How to Wash Clothes Affected by Smoke

Woman doing laundry
Clothes affected by smoke may need to be laundered several times. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

The odor of smoke often lingers, even when you're away from the source. When your clothes smell like smoke from a fire, cigarette just from cooking, try home remedies to eliminate the odor. Some common household products can remove the odor and leave your clothes smelling fresh again.

Colored Clothing/Non-Bleachable Items

Step 1

Fill up a tub, washing machine or sink with warm water. Add dishwasher detergent -- the kind used in dishwashers -- to the water. Use 1 cup of powdered detergent per gallon of warm water.

Step 2

Place the affected clothing in the water so it’s completely submerged. Allow the clothing to soak for at least eight hours.

Step 3

Remove the clothes from the water and wash them as usual with liquid laundry detergent.

Step 4

Air-dry the clothing completely, then check for any lingering smoke odor. If the odor remains, repeat the process. It may take several attempts to completely remove the odor.

Whites/Bleachable Items

Step 1

Fill a tub, washing machine or sink with warm water. Add 4 to 6 tablespoons of trisodium phosphate -- a cleaning agent -- for every gallon of water used. Also add 1 cup of chlorine bleach for each gallon of water.

Step 2

Submerge the clothes in the water. Let them sit for a few minutes, then rinse them with clean water. Let the clothing air-dry.

Step 3

Wash the clothing as usual with liquid laundry detergent. Let the clothing air-dry completely, then check for any lingering odor. Repeat the process as many times as necessary to remove all of the smoke odor.

Things You'll Need

  • Dishwasher detergent

  • Liquid laundry detergent

  • Trisodium phosphate

  • Chlorine bleach

Tip

Vinegar can also remove smoke odors from clothing. Fill a bathtub with very hot tap water. Add 1 cup of vinegar to the water. Hang the affected clothing over the bathtub. Close the bathroom door and leave the clothing in the room for several hours. The vinegar and steam will help to remove the odors. Wash the clothing as usual.

Buy trisodium phosphate at most home improvement or hardware stores.

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