How to remove cigarette smoke from fabrics

I have known for some time just how useful it is to have a bag of bicarbonate of soda in the house. I have written about its fantastic cleaning power before.

This week I have discovered yet another use for bicarbonate of soda: a way to remove cigarette smoke from fabrics. I bought a very pretty dress from the boot sale last week, one of my amazing boot sale bargains. However, when I looked at it more closely I realised it stank of cigarette smoke.

You can remove cigarette smoke from fabrics!

remove cigarette smoke from fabricsFortunately the dress was washable, so I put it in the machine on a gentle hand wash. When I got it out, it smelled even worse! As if the stinky smoke and tar were so deeply ingrained into the fibres of the fabric that I was releasing them but not quite letting them go.

I had a quick look on the internet and several sites suggested adding half a cup of bicarbonate to the powder dispenser. I tried this and washed it again. It smelled better, but still not quite there.

I tried again, this time adding a cup of white wine vinegar and some lavender essential oil where I usually pour the fabric softener.

Hurrah! Third time lucky! As a non smoker, I had no idea cigarette smoke be so absorbed into a fabric. The previous owner must have been such a heavy smoker she probably didn’t even notice!

The dress came out good as new after its three washes. I thought I was going to have to give it to the charity shop.

My stock of bicarbonate of soda is almost used up now so I will get some more. I generally buy one like this from Amazon: SODIUM BICARBONATE of Soda | 1KG BAG | 100% BP/Food Grade | Bath, Baking, Cleaning. You can get even bigger bags that work out cheaper still but I don’t have the space to store it. (Disclaimer: this is my affiliate link)

White vinegar

White vinegar is another incredibly useful cleaning ingredient in its own right. I must do a post on that some time. It works well by itself or in combination with the bicarbonate of soda. As well as in combination to remove cigarette smoke from fabrics, I used them both in this home made cleaning spray.

Has anyone else tried any natural home made cleaning products? What do you recommend?

Off to London today to see the flat DD2 has moved into with her lovely boyfriend. We are driving as there are four of us and it is cheaper than by train. When I  go again in a few weeks for the SHOMO Awards I will travel by train as I will be by myself. So much more relaxing.

Incidentally there is still time to vote  for your favourite blog in the People’s Choice award. Voting closes on 31st August.

Whatever you are up to today have a great Sunday.


8 thoughts on “How to remove cigarette smoke from fabrics

  1. Great that you got the smoke smell away eventually. Can I make a plea? Please don’t give anything smelling of smoke ( or other things) to the charity shop. At our project we bag them immediately and they are picked up by the wastesavers company as we can’t put them out for sale either. Worse still, one smoky garment contaminates the whole rail. I use vinegar and bicarb a lot too. We had smelly cheese recently and an open dish of bicarb worked wonders. Enjoying your blog and am off to cast that vote now! Catriona

    • absolutely agree. in my charity shop cigarette-smelling clothes have to go straight to the waste disposal as nobody wants to buy them, and the smell quickly contaminates other donations. it continues to amaze me how people donate smelly, dirty and broken stuff to the charity shop, as though they are a second-rate dumping ground – it’s horrible to open up bags of rubbish like this, and not fair on the hard-working volunteers.

  2. Half a lemon removes timescale from around taps and white vinegar and water 50 50 will clean shower tiles and screens. Always rinse well

  3. I will try this with some fabric I have inherited, unfortunately it has been cut into hexagons, so I will have to sew it up into blocks before I can wash it, although I wonder if I could put it all into a net bag and wash it that way?

    • Worth a try. You could try soaking them in a solution of bicarbonate first then gently wash? Presumably you don’t want them fraying

  4. You could put the haxagons in a bag with the bicarb and it should absorb the smoke smell. Shake thee bag from time to time.

  5. One of hubby’s shirts that I air dry got that sour smell and even washing it again wouldn’t get it out, I was going to throw it out but tried soaking it in baking soda first and it worked! Our water shoes are smelling foul after a weekend at the ocean, I am going to try it on those next 🙂

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