Tips for removing the smell of smoke from the air and clothes

Tips for removing the smell of smoke from the air and clothes

‘Smoke gets in your eyes’ sounds almost benign, even romantic, in the famous song. But in reality, there’s nothing at all appealing about the stale smell of smoke in your house or on your clothes.

Tips for removing the smell of smoke from the air and clothes
Tips for removing the smell of smoke from the air and clothes

1. To remove smoke odour from clothing

  • Whether it’s from a fire or cigarettes, hang the clothes outside in the sun. Sunlight will break down the smoke molecules, and fresh air is great for the fabric.
  • You may want to attach a fan to an extension cord and allow the fan to force air across the clothes.
  • Check the clothing every 2 hours and leave it outside until the smell dissipates. You’ll have more effective results in the wash — your next step.

2. To wash smoky clothes

  • First pre-soak the garment in a sink filled with 175 ml (3/4 cup) of baking soda and 20 litres (5 gallons) of water.
  • Then place the garment directly into the washing machine, using a laundry detergent with oxygen bleach. These detergents remove the odour, not merely mask it with a perfume.
  • Wash contaminated clothing separately from your general family laundry.
  • After washing, hang the clothes to dry. Avoid using a dryer — the heat can set the smoke odour into any fabric from which it hasn’t been completely removed.
  • Neutralize any residual smoke odour with a deodorizer.
  • If the clothing label says ‘Dry-clean only’, that’s what you should do, and make sure the dry cleaner specializes in smoke removal.
  • Your dry cleaner will appreciate you airing the clothing first.

3. To remove protein-generated smoke

  • Getting rid of the smoky smell from cooking ham or chicken, for instance — can be more difficult because these items produce heavy, greasy smoke that fabric readily absorbs. (Wood smoke tends to be flaky and easier to clean.)
  • Air clothing affected by protein smoke on a hanger outside, maybe for a day or two if necessary.
  • Then, before you wash the garment, soak it in an oxygen-based, pre-wash soaker.

4. To remove just a little smoke

This could be from a small area in your home, such as a chest of drawers, and is an easy task. Either use bicarbonate of soda, cedar blocks or even a bowl of sliced apples to absorb the odour. Close up or seal off the area first.

5. If smoke has penetrated a large part of your home

  • You will have an extensive clean-up job on your hands involving a variety of materials that require different cleaning techniques.
  • Your safest bet, to ensure a successful clean, is to contact your insurance company and get some professional cleaners in to do the job.

6. To clean smoke from walls and ceilings

  • First vacuum up any visible smoke residue.
  • Then dilute a special heavy-duty cleaner and degreaser recommended for smoke removal, according to the package instructions.
  • Fill a spray bottle with the cleaner.
  • Spray and wipe one section of the wall or ceiling at a time, using a clean cloth.
  • For walls, start from the bottom and work your way up to avoid streaking. You may have to repeat the process several times.
  • Oil-based paint will hold up well to washing. However, acrylic paint can wear off if you scrub aggressively or wash too many times.
  • You can also try a sugar soap solution.

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