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The scent of stale cigar smoke can linger on your clothes for days. It’s not exactly the most pleasant smell in the world, which is why so many smokers find themselves googling “how to remove cigar smell from your clothes”.

If you find yourself searching for a solution to a lingering smoky smell, then you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are many solutions to this common problem that many cigar smokers have tried at one point or another. These methods can include using your everyday household cleaning supplies, washing clothes, or allowing the scent to dissipate on its own.

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If you’re a cigar collector and you don’t know how to store your cigars properly, the strong tobacco odor can invade your belongings. Using a top-rated cigar humidor can contain the smell and keep your stogies tasting and smelling fresh. Most experienced smokers already know this, but the eager beginner may not think twice about storing their premium cigars in the same drawer as clothing or in their closet, unprotected. If you’re a smoker and you’re clothes are constantly exposed to your smoke and the smoke of others, fortunately, there are some great tips and tricks you can try to keep your clothes and home smelling fresh.

Check Labels

Before you even think of tossing your clothing in the wash, make sure you check the labels, which will list the cleaning instructions. Any type of clothing that has the words “dry clean only” must be dry cleaned. You can purchase a home dry cleaning kit, which will work to refresh your favorite clothing, you can have it dry cleaned by a professional, or you can try leaving it outdoors in the fresh air to try and remedy the issue.

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If the label says that the article of clothing must be hand-washed, then you’ll need to soak the clothing first in baking soda and vinegar before you wash it by hand, in order to get the smoke smell out.

If the item in question cannot be washed then you can try buying a fabric refreshing spray. Most formulas are designed to trap the odors, capturing the odor molecules and suspending them until the fabric can be cleaned appropriately.

Some supplies you may need includes:

  • Fabric refresher
  • Water
  • Laundry detergent-unscented
  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda

Getting Started

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If you have clothes that are machine washable and are smoky because they were exposed to smoke for a short period of time, then the following methods can do wonders. However, if the clothing was exposed for an extended period of time, then you may need to repeat the treatments.

Take the Clothing Outdoors

Try hanging the clothing outside allowing the fresh air to work its magic. If you’re not able to hang the clothing outside, you can also try hanging it in a room filled with plants, which can work to absorb odors. You can also use a fan to circulate the air. The amount of time you’ll need to leave the clothing hanging will be dependent on how saturated it is with smoke, not to mention how sensitive you are to odors. It may take just a few hours to get rid of the smell, or it can take as long as a week.974

Water and Baking Soda

To get rid of stale cigar smoke, try soaking the clothing in a washing machine or sink that’s filled with one cup of baking soda and some warm water before you wash. I recommend allowing it to soak overnight.

Washing Machine

After the clothing has had time to soak, you should then follow the care instructions on the clothing and wash the clothing accordingly, using an unscented detergent. Next, add one cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle, pausing the washing cycle. Allow the clothing to soak for one hour in the vinegar and water before you hit the start button and allow the rinse cycle to commence. If you have to hand wash the clothing, then make sure you follow the usual cleaning routine, but add some vinegar to the garment before you rinse.

Drying Outdoors

Dry your clothing on a clothes rack or on a clothesline in the sun. If you have to dry your clothes in the dryer, set it on a lower temperature since a higher heat can cause some of the remaining odor molecules to bond with the fibers in the clothing.

When you hang clothes out in the sunshine, the UV rays can help to remove smells and lingering odors. Bright sunlight can cause some clothing to fade, so make sure you hang dark-colored clothing in the shade. When you line dry your clothing it also gives your clothes another opportunity to air out.

Fabric Fresheners

If you can still smell a lingering odor, then the next step is to use your fabric refresher. You can choose an unscented formula or a scented one in order to mask those lingering odors. Some will come as wash style formulas or they can be sprays that work by binding to the odor molecules. If you have a spray, make sure you spray the clothing down outside, then leave it outside for an hour to allow some of the scent to dissipate.

Containing the Odor

If you have clothes that seem to be hanging onto odor, then never store them away long-term. On a temporary basis, you can place them in a sealed box in order to contain the odor and prevent it from affecting the rest of your clothing or furniture. The garment should be placed in a large plastic bag or sealed plastic tub with an open box of baking soda. The container should remain sealed for up to one week as the baking soda works to absorb the odors.

Furniture and Carpet

If you find yourself smoking indoors often, then it can be almost impossible to remove the smell of cigar smoke from your furniture and carpet. But if the exposure to smoke was brief, then its totally possible. If you’ve had an indoor smoker over for a visit, then the first step is to empty any cigar ashtrays and take out the garbage immediately.

Next, open up all the windows in the home, switch on the ceiling fans, and allow the fresh air in. Try placing a bowl filled with white vinegar in the affected room or rooms. If there is anything washable in the room, such as throw blankets, pillows, throw rugs, and curtains, toss them in the washer if they’re washing machine safe.974

Carpet Care

If you have guests who don’t know how to ash a cigar and you’re trying to get the unwanted odors and old ash out of your carpet, then you can try using dry, plain baking soda on large area rugs and carpets. Allow the baking soda to remain sprinkled on the carpet for one to two hours before you vacuum it up. Make sure you empty out the vacuum canister or toss out the vacuum bag after you’ve cleaned. For the most part, it should only take you one treatment to get the smell out, but if the carpet was exposed to cigar smoke over a period of days, then you’ll probably need to repeat the treatment. With an additional treatment, you can try using a commercial product that contains activated charcoal.

Why Odor Can be Difficult to Remove

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The residual ash particles and oils that are released into the air is what causes odor. So whether you’re smoking indoors or frying up a steak, as long as the particles remain trapped in the fibers of clothing, they’re going to emit an odor.

As you can see, there are plenty of home remedies for clothing that can help with the smell. But some treatment options can be a little out there. You’ll find no shortage of treatment options to choose from that range from mouthwash to olive oil. Some people even recommend soaking your clothing in a mixture of vodka and water. But some of these remedies can do more harm than good and may even end up ruining clothing.

Heavy-Duty Odors

Emergency restoration companies will often rely on an ozone chamber to remove odors, which works to loosen ash and break down odors by assaulting the affected materials using O3, which isn’t exactly practical for freshening up your favorite coat. While you may be frustrated if you’re not able to get the smell out, don’t throw the clothing away. Before cleaning your clothes, furniture, or carpet, just know that an extra step in the cleaning process is often needed.

If you’ve tried soaking your clothing, washing it according to care instructions, and allowed it to air dry and still an odor lingers, then I recommend the following steps:

First, begin by hanging your shirt outdoors in the shade. Brush the clothing thoroughly in order to help loosen any smoke particles that have become trapped in the fibers.

Next, use a steamer and steam the front and back of the clothing, then hang it outdoors for one hour before steaming it again. When you hang it outside this time, allow it to remain outside all day. Once you bring the clothing in you should notice at least a major change in the smell. If this still doesn’t work, then your next step should be to take your clothing to a professional dry cleaner.

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to remove cigar smell from your clothes and the work that’s involved, you’ll probably want to spend some extra care to prevent it from happening again. Simple things such as using a cigar humidor such as the Prestige Import Group humidor, instead of storing your cigars in your shirt pocket, smoking outdoors, and washing your clothing in a timely manner can all help to cut down on the smell of smoke in your home. Of course, if you’re a smoker, then it can be incredibly tricky to protect your clothing from the smell of smoke. I recommend wearing the same sweater or jacket, each time you smoke. This can be worn to protect the clothing underneath from the smell of smoke, and will also prevent all of your jackets and sweaters from smelling like smoke in the future.