Whether you smoke or have been staying in a smoking area, your clothes will have a lingering cigarette or burn smell afterward. The same thing applies to campfire smoke. So, how to get rid of the smoke smell from wool clothes without damaging them?
To answer this, let’s see how wool clothes are made, how susceptible they are to smoke smell, and what the appropriate cleaning methods are.
Does Wool Absorb Smoke Smell?
One of the first things you might notice is that not all clothes smell smoke after exposure. Different fabrics absorb cigarette smoke to varying degrees. Some are very susceptible to smoke smell, while others are pretty resistant.
Several chemical and physical properties determine the smoke absorption rate of fabrics. Physical properties are the dye and finishing coat of the fabric. Chemical properties are the weight, weave, and pore size of the fabrics. One important factor is the “moisture regain” factor, describing how much moisture the fibers in the fabric absorb from the air.
A study investigating tobacco smoke uptake by clothing fabrics found that polyester and silk fabrics are most resistant to smoke. Unfortunately, rayon and wool are two fabrics that absorb the most moisture from the air, and with that smoke smell.
This means that your wool clothes, including your wool coat, are not a good choice for a night out when you’re hanging out with smokers or in places where smoking is allowed.
This becomes an even bigger problem when we consider that wool has temperature-regulating and self-cleaning properties, meaning frequent washing is not necessary nor recommended.
Here’s what to do to avoid damaging your favorite coat.
Ways to Remove Smoke Smell Out of a Wool Coat
Smoking in bars and clubs is still allowed in some places. So, even if you do not smoke yourself, one night out can make your wool coat reek of smoke for weeks afterward. Here’s how to remedy the situation.
- Professional Cleaner
Before we dive into DIY solutions or tips and tricks to clean your wool coat at home, we should remind you that the safest solution is to just take your coat to a professional cleaner.
Dry cleaners and other professional cleaning services have special chemicals and tools to remove smell and stains from wool fabrics while retaining the fabric’s quality and color.
However, we understand that not everyone has the time and means to take their clothes to a professional cleaner. If that’s the case, here are some other alternatives.
- Dryer Sheets
Some people are very satisfied with dryer sheets, as they’ve been a go-to solution for delivering a fresh and pleasant scent to clothes for many years.
So, all you have to do to try this solution is to drop two dryer sheets on top of your wool coat and turn your dryer on a low-temperature setting and short cycle. Once the dryer has finished, immediately remove the wool coat and hang it in a well-ventilated room or outside to fully dry.
Another way people use dryer sheets is to simply rub them all over the wool coat after you air it out.
And finally, you can place dryer sheets inside the closet, on top of your clothes, or on the hangers where the wool coat is.
Dryer sheets are gentle and won’t damage the wool. However, it’s not always an efficient solution, especially if your coat smells a lot. Dryer sheets might not be able to cover or eliminate strong and intensive smells, which is why dryer sheets work best when combined with other methods for cleaning clothes, such as steaming.
- Steam Press
The best way to remove the smoke smell from a wool coat is to use steam – whether to steam press it or to use steam in another way.
If you have a steam presser for clothes, that would be ideal, although it’s not the only way to use steam to remove the smoke smell. For instance, you can hang your coat in the bathroom while you take a hot shower. If the temperature is hot enough and there’s enough steam, the unpleasant odors from the coat will evaporate. The same can be achieved with a steaming machine or tool.
Steam works because of science! A steam cleaner is a device that gradually heats up water to about 200°F (93°C) to create and release hot steam. When steam comes in contact with the fibers in the wool fabric, it loosens it, kills odor-causing bacteria and allergens, and destroys other dangerous particles released from cigarettes or campfire smoke.
However, since steam is not a chemical, it won’t affect the quality or color of the wool. In fact, steaming is what most professional cleaners use anyway, so if you can find a way to use it, you’ll probably be able to remove most, if not all, of the smoke smell.
- Airing Clothes
After steaming the coat, it’s good to leave it out in the open in the fresh air is good. In fact, sometimes, that’s all you even have to do to get rid of the cigarette or campfire smoke smell.
To air your coat properly, simply hang it outside in a well-ventilated area where you know there’s a passage of air or breeze. For instance, on your balcony or the backyard. Leave it there for at least a day or two and check to see if that solved the problem.
However, we were aware of the elementals. Do not leave your coat in the open if there’s a chance of rain, strong winds, sand storms, or other focus of nature that might do more damage. In fact, you should also consider the location where you live.
Air clothes outside work wonders for people in the suburbs, rural places, or areas where there’s little traffic. However, apartments in the center of big cities. The air outside is most likely polluted by all the cars, especially in winter.
If you live in a big city, then keep reading for other, more appropriate methods to get rid of the smoke.
- DIY Odor-Eliminating Spray
If you can’t steam your wool coat and you can’t leave it outside, then you might be able to save it by making a wool-friendly odor-eliminating spray.
Depending on where you live, you might find odor-eliminating sprays specially made for wool. For example, on Amazon, you can buy a cashmere, and wool spray made to remove odor.
But, if you’re more into DIYs or do not have access to commercially prepared odor-eliminating spray, there’s an easy way to make one yourself.
Mix together equal parts of water, wool-friendly detergent, and baking soda or white vinegar. Then, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil for that extra pleasant scent – usually, lemon-based scents work well. Pour the mixture into a spraying bottle and carefully spray all over your coat. The goal here is not to make the coat dripping wet from the mixture, but only to slightly make it moist.
Note: Do not use vinegar and baking soda directly on the fabric because they might damage it. When diluted in water, they’re good for stains and odors but are not strong enough to damage the material.
- Baking Soda Bath
The last resort for persistent smoke smells is to submerge the wool coat in a baking soda bath – but only if it’s washable.
Depending on the side of the coat, you can fill your tub or a big plastic bowl with water. You don’t need too much water; around five inches is more than enough or enough to fully cover the coat. Ideally, the water temperature should be lukewarm – not too hot, not too cold.
Pour baking soda into the water and mix until dissolved. Next, put the coat in the tub and make sure it’s fully covered with water and baking soda. You can sprinkle baking soda on top of the coat.
Leave it in the water for a couple of hours to soak. You can also leave it overnight. Then, in the morning, drain the water and rinse the coat until you’re sure there is no more baking soda on it.
For the drying method, you can place it in a dryer with a dryer sheet or hang it outside to dry naturally.
As we’ve seen, cashmere and other wool-based clothes are made from natural materials that, unfortunately, absorb a lot of environmental moisture, including smoke particles. That’s why your overcoat gets an unpleasant, smokey smell after a night out.
Fortunately, there are many ways in which you can prevent or remove the smell from your wool coat. The safest option is always to take the coat to a professional cleaner before putting it back in the closet, as the smell might also transfer to your other clothes.
However, if that’s not an option, you can try dryer sheets, steam, airing out the coat outside, making a DIY odor-eliminating spray, or submerging your coat in a baking soda bath.
Each of these solutions has its benefits and drawbacks, such as some might be more effective than others, but at the same time, they might be unsuitable for non-washable items.
See what works for you best based on the properties of your wool coat. Then, don’t be afraid to try different methods or even combine some of our recommendations for a greater effect.