I have kids. I have friends that have older kids. Sometimes, these friends kindly donate nice clothes for my kids to use. I am very thankful for that.

But, at least one specific friend has/had a habit of smoking, a lot, even indoors, and so the (otherwise excellent) clothes reek of old cigarettes -- so much so that, when left to air out in a room, I can't breathe in that room. Apart from that, I'm concerned about giving my children clothes with nasty residue in them.

I obviously tried washing them, but it's far from sufficient, and some articles can only be washed at 30*C.

Do I have any recourse to throwing out these clothes? What is a more effective way to get rid of tobacco smell than simple airing out?

  • What have you tried so far beyond "airing out?" How have you washed these items that has not worked?
    – Allison C
    Jan 3, 2020 at 20:15
  • Washed as per washing instructions, also tried soaking in soapy water for over a day.
    – KlaymenDK
    Jan 3, 2020 at 20:19
  • Thanks for the added information. What detergents/soaps have you tried, and have you tried any additives?
    – Allison C
    Jan 3, 2020 at 20:22
  • 1
    I'd leave them to hang for a long time in a well ventilated space, or wash them repeatedly. I'd also maybe have a word with my heavy smoking friend that maybe he shouldn't smoke so much indoors around the kids; he's doing a massive amount of damage to their health and as a smoker himself will be so desensitized to how polluted the room/his clothing is he might not even be aware
    – Caius Jard
    Jan 3, 2020 at 20:41
  • Agree - repeated washing and airing out... if he can't give up or smoke outdoors instead, advise your friend to roll his own cigarettes using cigarette papers without saltpetre in them - its the saltpetre in ordinary cigarettes that encourages the smelly tar to penetrate fabrics and stay there, so the smell is a combination of tar and saltpetre, not nicotine. Doesn't happen if you roll your own....
    – Bamboo
    Jan 4, 2020 at 15:21

2 Answers 2


I found a solution, not for cigarette smoke smell, but for those times when you forget to take your wash out of the machine and it ends up smelling yuck...You can wash it immediately again with laundry detergent etc. and that smell will not come out. However, I found if I use my regular detergent along with a cup of baking soda sprinkled in side the machine with the smelly laundry, and also use vinegar in place of my fabric softener, my clothes no longer have the smell, at all. this technique also works for pet odors and such. Perhaps you could try doing this. Also, hanging the clothes out to dry in the sun will also help eliminate odors.


If you have a tub (any big container will also do) make it a bit less than half full with water, soak the clothes in it (not too many at a time, leave plenty of empty room in the container), pour in half a cup baking soda and a cup of vinegar and mix it. It will immediately form a reaction and kill microorganisms in the process (like bacteria and such). The bad smell should also go away. Leave it for an hour or so, then wash the clothes normaly.

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