How to Get Fire Smoke Smell Out of Clothes

Fire smoke is one of the most persistent smells you can get stuck with. Very often, it’s quite difficult to completely remove it from the fabrics. 

There are different types of smoke smells depending on what was burning, and besides differing in the perceptual experience, they also differ in how easy it is to get rid of them. For example, the smell of dry wood or paper burning, also known as “dry smoke,” is much easier to get out of clothes compared to “wet smoke” which results from different types of materials, like plastic, burning. Wet smoke is heavier and stinkier, and its molecules linger more on the fabric fibers.

Depending on how severe the smell is, there are a few different tactics that you can try to get rid of the unpleasant smell of smoke from your clothes. In this article, we are glad to share our hacks on how to get fire smoke smell out of clothes and wear them proudly again.

How to Get Fire Smoke Smell Out of Clothes With Machine Washing

If possible, the ideal tactic is simply washing your clothes in a machine. Any type of smell is best removed from fabrics using water, soap, and a washing machine. However, if the piece of clothing has holes, you might as well throw it.

Before washing your clothes in the washing machine, take them outside and give them a good shake, as you don’t want any loose soot pieces wandering around your washing machine. After shaking, leave them outside in the sun a little bit, and then sort them regularly for washing.

Vinegar Mixture

Before you put the clothes into the washing machine, soak them in warm water mixed with at least one cup of vinegar. You can add essential oils to this mixture or even citrus peels. Leave it to soak for a few hours, then put it in a washing machine and wash as you usually do.

Lemon Juice

Take a whole lemon and squeeze it into a cup. Before the machine’s first washing cycle, add this cup to your laundry. Lemon is usually very helpful for removing smoke odors.


Alcohol can be used to remove smoke odors and other smells from clothes. Surprisingly, cheap vodka or a bottle of plain alcohol from the pharmacy added to your washing machine can do miracles in removing the bad smell of smoke. Just, remember to add a cup of vodka or rubbing alcohol before the first cycle.

Laundry Scent Enhancers

Did you know that there are special chemicals designed to boost the pleasant smell of your fabrics? You can use them to eliminate the smell of smoke in your clothes. 

You can do this yourself also if you mix up some rock salt (around a cup) with 10-20 drops of essential oil of your choice.

How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Clothes Without (Machine) Washing

While machine washing certainly is the fastest and the most efficient way of handling the post-fire clothes smell, sometimes you are dealing with fabrics that can’t be machine washed, or you’re not in a convenient situation to machine launder your clothes.

Warm Water Soak

If (machine) washing is not a feasible option, perhaps soaking your clothes in warm water is. You can add some laundry detergent, baby soap, or white vinegar to the water and leave it to soak during the night.

In the morning, wash it off with water and smell your clothes. If it still smells, repeat, or…

Sun-Dry Your Clothes

Sun is an excellent smoke smell absorber, and if you find yourself on a camping trip where it’s not very convenient to wash your clothes, but you still don’t want them smelling like smoke, consider letting them sunbathe for a while. Don’t overdo it, because the sun may cause damage or dry out the fabric. Two to three hours should be enough to get the smell of smoke out of your clothing fibers.

Baking Soda

We can not stress enough how good of a smell absorber baking soda is. If you’ve ever kept stinky foods in your fridge, you probably know about the power of baking soda for odor elimination. Well, it does not only work for the odors that are lingering in the air, but also for those that nest in the fine fibers of the clothes fabrics.

If you want to use this method, take a big plastic bag, and place your smoke-affected clothes inside. Then, add a cup of baking soda inside and close the bag tightly. 

Shake it well so the baking soda powder spreads all over the clothes. Leave it like that to sit during the night. Eight to ten hours should be sufficient for the baking soda powder to absorb the smoke smell molecules.

In the morning, take the bag outside, and open it there. Shake the baking soda off your clothes, and smell it. If it still smells like smoke, repeat the procedure, or proceed with another method.

Steam Power

With no washing machine at hand, steam might be a good solution B, if you have one. You have probably figured by now that smoke odor is best removed using heat, which is why steam works so well. You can either use a steamer cleaner handheld machine or a simple iron with a steamer option. There are also special types of steamers made only for clothes and other light fabrics.

If you’re going with an iron, make sure that you fill it up with distilled water or a 3:1 mixture of alcohol and distilled water.

DIY or Commercial Anti-Odor Spray

Getting the smell of smoke out or at least masking it very well can be done by using a spray for odor elimination. These are widely available in shops and online, and some options are specialized for clothes. 

This type of spray is easily homemade as well. All you need to do is mix up equal amounts of water and vinegar into a bottle and then add 20-30 drops of any essential oil. Many people like to use lavender for this purpose; however, citrus smells are also quite effective for odor elimination.

Final Word

Having clothes that smell like smoke is annoying and unpleasant. Nobody wants that. While washing them in a machine is by far the easiest way to get rid of the smell of smoke, there are situations when it’s not possible. In those moments, you may want to resort to some of the tips and tricks, such as soaking your clothes in warm water, if that’s available, sunbathing it, or covering it in baking soda.

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