How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Clothes: A Complete Guide

Clothes on a rack in a closet

How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Clothes: A Complete Guide

Are you tired of your clothes smelling like cigarette smoke or lingering odors from a bonfire? You’re not alone. Many people struggle with removing smoke smell from their clothes, but the good news is that there are effective solutions available.

There are various techniques and methods on how to get smoke smell out of clothes, some of which are both efficient and effective in getting rid of smoke smell from your clothes. We cover using ozone machines for smoke smell removal, as well as alternative methods such as washing techniques.

You can say goodbye to smoky odors and hello to fresh, clean-smelling clothes!

Short Summary

  • Understand the stubborn nature of smoke particles for effective removal.

  • Utilize ozone generators and pre-treatment methods to get rid of odors safely.

  • Employ alternative methods, such as baking soda or vinegar spray, for odor elimination.

Understanding Smoke Odors

smoke in the air

Smoke odors, including cigarette smell, can be quite persistent and difficult to remove from clothes.

Cigarette smoke molecules are encapsulated in tiny oil and tar particles. These particles are sticky and tend to remain attached to whatever surface they settle on. The stubborn nature of these smoke particles can make smoke smell removal a challenging task.

However, in choosing the right cleaning method, it is possible to eliminate those lingering odors and restore freshness to your clothes.

Various strategies are available for eliminating smoke odors from clothing, including the use of ozone generators, environmentally friendly laundry detergent, air fresheners and even letting clothes sit out in the fresh air, especially in direct sunlight.

It’s important to understand the nature of smoke odors and the different techniques that can be employed to tackle them effectively. By doing so, you’ll be better equipped to choose the most suitable method for removing smoke smell from your clothes and enjoy a fresh, smoke-free wardrobe.

Ozone Generators For Smoke Smell Removal

Autel 1000 ozone generator     why Autel

One of the most effective methods for removing smoke smell from clothes is the use of ozone generators. An ozone generator is a type of air purification system that produces ozone (O3) for the reduction of contaminants on surfaces and lingering odors in the air. It works by producing ozone gas, which is a powerful oxidizer that breaks apart odor-causing molecules at their source. This includes smoke smells on clothes as well as other airborne contaminants.

Many people wonder what ozone smells like. It has been compared to the smell that lingers after a thunderstorm. Ozone provides a fresh, clean scent like a sanitizer that actually removes the smell without masking it.

However, it is essential to exercise caution when using ozone generators for removing smoke smell from clothes, as inhaling ozone can irritate the respiratory system in humans and animals with prolonged exposure.

To ensure safe use, it’s important for pets and people to vacate the space while the unit is running. Then wait at least a couple of hours and make sure the space is suitably ventilated upon returning.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using an Ozone Generator For Smelly Clothes

Utilizing an ozone generator has been demonstrated to be an effective technique for eliminating smoke odor from clothing, as well as body odors from sweaty clothes or sports equipment.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps for using an ozone generator for smoke smell removal.

Before diving into the details of how to use an ozone generator, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and exercise caution during the process to ensure your safety. Feel free to read our ozone generator operating instructions for more information.

Treatment Techniques

To ensure ozone is effectively applied to contaminants on clothes, follow these steps:

  1. Position the ozone generator in the space near the clothes, preferably in a small room or closet.

  2. Make sure you hang clothing at least an inch apart in closets or out on shower rods, doorways, tables, or chairs so ozone can circulate around and into the fabric in order to oxidize away the odors.

  3. Set the ozone output dial to high.

  4. Depending on your size of space, set the timer dial to your desired time and leave the area. Refer to the OdorFree Treatment Manual for suggestions.

Post-Treatment Steps

After using an ozone generator, it’s crucial to follow these post-treatment guidelines. Here are the steps to follow.

  1. After the machine has turned off, wait at least 2 hours before re-entering the treated area.

  2. If residual ozone smell is present, open any windows and doors to speed up the off-gassing process.

  3. In the event smoke smell in the clothing persists, repeat the treatment steps above.

Following the above treatment steps will help ensure the complete and effective removal of smoke odors from your clothes, leaving them fresh and clean.

Be sure to always operate your ozone generator correctly. You can read more about ozone generator safety here.

Note: One word of caution would be overexposure of ozone to certain materials such as leather could result in a slight color lightening.


How Ozone Works


In nature, thunderstorms create ozone or O3 and also from sunlight striking the earth’s atmosphere. As an example, we’ve all taken a walk after a thunderstorm and experienced a fresh smell in the air. That's O3, or ozone, at work.

OdorFree ozone generators create O3 in a special process utilizing electrical current called corona discharge. Normal oxygen (O2) is converted to O3, which then reverts back to O2 in about 2 hours if the O3 is unused.

Ozone oxidation works by breaking down odors and other pollutants at their source. This leaves the air fresh and clean as well as surfaces because the source of the odor has been permanently oxidized or removed. With this process there are no artificial odors or fragrances so even the space becomes odor free.

Here are the models that OdorFree manufactures:

  • Autel 1000 - For Autos, Hotels, and Small Spaces with Short Treatment Times.

  • Suite 1500 - Treat Up to 1,500 Square Feet.

  • Villa 3000 - Treat Up to 3,000 Square Feet.

  • Estate 4000 - Treat Up to 4,000 Square Feet or larger.

While the smallest ozone generator will take care of smoky clothes odors in relatively small spaces such as a closet or small room, it may be beneficial to order a size that would take care of the entire space in the event it ever needs treatment or deodorizing. OdorFree has the right model to get rid of odors for any size of space!

Additional Information for Ozone Treatment of Clothing

If the clothing was just briefly exposed to unwanted odors, then treatment time may only take 20 minutes or so. Clothing that was exposed to odors over long periods of time may require a couple of hours or more, depending on the size of the space.

If possible, it is usually best to place the clothing in a small room or isolated space because the level of ozone will become higher in a shorter period of time. The smaller the space, the shorter the treatment time.

Be careful not to over-treat a small space with a high level of ozone for long time periods.

Alternative Methods to Remove Smoke Smell from Clothes

If using an ozone generator isn’t an option or you’re looking for alternative methods to remove smoke smell from clothes, there are other effective solutions available, such as a baking soda in the wash water or a diluted vinegar spray. These natural, cost-effective methods can help eliminate lingering odors and restore freshness to your clothes. However, these substances could possibly damage or discolor delicate fabrics such as wool or silk so be sure to use them sparingly.

Both baking soda and white vinegar are known for their odor-neutralizing properties. When used in combination with proper washing methods, they can effectively tackle smoke odors and leave your clothes smelling clean and fresh.

In the following two subsections, we’ll explore how to use a baking soda pre-soak and vinegar spray to remove smoke smell from clothes.

A person using baking soda to pre-soak smelly clothes to remove smoke smell

Baking Soda Treatment

The baking soda treatment method involves:

  • Placing the garment in a container with an open box of baking soda for several days.

  • Baking soda is a deodorizer that absorbs odors instead of masking them.

  • Its porous structure allows it to absorb and neutralize odors effectively.

To utilize the baking soda pre-soak method, follow these steps:

  1. Place the garment in a container.

  2. Open a box of baking soda and place it in the container with the garment being careful not to spill onto the fabric.

  3. Leave the garment in the container with the baking soda for a few days.

  4. After a few days, remove the garment from the container and shake off any excess baking soda.

  5. The smoke odor should be reduced or eliminated, leaving your garment fresh and ready to wear.

Vinegar Spray

Vinegar spray is a solution of equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. The acetic acid in vinegar is effective in eliminating a variety of odors, including those of:

  • mildew

  • smoke

  • pet accidents

  • cooking odors

  • garbage bins

To use vinegar spray to remove smoke smell from clothes, simply follow these steps:

  1. Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

  2. Spray the mixture onto the clothes, focusing on the areas with the strongest smoke odor.

  3. Allow the clothes to air dry.

  4. The vinegar will help neutralize the smoke odor, leaving your clothes smelling clean and fresh.

Clothing next to a vinegar spray bottle

Washing Methods for Smoke Smell Removal

Washing methods specifically designed for smoke smell removal can also be highly effective in tackling stubborn smoke odors. By breaking down smoke particles and removing them from the fabric, these washing methods can help restore your clothes to their original freshness. Some of the recommended washing methods for smoke smell removal include:

  • Using heavy-duty laundry detergents such as Tide or Persil.

  • Supplementing with baking soda or borax to augment the effectiveness of the detergent.

  • Adding scent boosters to the wash or scented dryer sheets will help mask or reduce the smoke smells.

  • Washing in warm water.

A person loading in clothes to a laundry machine

Special Considerations for Delicate Fabrics

When handling delicate fabrics, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Washing in hot water could cause damage to clothing.

  • Baking soda and white distilled vinegar neutralize odor but should be used sparingly on delicate fabrics.

  • Adhere to all care label instructions when laundering delicate fabrics to eliminate smoke odor.

bright colorful fabrics

How to Remove Smoke Smell from Non-Washable Items

Removing smoke smell from non-washable items, such as dry-clean-only garments and accessories, can be a bit more challenging. However, there are still effective methods available for tackling smoke odors in these items.


  • Hanging non-washable garments outside can help eliminate smoke odor from the fabric.

  • Another option for removing smoke odor from non-washable items is by using baking soda. The baking soda will absorb and neutralize odors, leaving the item smelling fresh and clean. Here’s how:

  • Sprinkle baking soda on the item.

  • Allow it to sit overnight.

  • Flip the garment over and tap to shake off any excess powder. Repeat process if necessary.

  • Spraying the garments with air fresheners such as Febreze or other chemical deodorizers can sometimes reduce or mask the odors.

Commercial Smoke Smell Removal

Antique clothing stores and dry cleaners often use a small room with racks to hang the clothes in for ozone treatment. By using a smaller space, the ozone levels will become higher in less time and remove the odors more quickly. Often, antique dealers will use ozone for clothes that are not easily washed such as leather jackets.


In conclusion, there are various methods and techniques available for removing smoke smell from clothes, including ozone generators, baking soda pre-soaks, vinegar sprays, air fresheners and specialized washing methods. By understanding the nature of smoke odors and employing the most suitable method for your needs, you can effectively eliminate smoke smell from your clothes and enjoy a fresh, clean wardrobe. While there is an inconvenience in leaving your home to use an ozone generator, more often than not it is the best and most convenient solution for smoke smell removal for clothing. Remember to always follow safety guidelines and take preventative measures to keep your clothes smoke-free and maintain a healthy living environment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What neutralizes the smell of smoke?

Ozone treatment with an ozone generator, white vinegar, baking soda, washing in detergent and sun exposure can help neutralize and absorb smoke odors.

How do you get the lingering smoke smell out of clothes?

You may use an ozone generator to quickly and easily eliminate most smoke odors. Another way to get the lingering smoke smell out of clothes is to soak them in a mixture of warm water and white vinegar for 30 minutes, then wash them as usual. Alternatively, soak them in warm water and baking soda before washing them, or dry them with scented dryer sheets, or hang them outside in the sun. However, the use of artificial fragrances will simply mask the smoke odor without eliminating it.

How do you get cigarette smell out of clothes without washing them?

The best way to get cigarette smell out of clothes is by using an ozone generator. Or, you can get cigarette smell out of clothes without washing them by hanging them outside in direct sunlight, using an odor-eliminating spray, or putting clothing and baking soda in a sealed bag overnight.

What does the ozone generator do?

An ozone generator is a device that converts oxygen from the air into ozone, which can break down odors and other airborne pollutants at their source. This process is scientifically known as oxidation, and is exactly how any odor can be effectively removed permanently. View the following video to see exactly how it works: Ozone Generator In Action

What is the most effective method for removing smoke smell from clothes?

Ozone generators have been proven to be the most effective method for removing smoke smell from clothes, though pre-soaks, vinegar sprays and the other methods listed above can also help if you are not able to use an ozone generator.

The Odor Answer Line 1-800-683-9749

Call us for any questions you may have on how to treat particular odors or which model to choose.