I live with two smokers, but I don’t smoke myself. Our laundy facilities are in our garage, which also happens to be where the smokers do a lot of their smoking during the winter months.
Though I try to get my clothes out of the dryer and up into the rest of the house (away from the smoke) in a timely manner, my clothes still end up smelling like smoke.
Other than forcing them to quit or go outside to smoke, what are some good ways to get the smoke smell out of clothes without re-washing them? Bonus points for the solution being scent free as I work in healthcare and powerful scents (including smoke) can trigger allergies, asthma etc. Thanks!
Since it sounds like everyone’s laundry has to be done down there, I don’t think it would be rude to ask the smokers to smoke elsewhere with better ventilation. Or at least turn on an air purifier. I would be very upset if my freshly laundered clothes smell like smoke when I don’t even smoke! I know you asked for suggestions other than asking them to move outside, but I think since they are inconveniencing others with their habit, I think they should have to smoke outside.
Not an ideal solution, but if there’s a smoke-free laundromat nearby, maybe you could use that. If they’re smoking where the laundry machines are, there’s no way that smell isn’t going to be on all the clothes.
You could also start buying unscented Febreeze in bulk. I’m one of those sensitive asthmatics that can’t stand smoke or fragrances. Some of the clothes I’ve gotten second hand I’ve had to machine wash and Febreeze twice in my very smoke-free home before I didn’t smell smoke on them anymore.
How to get cigarette smell out of clothes: VODKA!
Vodka diluted in water can become an odor-eliminating spray that helps to get smells out of clothes – I know a lot of people do this with more delicate vintage clothes that can’t be traditionally laundered or dry cleaned. YES! Vodka is a costume designer’s trick for keeping costumes smelling fresh even when they get worn 8x week without washing. Put some in a spray bottle and spray your clothes before letting the alcohol evaporate away. Do let them air out after, or else you smell like booze…
My first real job was working for a theater as the on-site wardrobe person to assist visiting shows with their costumes. The Russian ballet introduced me to the cheap vodka in a spray bottle trick. They did NOT dilute the vodka (I saw their wardrobe person pouring a bottle directly into the spray bottle).
Trust me when I say that if vodka works to deodorize the smells that a performer in a heavy costume under stage lights puts off, it will work on just about anything. Bonus, it doesn’t leave an odor behind once it dries like febreeze or other commercial sprays (aka, you won’t smell like an alcoholic).
This absolutely works! I don’t actually dilute the vodka, just dump a big bottle of the cheap stuff into a spray bottle and spritz it directly on the fabric in question. My friend has used it to get cigarette smell out of fabric, and I’ve used it to get BO smell, mustiness, and cat urine smell out of many fabrics. It works better than any commercial product I’ve ever used. And as a bonus, it evaporates relatively quickly, and leaves no residual odor (the alcohol smell goes away as it dries). For really tough odors, you can spray pretty liberally onto the fabric, let it sit for a few minutes, and then wash as usual.
How to get cigarette smell out of clothes: BAKING SODA
Another option for how to get cigarette smell out of clothes is a baking soda mixture.
- Dissolve about two tablespoons of baking soda in your spray bottle with really hot water.
- Once it cools you are good to go.
I use this like febreze – mostly for the couch defunking, BUT back when I lived with an ex who would marinate my car with smoke, this would get the smell almost completely out, and then if I used the distilled white vinegar spray with it, it was golden.
One caveat with the baking soda spray is that if you spray it on a non-fabric surface, you will then have to wipe little baking soda spray flecks up later.
How to get cigarette smell out of clothes: VINEGAR
I make our detergent at home and one of the ingredients is washing soda. It also has borax, Fels-Naptha laundry soap and Oxyclean. If something is stinky, I add 1 cup of vinegar to the load at the beginning. Takes out all kinds of reek, from cat urine to cigarette smoke.
How to get cigarette smell out of clothes: SUNLIGHT
I got some hand-me-down clothes that reeked of smoke a couple years ago and I tried so many things. What finally worked was sunlight. Seriously. I laundered the clothes and hung them outside in the sunshine on a hot and bright day to dry in the fresh air. Nearly no smell left.
How to get cigarette smell out of clothes: PROFESSIONAL CLEANERS
Check out Pure Ayre. Yes, it is a cat pee cleaner, but it works great for smoke odors as well. When a friend of mine quit smoking, she sprayed it on all of her clothes to get the smell out.
It’s natural, biodegradable, and no harmful chemicals or artificial fragrances so should be okay for your workplace (they do use peppermint oil, but the scent fades almost immediately), plus it’s food grade so you can use it as mouth wash in a pinch. You can get it on Amazon, or try a local pet store or natural market.
As a side note, whatever method you try, I would definitely do a test spot in an inconspicuous place on more delicate fabrics or favorite clothing items. Read your care label closely!
Alternately, there’s a product called Odorzout. We found this review that provides some great guidance:
I buy clothes from eBay… I’ve saved many garments from unwearable smoker smells this way, and cigarette reek is seriously hard to remove. I’m allergic to tobacco, so ebay clothes from a smoker would be total garbage without Odorzout.
Odorzout is a sort of mineral. It comes out of the canister as a finely ground white powder with a texture more like Ajax or Comet than like flour or sugar. It isn’t messy and doesn’t leave any residue. It doesn’t have any undesirable after effects that I have noticed, except, that, if you use it as liberally as I’ve suggested, you’ll also want to run it through a drier on fluff cycle until powder stops sifting out of it.
Important: If something has a really, really hard to remove odor, like clothes that previously belonged to a smoker, then soak it. The instructions say to add a few tablespoons to the washer, but that doesn’t usually cut it. I dampened the garment, put it in a plastic wash tub, sprinkled it liberally with Odorzout, and rubbed the powder in. Then I added just enough water to submerge the garment, and let it soak overnight. For one severely smoked shirt, I did this twice. Rinse thoroughly, then wash to be sure the powder is removed.
It’s not really a way to get the smell out of clothing that already smells like smoke, but to solve the problem for future laundry: Buy a good air purifier with a HEPA filters and use it right by the washer/dryer. (If you can get your roommates to turn it on while they smoke would be great, but at the very least, run it while you’re doing laundry).