How to Remove Cigarette and Cigar Smell from Clothes and Carpet

cigarette smoke
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Stale cigarette and cigar odors are never pleasant. If you've had a smoky encounter, treat your clothing and home as soon as possible to regain the freshness you desire.

How to Get Cigarette and Cigar Smell Out of Washable Clothes

If your washable clothes and linens are smoky, follow these steps to freshen them and remove the odors. These methods works particularly well if the fabrics were exposed to the smoke for only a short time like a weekend visit.

  1. Air them out. Hang the cigarette smoke infested clothing in the open air. If you can’t hang things outside, hang the clothing in a breezy, warm, and sunlit room filled with lots of green leafy plants to help absorb the odors. Use a fan to create air movement. The length of time you need to air clothes depends upon how saturated the clothing is with smoke and how sensitive you are to the odor. The length of airing can be as little as a few hours to a couple weeks.
  2. Soaking. To remove the odor, soak the clothing in a sink or washing machine filled with warm water and one cup baking soda before washing. Overnight is usually sufficient. 
  3. Washing. After soaking, wash according to the garment care label instructions using unscented laundry detergent. Add a cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle and stop the cycle. Let the laundry soak for an hour before completing the rinse cycle. To insure that all detergent has been rinsed from your clothing, add an extra rinse cycle but do not add any additives to this extra rinse. If the clothes should be hand washed, follow your usual routine but add the distilled white vinegar to the rinse water.
  1. Drying and airing. Dry the freshly washed clothes and linens on a clothes line or clothes rack in the sunlight. The ultra-violet rays of the sunlight will help remove odors and smells; however, bright sunlight can cause dyes to fade so hang dark colors in the shade. The line drying will also provide a final opportunity for clothes to air out. If you must dry in a clothes dryer, use a low temperature setting because excessively high heat can actually cause any remaining odors to set into the fabric by bonding with fibers and dyes.
  1. Use a fabric refresher. You may find that a fabric refresher in either scented or unscented formulas, may remove odors. There are in-wash formulas as well as sprays. If spraying, spray the clothing outside and let it continue to air.
  2. Store away. You really don't want to store clothes away with any type of strong odor. But, you can place the garments in a sealed plastic tub or heavy-duty plastic bag with a box of baking soda. Leave them sealed for a week or so. The baking soda will absorb the odors-similar to what it does in your refrigerator.
  3. Repeat if necessary. Once through this process will effectively remove smells and irritants enough for most people. If your clothes still have bothersome cigarette odors, you can repeat the steps. These methods are safe for all washable fabrics.

How to Get Cigarette and Cigar Smell Out of Dry Clean Only Clothes

If the clothing is labeled dry clean only, follow the steps for airing the clothing outdoors or inside. If it is a garment that can be hand washed, you can add the baking soda soaking step and a vinegar rinse. 

If the item can not be hand washed, try a fabric refresher spray. The formula will trap the odor molecules and suspend them until the clothes can be properly cleaned.

If possible, spray the clothing with the fabric refresher outside and let it continue to air.

You can also use a home dry cleaning kit to refresh them or take your garments to a professional cleaner. If you particularly sensitive to odors and perfumes, talk to your dry cleaner because some cleaning formulas have perfumes added.

How to Get Cigarette and Cigar Smell Out of Carpet and Upholstery

If you have a regular indoor smoker in the house, it is nearly impossible to remove all the smoke smell from carpet and upholstery. But it can be done if the smoking was short term like a weekend guest or party.

As soon as possible, empty all ashtrays and dispose of the trash bags. Open as many windows as possible and turn on circulating fans to help bring in fresh air. Pour some distilled white vinegar into small bowls or cups and place in the affected room.

Toss any washable cushions and throws in the wash and sprinkle plain, dry baking soda on carpets and area rugs. Allow the baking soda to remain on the carpet for about an hour and then vacuum up. Be sure to toss the vacuum bags or empty the vacuum cup.

If that doesn't do the trick, repeat the steps or resort to a commercial odor remover that uses activated charcoal.

For more stain removal tips, read Stain Removal A to Z.