How to Remove Cigarette and Cigar Smell From Clothes and Carpet

two cigarettes in a red ashtray

Ian Dooley / Unsplash

Stale cigarette and cigar smoke odors are never pleasant. If you have had a smoky encounter, you should treat your clothing and home as soon as possible to regain the freshness you desire. It is not difficult. There are a few methods that you can try at home with common household supplies, although patience is an important part of the solution since odors dissipate given enough time.

Odor type Smoke
Detergent type Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Water temperature Warm

Project Metrics

  • Working Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 8 hours to several days

Before You Begin

If the clothing is labeled dry-clean-only, follow the steps for airing the clothing outdoors or inside. You can also use a home dry cleaning kit to refresh fabrics or take your garments to a professional cleaner

If it is a garment that can be hand-washed, add a pre-washing 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. 

For odor removal from vintage upholstery, consult a professional.

What You'll Need

Supplies

Tools

  • Soaking basin or sink
  • Clothesline or clothes rack
  • Sealable bin or plastic bag (optional)
  • Bowl (optional for carpet or upholstery)
  • Vacuum (optional for carpet or upholstery)

How to Remove Cigarette and Cigar Smell From Clothing

If your washable clothes and linens are smoky due to exposure for only a short time like a weekend visit, these methods work particularly well. Extended exposure will take repeated treatments.

  1. Air Out the Garment

    Hang the smoke-laden clothing in the open air. If you cannot 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 of weeks.

  2. Soak in Baking Soda and Water Solution

    To remove the odor, soak the washable clothing in a sink or washing machine filled with warm water and 1 cup baking soda before washing. Overnight is usually sufficient. 

  3. Machine Wash

    After soaking, wash according to the garment care label instructions using unscented laundry detergent. Add 1 cup of distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle and stop the cycle. Let the laundry soak for an hour in the vinegar and water solution before completing the rinse cycle. If the clothes should be hand-washed, follow your usual routine but add vinegar to the rinse water.

  4. Air Dry

    Dry the freshly washed clothes and linens on a clothesline or clothes rack in the sunlight. If you must dry in a clothes dryer, use a low-temperature setting because excessively high heat can actually cause any remaining odor molecules to bond with the fibers.

    Hanging Fabrics Outdoors

    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. Line drying your clothes will also provide a final opportunity for clothes to air out.

  5. Use a Fabric Freshener

    If the smoke smell lingers, use a fabric refresher in either scented or unscented formulas to mask the odors. These in-wash formulas or sprays bind with the odor molecules. If spraying, spray the clothing outside and let it continue to air.

  6. Seal in Container With Baking Soda

Do not store clothes away long-term with any type of strong odor. However, temporarily, you can use a sealed container to trap odors. Place the garments in a sealed plastic tub or heavy-duty plastic bag with a box of baking soda. Leave the container sealed for a week or so. The baking soda will absorb the odors similar to how it works in your refrigerator.

How to Remove Cigarette and Cigar Smell From Carpet and Upholstery

If you have a frequent indoor smoker in the house, it is nearly impossible to remove all of the smoke smell from carpet and upholstery. But it can be done if the smoke exposure was brief.

  1. Clean Out the Cigarette Butts and Ashes

    As soon as possible, empty all ashtrays and dispose of the trash bags.

  2. Air Out the Room

    Open as many windows as possible and turn on circulating fans to help bring in the fresh air.

  3. Set Out Bowls of Vinegar

    Pour some distilled white vinegar into small bowls or cups and place in the affected rooms.

  4. Put Washable Accessories in Washer

    Toss any washable curtains, small rugs, pillows, and throw blankets from the room in the washer.

  5. Treat Carpet and Upholstery With Baking Soda

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 after cleaning or empty the vacuum cup.

Usually, all it takes is one time going through these steps to remove strong smoke odor. But, if your clothes, carpet, or upholstery still have bothersome cigarette odors or nicotine stains, repeat these steps. If the baking soda method does not work on carpet or upholstery the second time, then get a commercial odor remover that uses activated charcoal.