How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Stuffed Animals

Inheriting or buying toys second-hand is a great way to save money and upcycle. However, this sometimes entails an additional effort to clean them to get the old and stale smell out. And if they were kept in a room where smoking is allowed, they would have absorbed the smoke smell, making them not only unpleasant to have around but also unsafe.

To make your child’s stuffed toys safe and enjoyable to play with, getting rid of the smoke smell is essential.

If stuffed animals are older or delicate, they may not be washing machine-friendly, so you’ll need to employ other strategies to eliminate the smoke smell. Newer toys and those in good condition are probably okay to be washed in a washing machine, but to be safe, check if they have a label or contact the seller online.

In this article, we’ll share some tips and tricks to help you remove the smoke smell from stuffed animals, both with and without machine washing, so let’s get right into it.

How to Get the Smoke Smell Out of Stuffed Animals

The smoke odor molecules can be very persistent, which is why eliminating them from soft fabrics can be very bothersome.

In some of our previous articles, we’ve shared helpful tips on how to get the smoke smell out of clothes and fabric furniture. Today, we will get into the specific details of how to get the smoke smell out of stuffed animals.

Air Out the Toys

It’s surprising how much you can do with fresh air and sunlight. With mildly affected toys, this step may even be enough to eliminate the smell completely. For those more severely affected, this is an excellent first step. You only need a drying rack or a clothesline and sunshine.

To achieve better results, take the stuffing out if possible. Arrange the plush toys on a drying rack, the clothesline in your yard, or the balcony, and let the air and sun do their magic. With the help of some light breeze, the smoke odor molecules will break away from your child’s stuffed animals.

Replace the Stuffing

If the stuffing is severely affected and airing out doesn’t suffice, you can always replace the stuffing. This will not only remove the smell but also bring new life into the toy, especially if the old stuffing has already gotten soggy and worn out.

First, buy a new stuffing material. The best and longest-lasting choice is polyester fiberfill.

Then, you can try to replace the stuffing yourself or take it to a local sewist. If you decide to do it on your own, here’s a simple video guide. You’ll need to open the toys carefully, replace the stuffing, and sew the animals back in. This will require very basic sewing skills, but it’s better to watch the tutorial if you’re inexperienced.

Smoke Smell Absorbers

The most popular smell absorbers are:

  • Baking soda
  • Cat litter
  • Activated charcoal

Most people prefer baking soda because it’s low-cost, has a high success rate, and they probably already have it in the house.

The application is simple. Put the toy into a paper or plastic sack and add two or three cups of baking soda, activated charcoal, or cat litter.

Close the bag and let the toy sit for a few days so the powder can absorb the smoke odor molecules.

After a few days, take the toy out and either shake off the remaining powder or vacuum it.

Wash the Toy

If you’ve found out that the stuffed animal can be safely washed in the machine, here are a few tips on making this process more effective.

Use an organic laundry detergent with a citrus or lavender smell, as those show the best results when it comes to odor removal. Put the toys inside the machine. If it’s easy to take out the stuffing, do that. Use a gentle program out of precaution. Dry it outside in the sun if possible.

If, however, the toy is older, worn out, and unsuitable for the washing machine, you can also wipe it with a cloth damped in a distilled white vinegar and water mixture. The vinegar usually has a strong odor at first, but it’s an excellent smell absorber and evaporates quickly.

Fabric Softener Sheets and Dryer Sheets

We often recommend fabric softener sheets or dryer sheets to remove the smoke smell from fabric materials because it’s an efficient approach and they’ll make your stuffed toys softer.

Besides their softening powers, these sheets also have tremendous smell-absorbing abilities.

You can rub the stuffed animal with the sheets or put them in a dryer. Be mindful of the program you choose because some can damage the toy. It’s best to use a sensitive or mild program.

Keep in mind that some toys are not dryer machine-friendly. If the toy is too worn out or has a lot of sewn pieces (buttons, metal pieces, etc.), it would be wiser to stay clear of washing machines and dryers.

Essential Oils Solution

Mix a few drops from any essential oil with water and pour them into a spraying bottle. The oil-water ratio is a matter of your preference.

The most suitable essential oils for removing the smoke smell out of stuffed animals are citrus or lavender, as these scents are most successful at combating smoke odors.

Simply spray the whole toy with the solution and let it dry outside. The air, sun, and oil scent should successfully remove the smell of smoke for good.


Stuffed animals that smell of smoke are not a childhood memory you want your child to carry to adulthood. Besides being unpleasant, inhaling smoke odor can also be dangerous, especially if we’re talking about cigarette smoke smell.

Although getting rid of smoke from fabric items can be tedious, it’s still doable. If the toy is severely affected, repeating the procedure or combining several methods to achieve the best results may be the best course of action.

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