup of baking soda to your regular wash cycle to trap and neutralize smoke odors.
Use Scented Dryer Sheets
Scented dryer sheets are a great way to freshen up your clean laundry as it dries, combatting undue static cling and softening your fabrics in the process. Simply add a scented dryer sheet to your damp laundry in the dryer, then select the appropriate drying cycle. Be careful, though. If you’re not taking steps to neutralize or remove odors in the wash, your dryer sheets may be simply masking the existing odors instead of removing them altogether.
Use a Deodorizing Spray
Deodorizing sprays are great at removing tough smoke odors from clothes and even fabrics like curtains or carpets. Quality deodorizing sprays contain odor eliminating agents that bind to the individual molecules of odor and change their chemical structure. Once the structure has been changed, it can no longer bind to odor receptors in our nose, eliminating its smell. You can easily find whole-room deodorizers or sprays that can be used on individual fabrics like jackets or curtains that have a smoke smell on them.
There’s nothing that smells quite like laundry that’s been air dried on a clothesline in a gentle breeze. Not only does it impart them with pleasant scents, but it’s great for the environment, too. Machine dryers account for roughly 3% of all electricity usage in the U.S., which is equivalent to all the solar panels currently installed in America. Studies have shown that the best air-dry scents come from hang-drying clothing in the sun. The UV rays from the sunlight reacts with the water in the clothing, producing aromas of freshness that are relatively long-lasting.
Use a Fabric Softener
Fabric softeners are a fantastic, multipurpose laundry aid added to your wash cycle to do several things. Fabric softeners like Gain’s Super Fresh Blast are formulated to banish odors permanently while eliminating annoying static cling and making all your fabrics soft to the touch. These are a fantastic choice when looking for a tough, reliable odor fighter that will impart lasting freshness to your fabrics.
Use a Scent Booster
Laundry scent boosters, fragrance boosters, or booster pellets come in scented beads and are relatively new to the laundry scene. Dissolving quickly in water, scent boosters can be added to your wash cycle to dissolve and adhere to your fabrics, incorporating fresh scents and eliminating tough, nasty, smoky smells.
Use White Vinegar
White vinegar, like baking soda, is commonly found in most homes and is a wonderful way to fight smoke smells in clothes and other fabrics. Distilled white vinegar contains acetic acid, which works by neutralizing offensive odors. To use, simply pour a cup of white vinegar into the smelly laundry load’s wash cycle. You can also dilute in equal parts white vinegar and water, then put into a spray bottle. You can then use the spray bottle with white vinegar cleaning solution to spray on your clothes or other smelly fabrics, binding to smoke molecules and eliminating their scent.
Wash Clothes in Hot Water
While not all clothes can be washed in piping-hot water, the heat helps fabric fibers loosen up, allowing your cleaners better access to the smoky molecules so they can be neutralized and washed away. Care should be taken when washing garments in hot water to prevent damage or shrinking. Always consult your garment’s care label before adding them to hot water.
Frequently Asked Questions
What neutralizes the smell of smoke on clothes?
One of the best, most readily available odor fighters when it comes to smoke is baking soda. Simply adding a cup of this to the wash cycle of your machine will help remove the smell of cigarette, campfire, or even a house fire. You can also try using white vinegar, which contains acids that help trap and neutralize odors. Always consult the fabric care label for proper cleaning instructions.
How do you get the smell of smoke out of clothes without washing them?
To eliminate a smoky smell from clothing without washing, mix in equal parts distilled white vinegar and water, then pour into to a spray bottle. Spray on the offending item of clothing, then allow it to hang and dry in the air. If the smell persists, then repeat the process. Once you’re able, wash the garment as you normally would to fully remove any smoky odors that remain.
How long does it take to get the smoke smell out of clothes?
With the proper detergent and laundry aids in your laundry room, a simple wash cycle should be all you need to remove smoke smell from your clothes. If you’re unhappy with your laundry detergent, you can try adding a cup of baking soda or white vinegar to your laundry. Both of these work to boost your laundry routine, cutting through and eliminating smoke odors and even stains.