How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Suitcase

Packing for a trip and packing to go home are usually two different stories. The first involves freshly washed clothes neatly folded and organized, while the latter means quickly cramming your clothes into the suitcase as you rush to leave.

And as some of you know, worn and sweaty or smelly clothes can make your suitcase smell, which is especially true if you’ve spent time around a bonfire or in clubs and bars where smoking is allowed that caused your clothes to smell of smoke. And while you can wash your clothes once you get back home, the lingering smell in your suitcase can be very annoying.

Keep reading to find out how to get smoke smell out of a suitcase.

How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Suitcase

There are several ways to get the smoke smell out of a suitcase, from simply airing it out to applying different solutions and products. Let’s go over the most common and effective methods.

Air It Out

A little bit of sun and fresh air is the go-to solution when it comes to getting the smoke smell out of a suitcase. In mild cases, this step can get the job done, while in more severe cases, it’s a great starting point as it helps reduce the smell.

Vacuum Cleaning

Put the crevice attachment on your vacuum cleaner and clean the suitcase from the inside. If you vacuum all the crumbs, dust particles, and other debris, anything else you do after will be much easier and more effective.

Try to reach all the corners and clean the hairs or dust with wet wipes from the spots where the crevice attachment doesn’t fit in. Don’t forget to vacuum the insides of the pockets, if there are any.

Vinegar or Lemon

Dissolve half a lemon or 2 cups of distilled white vinegar in half a gallon of water. Pour the solution into a sprinkler and wipe the suitcase from both inside and outside.

Alternatively, leave an open-lid Tupperware with some vinegar inside the suitcase and close it. Let it sit for a few days, then take it out. The vinegar should absorb the smoke odor.

Odor Absorbers

When it comes to odor removal, odor absorbers are irreplaceable. You can try many different options, from baking soda and newspapers to activated charcoal, cedar balls, and cat litter.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the most successful smoke odor absorbers. Here’s how to use it.

Cover the whole suitcase with powder (don’t forget to fill up the pockets, if any) and leave it for a few days in an empty room or outside. We recommend the room to be empty so the smoke odor from the suitcase doesn’t affect your other furniture. After a few days, simply vacuum the remaining soda and wipe the suitcase with a damp cloth (it can also be with a water and vinegar solution).

Another option is to place open containers of baking soda in the suitcase, close the suitcase, and leave it for a few days until the baking soda does its trick.

Finally, you can combine the baking soda with scraps of newspaper either in the container or simply by throwing the newspaper scraps over the scattered soda powder. Newspaper scraps have absorbent properties that can help neutralize odors.

Cedar Balls

Cedar balls are well-known for their smell-absorbing properties. Cedar itself won’t leave a strong fragrance in your suitcase, as its scent is mild, but it’s still potent at combating unwanted odors.

Cedar is also good because it’s reusable. Once you’ve eliminated the smoke smell from your suitcase, you can use it for another purpose (e.g., against stale closet smell).

Cedar comes in many shapes and forms, and perhaps cedar blocks are the best option for the suitcase (due to their rectangular shape). However, they have limited use afterward, as they take up more space.

Cedar balls are smaller and simpler to repurpose later because you can also use them for small spaces, such as drawers, shoes, purses, etc.

Finally, the combination of balls and rings is probably the best method if you plan to reuse your cedar later. These two shapes can fit in different places with ease.

Activated Charcoal

Like baking soda, activated charcoal is another potent odor absorber. It’s commonly used as a medication to absorb toxins from the intestines, but not many people know that it can also absorb unwanted odor molecules.

The application is similar to baking soda — just make sure to buy powdered activated charcoal (it’s also available as pills or liquid). You can find it in bulk packages, jars or bags, or dedicated fabric bags for purification.

Cat Litter

This DIY hack may come as a surprise, but cat litter works great as a smoke smell absorber — just think of its primary purpose.

The application principle is the same as with activated charcoal and baking soda. You can spread it around the suitcase, place it into an open container, or mix it with newspaper scraps.

The best cat litter products for removing the smoke smell from a suitcase are those with lavender and citrus smells.

Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets are amazing at eliminating unwanted odors, even when used outside the dryer machine.

Simply take several dryer sheets from the package and cover both the insides and the outsides of the suitcase. Don’t forget to fill up the pockets. Let them sit for a day or two, then toss them away. The smoke odor should be gone. If not, combine it with another method, such as vinegar-water solution or absorbers.

For best results, use dryer sheets smelling of lavender or citruses, as these scents are perfect for smoke odor elimination.

Detergent Wipe

Although some of the methods mentioned above also have antiseptic properties (e.g., the vinegar-water solution and baking soda are commonly used for home cleaning), when you’re done applying all of the odor absorption methods, it’s good to give your suitcase a light wipe with a detergent and water solution.

Add a few drops of liquid detergent to a damp cloth (preferably damped in lukewarm water), and wipe and rinse the suitcase. Leave it out in the open to dry.


Nobody likes to open their suitcase after an exciting travel trip, only to find out that their clothes, along with the suitcase, smell of smoke. But if that’s the case, it’s better to react sooner than later because smoke molecules tend to stick to surfaces and spread around as the air circulates. Before you know it, your suitcase may “infect” other items in your storage or the next batch of clothes you pack inside.

Plus, the smell of smoke tends to worsen over time, so it’s more likely that the suitcase will smell worse if you let it sit.

The best methods for getting rid of the smoke smell from your suitcase are ventilation, water-vinegar solution wipes, and using absorbers such as baking soda, activated charcoal, cedar, or cat litter.

Once you’re done with whatever method you choose, give your suitcase a good wipe with liquid laundry detergent.

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