Removing smoke odor from clothing

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
Caduceus
Posts: 2133
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:47 am

Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by Caduceus » Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:39 pm

I inherited an antique piece of clothing that I'd like to keep. The thing is, it has a fairly intense smoky smell coming from it. It's had a fairly interesting history, passing from one place of disrepute to another. I think it was housed in a brothel for a while, and then in a gambling house, so it makes sense that it smells of decades of smoke. I really love it but it just made the entire apartment stink and my boyfriend is upset. I do feel bad about it, but unfortunately, I can't wash it because of how fragile it is.

Any ideas please? It's now sitting in an airtight box with a box load of baking soda. But I don't know if that's going to do anything.

TallBoy29er
Posts: 814
Joined: Thu Jul 18, 2013 9:06 pm

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by TallBoy29er » Thu Oct 03, 2019 7:34 pm

That's super cool. Time is going to be your friend on this one, based on what I've read. Tell your BF to stop getting his panties in a wad, and instead man-up and help. Or maybe you keep the furniture, and return the BF. :P :shock: :P

https://www.doityourself.com/stry/cigar ... -furniture

http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/how-to-r ... furniture/

User avatar
GMCZ71
Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:05 am
Location: McMinnville, Or

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by GMCZ71 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 7:37 pm

I would try charcoal briquettes, no match lite or other ingredients. Google charcoal briquettes odor removal.
John

User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 7114
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by whodidntante » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:08 pm

Hydroxypropyl beta-cyclodextrin might work. Especially if followed with a gentle hand washing. Or you could start smoking so it's less noticeable.

User avatar
Steelersfan
Posts: 3767
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 8:47 pm

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by Steelersfan » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:40 pm

I'm a smoker but want to get rid of smoke odor from my condo and car. This works well for me, if you're willing to spend a few bucks:

https://www.amazon.com/Enerzen-Commerci ... B00JAP7388

Put it in an enclosed space for 10 hours or so.

User avatar
telemark
Posts: 2571
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:35 am

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by telemark » Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:59 pm

NonScents (https://nonscents.com/) has a whole line of odor eliminating products. Rather than masking one smell with another, they focus on breaking down the molecules that cause the original odor. I've been using their shoe deodorizer in my running shoes, with great success. I can't recommend any product specifically because I haven't tried them on smoke odors, but you might be able to find something useful there.

In general, cigarette smoke smells are hard to get rid of because the tar from the smoke deposits itself on all available surfaces.

P.S. My first thought was also an ozone generator, but I wonder if something that old might take damage from it.

User avatar
Sandtrap
Posts: 8656
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2016 6:32 pm
Location: Hawaii No Ka Oi , N. Arizona

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:30 pm

Scent Eliminator Clothing Wash from Sportsmans Warehouse.
https://www.sportsmans.com/hunting-gear ... sh/p/p4810
Add a couple capfuls with regular laundry detergent and if the scent can come out it will. If this doesn't remove the scent after several washings, nothing will, short of bleach.

I have chemical and smell sensitivities. We have been using this for many years and it is the only product that works. Except for bleach which is great but ruins clothes.

Smoke odor is very very difficult if not often impossible to remove from clothes and possessions. One of the worse short of "Axe" and other modern "body spray" colognes.

j
Wiki Bogleheads Wiki: Everything You Need to Know

User avatar
whodidntante
Posts: 7114
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2016 11:11 pm
Location: outside the echo chamber

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by whodidntante » Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:47 pm

telemark wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:59 pm
NonScents (https://nonscents.com/) has a whole line of odor eliminating products.
What is the active ingredient?

random_walker_77
Posts: 854
Joined: Tue May 21, 2013 8:49 pm

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by random_walker_77 » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:19 pm

To contain the odor, you can keep it in a bag with activated carbon (4 ft roll of activated carbon filter goes for about $10)

To actually get rid of the odor, ozone is good at breaking things down and ought to work. The link from Steelersfan above is certainly heavy-duty. Just remember, you don't want to actually breath any ozone. Also, I'm not sure if that'd damage the cloth, given how old it is. Smaller & cheaper units are also available on ebay, but I don't know how well they work (nor how safe they are).

User avatar
LittleGreenSoldiers
Posts: 133
Joined: Fri Nov 14, 2014 6:59 pm

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by LittleGreenSoldiers » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:34 pm

Is the item valuable?
I'm by no means an expert in this area.

If it's a valuable item or you want or want to preserve it in your family for generations here are a few thoughts.
You might want to talk to someone with expertise in preserving fabrics. Light, air and moisture are probably your biggest concerns. If the smoke odor of it's self is not damaging to the item I would think that preserving the item in a way to retain some of it's historical aroma could be a good thing.

Just my thoughts. I'm not an expert.

User avatar
telemark
Posts: 2571
Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:35 am

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by telemark » Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 pm

whodidntante wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 9:47 pm
telemark wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 8:59 pm
NonScents (https://nonscents.com/) has a whole line of odor eliminating products.
What is the active ingredient?
I don't know, and my knowledge of chemistry is minimal at best. Perhaps you can glean something from their web site? Speaking as a customer, I find that the product has no discernable odor, and neither do my formerly stinky running shoes.

Topic Author
Caduceus
Posts: 2133
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:47 am

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by Caduceus » Fri Oct 04, 2019 3:55 am

Thanks for the suggestions. I can't use ozone because ozone will damage fabrics and dyes. I'd like to preserve as much of the original colors as possible. I've tried using an absorene eraser soot sponge to lightly clean the worst areas, and it has picked up A LOT of black smoke, even from areas that look relatively white and clean, but I do not dare to use it on the entire fabric as the rubbing action, no matter how gentle I am, is mildly abrasive.

I will try the zeolite suggestion.
LittleGreenSoldiers wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:34 pm
Is the item valuable?
I'm by no means an expert in this area.

If it's a valuable item or you want or want to preserve it in your family for generations here are a few thoughts.
You might want to talk to someone with expertise in preserving fabrics. Light, air and moisture are probably your biggest concerns. If the smoke odor of it's self is not damaging to the item I would think that preserving the item in a way to retain some of it's historical aroma could be a good thing.

Just my thoughts. I'm not an expert.
Yes, it is extremely valuable. It is kinda cool to retain some of the smoke smell, but my primary concern is preserving the integrity of the item, and all the pollutants and odors aren't good for the fabric. I've aired it under a strong fan for a week now and then put it in a box with a tub of baking soda near it for now.

User avatar
F150HD
Posts: 2561
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:49 pm

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by F150HD » Fri Oct 04, 2019 5:32 am

The odor is part of the antique. If you don't appreciate it, you should give it to someone who does.

To take an item w/ stated history and alter it....is erasing its history. Sad.
Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.

Mr. Rumples
Posts: 419
Joined: Sun Aug 25, 2019 7:16 am

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by Mr. Rumples » Fri Oct 04, 2019 6:33 am

You risk destroying the item no matter what you do. It really depends on the risk you are willing to take. The first thing to determine is what the material is.

You may want to contact a local museum which has clothing artifacts to see if they have suggestions or can recommend someone.

A dry cleaner might be able to help, but won't guarantee it most likely. They have no way to know what it was exposed to in the past, particularly UV rays/sunlight which can destroy fabric but which doesn't show up until its cleaned. We had a handmade lace tablecloth which we used for years and seemed strong, yet just soaking it in warm water caused some threads to dissolve.

https://www.dlionline.org/blog?bid=8&Bl ... FormID=300

Topic Author
Caduceus
Posts: 2133
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:47 am

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by Caduceus » Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:00 am

F150HD wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 5:32 am
The odor is part of the antique. If you don't appreciate it, you should give it to someone who does.

To take an item w/ stated history and alter it....is erasing its history. Sad.
I can understand where you're coming from, but I think you're wrong in this case. Although the odor is certainly part of the object's history, the smell cannot be preserved for two reasons. First, the odor will naturally dissipate over time. It's not something stable that can be preserved. This might take place from anywhere between 1.5 - 10 years, but it will happen, as a matter of certainty, once it has been removed from a smoky environment. Given this fact, the second consideration comes into play, which is that cigarette smoke and its deposits are extremely aggressive deteriorating agents of historical textiles. Therefore, most conservators will mitigate its effects by removing as much of it as possible if the fabric is able to undergo treatment. There is a significant cost but no benefit in allowing the artifact to degrade when the smell will eventually dissipate.

What I'm trying to do is accelerate an outcome that will eventually happen, in order to preserve the item. It's unfortunate it cannot be washed, which makes life difficult.

inbox788
Posts: 6697
Joined: Thu Mar 15, 2012 5:24 pm

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by inbox788 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 7:58 am

Caduceus wrote:
Thu Oct 03, 2019 6:39 pm
It's now sitting in an airtight box with a box load of baking soda. But I don't know if that's going to do anything.
If the box is air tight, you shouldn’t be smelling it. As someone said, air, light and moisture are concerns because they will likely break down the odor as much as the fabric. If that wasn’t a concern, you could hang it outside in the sun to air out. Leaving it inside a container and indoors just slows down the natural odor removal and breakdown. The best you can do to keep the odor out of your apartment is to contain it and vent air outdoors. You need an enclosed garment rack or box connected to some tubing and fan outdoors similar to a portable air conditioner or clothes dryer. Continuous fresh air will slowly remove odors with minimal damage risk. I don’t think baking soda or charcoal is going to do much good in a box unless you change it very frequently.

bob60014
Posts: 1298
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:59 pm
Location: The Land Beyond ORD

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by bob60014 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:03 am

Have you contacted a museum or textile conservator for guidance?

f35phixer
Posts: 98
Joined: Wed Feb 18, 2015 12:41 pm

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by f35phixer » Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:02 am

would to see a picture of this item !!!!!!!!!

GrowthSeeker
Posts: 792
Joined: Tue May 15, 2018 10:14 pm

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by GrowthSeeker » Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:46 am

+1 for activated charcoal.
You can fill little porous bags (like the ones used for pot pourri) with the activated charcoal, tie the little string and this keeps most (but not all) of the bits of charcoal from getting all over the place.
Several of these with the garment in an airtight container, and the baking soda should help a lot, but it will be slow.
After some period of time, you might need to change to a fresh supply of activated charcoal and baking soda.

+1 for asking museum experts.

I wouldn't trust a dry cleaner.

Don't use things that are just other smells that "cover up" the smell.
Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're NOT out to get you.

California88
Posts: 50
Joined: Sun Feb 03, 2019 12:08 pm

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by California88 » Fri Oct 04, 2019 12:00 pm

It needs to be cleaned by professional ... call Textile Museum (or any Museum) ... they'll know.

Topic Author
Caduceus
Posts: 2133
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:47 am

Re: Removing smoke odor from clothing

Post by Caduceus » Sun Oct 13, 2019 4:43 am

GrowthSeeker wrote:
Fri Oct 04, 2019 11:46 am
+1 for activated charcoal.
You can fill little porous bags (like the ones used for pot pourri) with the activated charcoal, tie the little string and this keeps most (but not all) of the bits of charcoal from getting all over the place.
Several of these with the garment in an airtight container, and the baking soda should help a lot, but it will be slow.
After some period of time, you might need to change to a fresh supply of activated charcoal and baking soda.

+1 for asking museum experts.

I wouldn't trust a dry cleaner.

Don't use things that are just other smells that "cover up" the smell.
Thanks. I've added some activated charcoal (wow, these bags on Amazon are expensive!) together with baking soda and the garment in the container. Hopefully it works.

The thing about asking conservators is that the cost is really expensive just for consultation. They want to charge $200 just for the initial examination (no actual conservation work done), and I have to ship it to them, and given the nature of the item, the shipping cost and packing materials adds up to hundreds of dollars. So that's like $400 thereabouts just to get an opinion and I'm guessing they will want a lot more to clean the item. I wish there were pro bono consultation services by museum people for normal folks like us who can't afford to pay so much. (I don't mean free cleaning, but just some help in terms of what I can do on my own)

Post Reply