How To Get Smoke Smell Out Of Fabric: A Complete Guide

Is your favorite shirt or pair of jeans reeking of cigarette smoke after a night out? Did you just buy a secondhand sofa that smells strongly of cigars? Lingering smoke odors in fabric can be annoying and difficult to remove.

Fortunately, with the right techniques and products, you can banish unwanted smoke smells from clothing, upholstery, and more.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: soak the fabric in a solution of white vinegar and water, let it air dry in the sun, then wash it normally. You can also use commercial odor removers designed for smoke smells.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll outline several methods for removing smoke smells from fabric using common household ingredients. We’ll also recommend some commercial products that work wonders on stubborn smoking odors.

With a little time and effort, you can get your fabrics fresh and smoke-free again.

Understanding Smoke Smells in Fabric

Smoke smells can be stubborn and difficult to eliminate from fabric. When smoke particles come into contact with fabric fibers, they can easily get trapped and leave behind an unpleasant odor. Understanding how smoke odors get trapped in fabric is the first step in effectively removing them.

How Smoke Odors Get Trapped in Fabric

When smoke is present in the air, it releases tiny particles and gases that can easily penetrate fabric fibers. These particles are so small that they can easily pass through the weave of most fabrics, making it difficult to remove the smoke smell.

As the smoke particles settle on the fabric, they can become embedded within the fibers, leading to a lingering odor.

Factors that Affect Smoke Smell Intensity

The intensity of the smoke smell in fabric can vary depending on several factors:

  • Type of Smoke: Different types of smoke, such as cigarette smoke, campfire smoke, or fire smoke, can have varying levels of intensity and different chemical compositions, which can affect how the smell lingers in fabric.
  • Length of Exposure: The longer fabric is exposed to smoke, the more the smoke particles can become embedded in the fibers, resulting in a stronger and more persistent smell.
  • Fabric Type: Some fabrics are more porous and absorbent than others, making it easier for smoke particles to penetrate and become trapped. Fabrics with a tighter weave or synthetic materials may be less prone to trapping smoke smells.
  • Environmental Conditions: Humidity and temperature can play a role in how long smoke smells linger in fabric. Higher humidity levels can make it harder for the smells to dissipate, while higher temperatures can cause the odors to become more noticeable.

Tackling Light vs Heavy Smoke Smells

The approach to removing smoke smells from fabric can vary depending on the intensity of the odor. Light smoke smells may be easier to eliminate with simple home remedies, such as airing out the fabric or using baking soda to absorb the smell.

However, heavy smoke smells may require more intensive methods, such as professional dry cleaning or using specialized odor-eliminating products.

It’s important to note that removing smoke smells from fabric may require multiple attempts or a combination of methods. Patience and persistence are key when dealing with stubborn smoke odors in fabric.

For more information on removing smoke smell from fabric, you can visit websites like The Spruce or Cleanipedia.

Removing Smoke with Household Ingredients

Removing smoke smell from fabric can be a challenging task, but with the right household ingredients, it can be done effectively. Here are some tried and tested methods to get rid of smoke odor using items you likely already have at home.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is a versatile ingredient that can help eliminate smoke smell from fabric. Fill a spray bottle with equal parts white vinegar and water, then lightly mist the affected fabric. Allow it to air dry, and the vinegar will neutralize the smoke odor.

For stubborn smells, you can also add a cup of white vinegar to your laundry load.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is another powerful ingredient that can absorb and neutralize odors, including smoke. Sprinkle baking soda over the fabric and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. Then, vacuum or shake off the baking soda. Repeat the process if necessary.

Baking soda can be used on various fabric items such as carpets, upholstery, and clothing.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an effective stain remover and can also help eliminate smoke smell. Mix a solution of 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 2 parts water. Dampen a cloth with the solution and gently dab the fabric.

Test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure it doesn’t cause any discoloration. After treating the fabric, rinse it with water and allow it to air dry.

Lemon Juice

Lemon juice is a natural deodorizer and can effectively remove smoke smell from fabric. Mix equal parts lemon juice and water, then apply the solution to the fabric using a spray bottle or cloth. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then rinse with water and let it air dry.

The citrus scent of lemon will leave the fabric smelling fresh.


Borax is a multipurpose cleaner that can help eliminate smoke odor from fabric. Dissolve half a cup of borax in a gallon of warm water, then soak the fabric in the solution for several hours. After soaking, wash the fabric as usual in the washing machine.

Borax can be used on various fabric items, including curtains, bedding, and upholstery.

Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a highly effective odor absorber and can be used to remove smoke smell from fabric. Place pieces of activated charcoal in a breathable bag, such as a sock or muslin cloth, and hang it near the smoky fabric. Leave it for a few days to allow the charcoal to absorb the odor.

Activated charcoal can be found in pet stores or online.

Remember, it may take multiple attempts and different methods to completely remove smoke smell from fabric. If the odor persists, consider seeking professional cleaning services or consulting with a fabric specialist for further assistance.

Commercial Smoke Odor Removers

When it comes to removing smoke smell from fabric, there are several commercial products available that can help. These products are specifically designed to eliminate stubborn smoke odors and leave your fabrics smelling fresh and clean.

In this section, we will explore three popular types of commercial smoke odor removers: liquid sprays and gel treatments, laundry detergent boosters, and ozone generators.

Liquid Sprays and Gel Treatments

Liquid sprays and gel treatments are commonly used to eliminate smoke odors from fabrics. These products work by neutralizing the odor molecules, rather than just masking them. They are easy to use and can be applied directly to the fabric or sprayed into the air to eliminate any lingering odors.

Some popular brands include Febreze Fabric Refresher and Ozium Air Sanitizer.

Laundry Detergent Boosters

If you are dealing with smoke smell on clothing or other washable fabrics, using a laundry detergent booster can be highly effective. These boosters are added to your regular detergent and help break down and remove tough odors, including smoke.

They can be used in both standard and high-efficiency washing machines. One popular option is the Odoban Odor Eliminator, which is specifically designed to tackle tough odors, including smoke, in laundry.

Ozone Generators

Ozone generators are powerful machines that can be used to remove smoke odors from fabrics and other surfaces. They work by producing ozone, which reacts with the smoke molecules and breaks them down. Ozone generators are typically used in larger spaces, such as homes or offices, and should be operated with caution, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

A well-known brand in this category is the Airthereal MA5000 Ozone Generator.

It’s important to note that while these commercial smoke odor removers can be highly effective, it’s always a good idea to test them on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric before applying them to the entire item.

Additionally, it’s always recommended to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the best results.

For more information on commercial smoke odor removers, you can visit websites like Febreze, Ozium, Odoban, and Airthereal.

General Tips for Removing Smoke Smell

Removing smoke smell from fabric can be a challenging task, but with the right techniques, it can be done effectively. Here are some general tips to help you get rid of that lingering smoke odor:

Wash Thoroughly After Treatment

One of the first steps in removing smoke smell from fabric is to wash the items thoroughly. Use a high-quality laundry detergent and add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. Vinegar is known for its odor-neutralizing properties and can help eliminate the smoke smell.

Additionally, consider using a fabric deodorizer or odor eliminator specifically designed for smoke odors.

Let Fabrics Air Out

After washing, it’s important to let your fabrics air out to further eliminate the smoke smell. Hang them outside on a clothesline or place them in a well-ventilated area. Fresh air can help dissipate the odor and leave your fabrics smelling fresh.

If possible, try to expose the fabrics to sunlight as well, as it can help kill any remaining odor-causing bacteria.

Use High Heat Drying

Using high heat in the drying process can also aid in removing smoke smell from fabric. The heat can help break down and evaporate the odor molecules. Make sure to follow the care instructions on your fabrics to avoid any damage.

If the fabric allows for it, consider adding a scented dryer sheet to give your fabrics a pleasant aroma.

Clean Surrounding Areas

While treating the fabric is essential, it’s equally important to clean the surrounding areas where the smoke odor may have permeated. Vacuum upholstery, carpets, and curtains thoroughly to remove any smoke particles.

Consider using a carpet cleaner or upholstery cleaner specifically formulated to combat smoke odor. Wiping down hard surfaces with a mixture of water and vinegar can also help eliminate the smell.

Remember, these general tips should be adapted to suit the type of fabric and the severity of the smoke odor. If the smoke smell persists, it may be necessary to seek professional help or consult with a dry cleaner who specializes in odor removal.

Preventing Smoke Smells in Fabric

Smoke smell can be stubborn and difficult to remove from fabric, but with some preventive measures, you can minimize the chances of your clothes or other fabric items absorbing smoke odor. Here are some tips to help you prevent smoke smells in fabric:

1. Store Clothing Separately

When storing your clothes, it’s important to keep them separate from areas where smoking occurs. Smoke particles can easily cling to fabrics, so storing your clothes in a separate closet or airtight containers can help prevent them from absorbing smoke smells.

This is especially important if you live with smokers or have recently moved into a previously smoked-in home.

2. Use Fabric Protectors

Fabric protectors, such as sprays or treatments, can create a barrier between the fabric and smoke particles, making it more difficult for the odor to penetrate the fibers. These protectors can be applied to clothing, upholstery, and other fabric items to help repel smoke smells.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the product and reapply as needed.

3. Designate Smoking Areas/Clothing

If you or someone in your household smokes, it’s a good idea to designate specific smoking areas and clothing. By confining smoking to certain areas, you can help contain the smoke odor and prevent it from spreading to other fabrics.

Additionally, having designated smoking clothing can help minimize the transfer of smoke smells to other garments.

By following these preventive measures, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of smoke smells lingering in your fabric items. However, if you do find yourself dealing with a smoke odor, there are effective methods for getting the smell out of fabric. Keep reading to learn more.


Smoke smells can be frustrating, but with the right approach, you can banish them from clothing, upholstery, carpets, and more. By understanding how smoke odors get trapped in fabrics, using the right household ingredients and commercial products, and taking preventative steps, you can keep your fabrics fresh and odor-free.

With some time, effort and the methods outlined here, you’ll be able to enjoy smoke-free fabrics once again.

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