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As the song says, “Smoke gets in your eyes.”
But it also really, really gets in your clothes and the pungent smell can be quite tricky to remove! Join us as we explore how you can remove the smell of smoke from your clothes and other fabrics.
The reason a campfire smell lingers so long on your clothing is down to the porous nature of most fabric. What we are still smelling are the smoke particles themselves that have actually lodged deep into the fabric fibres.
Not only do these particles emit their smokey smell continuously but they also contain small amounts of toxic chemicals which won’t do us much good if inhaled for a long time.
Whether you’re camping in the middle of nowhere, enjoying a firepit on your patio or warming yourself at the local Bonfire night, rest assured there are several ways to remove the smell and it doesn’t always involve the washing machine.
so, how do you remove the smell of smoke from clothes?
1. breath of fresh air.
Obviously we’re big fans of line drying here at smol but even when your clothes aren’t wet this is a great first method for a refresh. And airing smoky clothes outside will dramatically reduce the eau de campfire.
If the sun is out… so much the better. The heat and UV rays, along with the fresh air all help to remove the smell.
If you can leave your clothing to air for at least 12-24 hours you might find it completely solves the problem… but at the very least it will make removal much much easier with whichever extra method you decide to try.
2. hot wash.
Warmer washes are not something we usually push (read all about the merits of cooler temperature cycles here) but in the case of smoky clothing, cold water isn’t going to lift out the particles effectively enough… even with a modern detergent like smol.
Check the clothing care label to discover the hottest recommended wash temperature for your item and wash accordingly.
Because you’ll most probably be washing at above 40°C it doesn’t really matter if you use a non-bio or bio detergent as the higher temperatures are what will have the most impact. Washing at a higher temperature with a bio detergent effectively simply turns it into a non-bio.
3. vodka victory.
Interestingly, alcohol is great at deodorising (it’s an active ingredient in a lot of fragrance sprays). If you can mix 1 part vodka with 3 parts warm water in a clean spray bottle you can then spray the solution onto your smoky fabrics.
You might want to test the spray on an inconspicuous area of your clothing first and if there is no effect on the fabric you should be good to go.
As the alcohol evaporates, it should take the smoky smell with it. Time for a martini?
4. lemon love.
Another natural strong deodoriser is citric acid and you’ll find lots of that in lemons (or other citrus fruit like oranges and limes).
Mix 1 part lemon juice with 6 parts warm water in a spray bottle and spritz onto the smoky items both inside and outside. Again, you’ll probably want to test on a hidden area of the clothing first to check for any reactions with the fabric.
Leave the clothing to dry and repeat the lemon spray if necessary.
5. activated charcoal.Got an old sock? Got some activated charcoal? Then this method is for you.
Activated charcoal is not the same as regular charcoal because it has burned at a very high temperature to make it extremely porous. It’s even used in some toothpastes and skin care products. It absorbs smells by attracting and trapping the molecules onto its porous surface.
Fill a sock with the charcoal and tie the top tightly shut. Next pop both the sock and the smoky clothing in a paper bag or cardboard box. Seal everything up for 24 hours and wait for the charcoal to work its magic. Easy.
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