Getting Cigarette Smoke Out of Clothes

monicakm_gwNovember 27, 2008

My daughter's friend gave her a lot of clothes. Friend smokes, heavily and all the clothes are saturated in it. So far, my daughter has washed them in detergent, rinsed using a vinegar rinse and (I think) she said a "vodka" rinse?? It didn't work. Are there some TnT ways of getting these clothes smelling fresh. She just can't wear them smelling like smoke. She also used a peroxide wash or rinse.

She doesn't have a clothes line to let them dry in the sunshine.



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You don't need a clothes line to get them outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Just drape them over chairs or whatever.

I would try multiple washings. I would add Downy fabric softener to the rinse. I would spray Fabreeze on them. But in the end, sometimes you just can't get odors out of clothing.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 8:31AM
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Graywings is right. Simple fresh air (cold or warm) is the only thing that will remove odors. And sometimes it's a lost cause. She may have to donate the clothes to charity,if they are in otherwise good shape. If not, toss them.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 12:09PM
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I should think, in theory as I have no specific experience, that one would want to avoid fabric softener. Again, in theory, find some sunlight even if one has to take ones newly acquired bloomers to the public park.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 5:10PM
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Peroxide is worse than bleach on clothes, it will make them shred to pieces. Don't use peroxide!

I agree, several washings, and perhaps soak them in a vinegar rinse before you wash.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 12:28AM
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I have been using peroxide instead of bleach on sheets and towels for a few years now and have never had a problem. I even spray it full strength on bloodstains (3 boys, that should explain it!) and have never had a problem.
My suggestion would be to soak them in oxyclean in the washer. Just put a couple of scoops in, add the clothes and start the washer (warm or hot works best). It got the "locker room" smell out of my son's football uniform that he would only bring home every few weeks. If the smell is really bad it might take a couple of tries but it should work.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2008 at 5:34PM
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One of my custmers wanted me to takie clothing to Goodwiil for. She is a chain smoker. I put them on hangers hung in garage for 3 days.with doors open in day time. Had screen locked. Then I put in boxes with coffee in container in it. Smelled fine . I had washed them twice before any of this.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 8:40PM
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Smoke smell is held in oils/tar.....remove the oils/ tar and the smell is gone...
If fresh air doesn't do it....soap and water should.
I was given a wook item knit by a heavy smoker....Pee-yeew!
I aired it...I re aired it...I sprayed it with lysol...I re re aired it....I "Fabreez-ed" it....and aired some more.
It's fine now!
I didn't want to wash it beacuse of tha nature of the thing and all the fancy work...
However....with enough air, it did go away!
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 30, 2008 at 8:49PM
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What do the persons who resell used cars do?

I'm not a auto enthusiasts, indeed I rather dislike the expensive lumbering bothers but often cleaning questions make me think of problems car persons must face frequently.

People who sell used cars have to deal with kid and pet odors, emesis, alcohol and tobacco odors.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 11:27AM
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Thank you for all the suggestions. I agree that the good ol' outdoors will do more than anything else. I'll forward her this link. Thanks again,

    Bookmark   December 1, 2008 at 11:52AM
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How about soaking the clothes for a day or two? I find it hard to believe you couldn't get the odor out if you soak the clothes (and get rid of the nicotine imbeded in them.)

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 4:01PM
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Try ammonia and borax in the hottest water the fabric can stand with a little bit of detergent to cut the grease. That worked for me getting nicotine stains and smells out of some old cotton curtains.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 1:21PM
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If they are in good condition and she wants to wear them for a reasonable period of time why doesn't she have them drycleaned?

FWIW, I smoke (I know, bad example for a doctor) but I digress. I never have any problem getting things washed out and clean smelling with plain old Liquid Tide HE, Clorox 2 and Downey Mtn. Spring.


    Bookmark   December 3, 2008 at 5:55PM
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@ * justjustin '' .... I never have any problem getting things ... clean smelling ... ''

Should you quit smoking you may be quite overwhelmed with smells.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 11:38AM
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My family are scentaholics. You can smell us comming (in a "good" way). I do try to be sensitive to my patients with allergies, though.


    Bookmark   December 5, 2008 at 4:32PM
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I smoked for years and now that I've quit I've went through my whole house and washed everything. I no longer smell the smoke. I used the Lemon Mr. Clean on my walls, floors, etc. And I wash my clothes in Tide. They no longer smell of smoke. I don't understand why your's still do if you used tide. Maybe you could try putting a little white vinegar in the washer instead of soap, then re-wash with tide or your favorite detergent.


    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 1:48AM
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Fresh air. Period. I had a bunch of Beanie Babies during the craze that I'd bought from a smoker. I sat them on the patio table all day and then sprayed with a bit of Febreeze. They smell fresh and never got the smoke smell back. If your daughter doesn't have a place to set the clothes outside, have her bring them to your house or a friends and just leave them there for a couple of days.

    Bookmark   December 6, 2008 at 7:06AM
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i just got 3 huge bags full of old dress up clothes from an in law who chain smokes in her house- disgusting smelling... and I am a previous smoker and sometimes still pick up a cig every now and then- this makes me want to stop FOREVER how disgusting these clothes smell- I am only trying these remedies bc my girls would really love to play in these dress up clothes and some are from when my husband was little so these have been passed down from generations- i have tried lysol, then washing w extra detergent, then washing AGAIN, then with febreeze, and then letting sit outside to dry and spraying again w lysol.... i will know in a couple of days if all my efforts have worked- and BTW my clothes now stink from all the handling - is so sad bc two of the white dresses are from my wedding that the flower girls wore and I would love for my girls to play in these

    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 9:01PM
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It will just take a few or maybe even 4 washings if it's really bad. I bought a new shirt at Sears and didn't realize it must have been a return, it had all it's tags but apparently it sat in someone's smoky home or car. It took actually 3 washings to get the smoke from this cotton knit top!!!!! CRAZY! Makes me wonder how anyone can smoke! Disgusting!!!!!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 8:54AM
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1st of all I smoke & don't want to hear about it. 2nd, I am fantantical about the smell of smoke in my house & car which, I am happy to say, I do not have. All my clothes are hung on the line, (live in MA so very cold air to me is best), & smoke odor is then gone & others who do not smoke agree. I also use a fabulous air spray which I will not reveal since I don't want to be accused of sending spam. Friends come into my house & think I've quit smoking. But to me, God's fresh air is the best. I hang all my bed pillows on the line a couple of times a week because I love the smell of the fresh air. I wld do this even if I didn't smoke. Fresh air is free; dryers are not! Also, I use vinegar for the final rinse which works great! Clothes are soft & can be used on microfiber vs fab. soft. which shld not be used. Vinegar scent is gone when clothes dry. I have never heard of clothes retaining smoke odor that long after several washings. I'd throw my clothes away were this the case-or consider quitting! I also use my "secret" air freshener in my closet. My clothes smell great!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 1:00PM
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I would put them in the washer with a good/excessive amount of oxyclean dissolved in the hottest water they can handle, and let them sit many hours or overnight and then run the washer with detergent and rinse as usual. Maybe an extra rinse.

I find oxyclean takes out EVERYTHING if left long enough; stains, odors, grease, etc. and doesn't harm the fabric.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 3:40PM
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I just heard about a product called Zero Odor, available at BBB.
Going to give it a try.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 8:48AM
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I'm lol since the odor emlimator I use is Zero Odor but I was afraid to mention it since I was afraid I would be accused of spamming. ZO is fantastic! It is what I use to rid my house/car & clothes of smoke odor along w/God's fresh air! Thank you, house elf for saying ZO right out loud. I love it! But what is BBB?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2011 at 1:22PM
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I might have to check into the zero odor stuff. My kids have a friend whose parents smoke and he is always giving them his old clothes or toys. Most of it I have to throw away because nothing I've done can get the smell out.

I know smokers think they are doing all they can to get the smell out, but it's still there. I have a couple of neighbors who smoke and just being outside when they run their dryer is nauseating. The smell of cigarettes and dryer sheets is an awful combination! When their kids come to my house my house smells for hours afterward...and these are very clean kids. It's very sad.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2011 at 11:58AM
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Odoban is great at removing cigarette smell. My DH and I borrowed a vehicle from a heavy smoker. She sprayed the car with Odoban before she loaned it to us and there was NO ODOR OF SMOKE!! AT ALL!!! I have put it in the wash water when the clothes I waswearing while doing the burn pile hit the wash and it worked wonderfully.

I used to be able to get it at Walmart. Just picked it up at Home Depot and my sister found it at Sam's Club.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2011 at 7:09PM
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It's important to use a clean rinsing detergent, like Nellie's, Country Save or Allen's Naturally. Borax is good for getting out smells, and it works even better if you let the clothes soak in the washer for half an hour on top of the washing time.

I'm in the process of getting the strong stale smoke smell out of all my brother's clothes now that he has moved out of a smoky apartment. I'm using regular detergent and borax, with about 1/4 cup vinegar in the rinse, and then hanging outside. If you have some oxyclean you can add that to the wash as well but it shouldn't be necessary.

Fabric softeners will just mask the smell and make the problem worse in the end since it coats the fabric.

    Bookmark   July 4, 2011 at 12:21PM
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My sis brought some clothes that she picked up from a garage sale. Cute kids clothes that unfortunately smells like smoke. Now its one thing to smoke if ur an adult cause u have a choice, but to subject children to it is really wrong and harmful. I washed the clothes 3 times. I am going to try fresh air, but I refuse to put it on my children. If I can't get rid of the smell bye bye clothes. Its sad really.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2011 at 7:18PM
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Just make sure she is using enough washing powders. My husband and I used to go out for dinner and dancing with friends to the VFW and we came home stinking of smoke. I had to shower before I went to bed to get it off my hair. The smell always came out of the clothes. Do the clothes smell of smoke or just a musty smell?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2013 at 2:13PM
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As someone who volunteers at a thrift store... DO NOT donate smell saturated clothing or household items! We use or recycle (donations to homeless shelters, animal shelters, numerous charitable organizations, International Children's Fund, etc.) absolutely everything we receive EXCEPT anything that smells. Smell is the first test before it even makes it into our store for sorting. If it smells, it is not kept or passed on. This keeps our store from smelling awful. Right now I have washed a whole load of fantastic jeans TWICE! They still smell, as does my house now. I will try a 1 C. baking soda and 1 C. vinegar soak overnight, but if they still smell, unfortunately all those wonderful clothes will be thrown away.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2015 at 9:08PM
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