Cigarette smell in clothes... Help Please!

peanutmomSeptember 24, 2009

Okay, I am getting desperate. I was given several garbage bags of clothes for my daughter. They are very nice, mostly stain free and clothes I would normally wear anyway. The PROBLEM is that they smell like the little girl who wore them smoked like crazy. I can guess it wasn't the little girl although I feel bad for the condition of her lungs living in a house that smells that strongly of smoke. I really need a way of getting rid of the smell. I don't want my daughter to run around smelling of smoke when we don't and don't allow it in our home. I hate to throw the clothes away or give them to someone who perhaps has a less sensitive nose or doesn't mind the smoke smell. We can really use them. I have washed them in Oxiclean, detergent, vinegar, borax and used fab softner. Not all at once, but in various combinations. I may be able to bleach the white stuff, but there are many nice pairs of jeans and other clothes I hate to get rid of. Please help!

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Are you sure these clothes smell from smoking and not a house fire. The smell of smoke from smoking usually doesn't linger like that after washing.

Did you try washing and hanging them outside to dry. Add some baking soda to the wash cycle. The wind sun and fresh air should take care of any smell,unless these clothes were in a house fire. That smell is often impossible to get rid of.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 11:19PM
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I lived in a house that had been damaged by a fire when I was in my teens and later lived in a mobile home that had been damaged by a fire. I am pretty sure it is cigarette smoke. I have friends who smoke and a daughter who unfortunately smokes so I think I got the smells right. I will try the baking soda and see if it does it. I also had the thought of hanging them outside, but they smelled so strong when I took them out of the washer (and it was raining off and on all day yesterday) I hated to dry them that way. They have been washed a couple of times and it seems to be worst at the seams and in the really thick clothes, like heavy jeans. I put them back in for a soak cycle (I have a front loader). I hate to say it, but I almost wish the smell had been wood smoke. I don't mind it as much. Maybe part of the problem is that I am sensitive to cigarette smoke (allergies) and therefore notice it more. I will give it a try. I have at least three more loads to do. I will try making the loads smaller. Maybe with less clothes the washer can clean them better. I haven't overloaded, but it can't hurt. Most of my clothes come out clean and smelling great. Oh, well. Can't win 'em all. At least not in the first battle. LOL.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 7:51AM
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Yes, cigarette odor is easily identifiable to those of us who have been around it and hate it. Unfortunately, synthetic fabrics seem to be able to take on an odor that just doesn't go away. You may have to "sniff-test" individual pieces to see which ones release the odor and which don't.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 9:08AM
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I agree with graywings, synthetic fabrics will hold an odor and sometimes never let it go. I had some old blankets that I was using for my outside pets and one got urine in it and I didn't get to it right of way because it had fallen behind a shelf. Well, I tried and tried, even bleach and the smell would not come out. I had to throw it away.

I would try Tide, which is a very strong detergent and the hottest water possible, with a vinegar rinse.

You could also try that detergent they sell for baby laundry. Ivory Snow or Dreft I think they are.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 3:05AM
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If the smell is in the clothes, it's because soem of the smoke or urine is still in the cloth. Wash it out and the smell will be gone.
In my experience it's natural fibers like wool fur, leather and silk that hang on to the odors worst.
I received a hand made knitted gift from a friend....and I sprayed and aired and sprayed and washed and aired.....and finally the smell is gone.
The smoke smell is oil based....tar....and a solvent will remove it...or hot water. However wool or silk would be ruined by using hot water or a solvent cleaner...
If the clothes will stand it, wash in hot water and boost the detergent with a little washing soda...or even TSP. Jeans and woven cotton clothes will be fine with this method.
Linda C

    Bookmark   September 26, 2009 at 11:52PM
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don't use vinegar with any kind of synthetic fabric, because it has a tendency to lock smells in once it hits the dryer.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2009 at 11:45AM
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Sams sells a concentrate Odo-Ban that is wonderful for smoke smells!
I *think* Walmart carries some, but its not the concentrate.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 1:30PM
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peanutmom, you should have hung the clothes out in the rain! Rain will often wash out odors, and the fresh air helps too.

Beyond that, I would wash them in the hottest water safe for the fabric -- maybe even in an 'unsafe' temp if that's the only option to having unwearable clothes.

I would wash them in Tide w/bleach (it's non-chlorine bleach) and let them soak a while -- at least an hour, maybe even overnight. If your washer is not an HE washer, I would use the powder formula of Tide w/bleach.

I would put vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser. You could add FS if you want the scent.

I definitely would not put them in the dryer until all the odor is gone. I would probably dry them in fresh air first to be sure all the odor was out.

Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2009 at 11:08PM
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I just had to chime in here because my parents smoked for all the years I was growing up and didn't quit till they were in their 50/60's. They still have all the furniture, including mattress/boxsprings, sofa, etc (and clothes) they were using before they quit. And now, you would never know a cigarette had been smoked in their house. I don't recall it but I will ask them if they used something special to clean up. Febreeze wasn't even on the market at that time. Soooo I don't think it's cigarette smoke.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2009 at 7:13AM
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I wanted to thank everyone who chimed in to help. I have washed (and washed) the clothes. I did everything except hanging them in the rain and using the Tide and TSP(I am sensitive to a lot of detergents and my daughter has inherited this,too). I live in a high wind area and didn't want to chase my clothes across the neighbors yard! LOL.

After washing things a couple of times and leaving them out over night (when it was calling for calm breezes) Most of the smell was gone. At least that I could tell. My daughter has some growing to do for a lot of the clothes and that gives me some extra time to get rid of the smell if there is still any in there when I pull them out of the containers they are stored in.

BTW, I have used the odo-ban and don't know what I was thinking not to have tried it first. I always had to wash things a second time, but the vinegar rinse seemed to get rid of the funky after-smell.

Thanks again!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2009 at 11:41AM
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