Fabrics are a good place to start when cleaning smoke odor from your home. Cleaning cigarette smoke odor from fabric is impacted by a number of different variables, so a few techniques are needed.

All machine washable fabric items in your home should be machine washed using the process outlined in this page.  This is an easy step, and because of this I recommend making it both the first and last step you take.  Throughout the cleaning process odors from uncleaned spaces may continue to be absorbed by items you’ve already cleaned. Cleaning fabric early will eliminate a major source of the odors, but a second cleaning at the end will eliminate any odors they have absorbed while you finished the cleaning. Cleaning cigarette smoke odor from fabric is often going to take a few passes to be fully effective.

With all fabrics, you may want to consider professional cleaning as well.  Such services are often inexpensive but much more thorough.  Prices do vary by region a lot, so check a phone book or online for local laundry services.  Call around to a few for price quotes. If the price range feels comfortable to you, be sure to use angieslist.com or other online review services to make sure they have a good track record before making your final decision.

General fabric cleaning strategy


bulk vinegar
Vinegar is your best friend when removing smoke odor from clothes.  Simply add 1/4 cup of vinegar to each load at the start for powerful odor absorption.  The vinegar will not only knock odors out of the clothes, it can help breakup soap residue which leads to fading colors over time, and naturally soften them as well. Catch the washing machine as the rinse cycle starts, and add in a second ¼ cut of vinegar.  Let it soak for about 30 minutes before starting it back up and letting the rinse cycle finish.  This is the optimal time to let the vinegar really penetrate and work it’s magic.

Hot Water

Check all labels carefully, and wash everything on as hot a setting as it allows. This will maximize the amount of tar and odor released from the fabric.


Pre-soaking the fabrics first will also help. Soak the clothes in a mixture of warm water and a cup of baking soda in a sink or right in the washing machine overnight prior to the cleaning.  In the morning drain and rinse the clothes, and then wash as normal.

Line Dry

Dry things outdoors in the sun when possible.  The ultraviolet light from the sun actually help to disinfect and deodorize, on top of them being outside allowing any odors to dissipate much more easily.

Make it long term

Work aspects of this into your routine, and try to think of them as a new norm rather than something you are doing as part of the cleaning process. This is especially true if anyone in the home is continuing to smoke at all, as their clothing will become the primary source of smoke odor entering your home.

De scent

While you are at it, consider switching to an unscented laundry soap and fabric softener.  This helps eliminate other odors from the clothes and from your home in general.


Start with clothing.  Wash all of the clothing in your home as you normally would, making sure to include vinegar.  Dry the clothing outdoors in the sun if possible. If you don’t have access to a clothesline or it’s not reasonably possible, dry them on low heat to avoid locking in any new odors.  It goes without saying that if you are drying them outdoors, make sure you aren’t drying them near anyone smoking.   Be sure to find and wash all clothes in your home, including anything you may have in storage such as unseasonable clothes or that stash of ugly Christmas sweaters. If you have any clothes you don’t use anymore, now is a good time to get rid of them and simply eliminate the source of smoke odor completely.  Try selling them on ebay.com, or swing by your local Goodwill donation site.


Using the same advice for clothing, address bedding.  Wash all sheets, blankets, and pillow cases you have which are machine washable.  Wash not only bedding in use, but any you have in storage.  It’s easy to overload the washing machine when cleaning bedding, so don’t be afraid of doing more smaller loads.  Make sure you include ¼ cup of vinegar with each and dry them on low hear. Remember, cleaning cigarette smoke odor from fabric is often going to take a few passes to be fully effective.


Pillows are particularly difficult to clean. The easiest route forward is simply to get rid of all pillows and replace them. Generic pillows are relatively cheap, making this an affordable place to simply eliminate and replace a very hard to clean item.

Fabric Toys and Stuffed Animals

Identify any fabrics toys or stuffed animals, and look at their tags for information on cleaning.  Any that are machine washable should be washed using the same process.  Any which aren’t machine washable should be wiped down with a wet cloth, and are very strong candidates to be isolated in a tote with odor absorbing materials as discussed in our Odor Absorption Techniques article.  Also be sure to list any non-machine-washable toys on your list, and keep them in mind if you use a steam cleaner at any point in your cleaning process.

Window Coverings

Also read tags on curtains and fabric window coverings, and machine wash whatever you can.  Any which cannot be machine washed are also strong candidates for steam cleaning, or even replacing.  Drape cleaning services can be very helpful in this area.  Prices can vary a lot by region as well as by the number of drapes to be cleaned, but an average home can be expected to cost around $200.

Hand Wash

Identify any other fabrics in your home and machine wash if you can.  If you are unsure if they are machine washable, it’s safest to hand wash them, but be sure to check online or possibly even contact the manufacturer to clarify if the item is machine washable.

You may have fabric items in your home which aren’t machine cleanable.  This includes things such fabric as part of decorations or wall hangings, toys or stuff animals which contain electronics, or clothing which is simply delicate. With any of these items, you should hand wash them with soapy water.  If possible, steam clean them as well.  Once dry, let them air out as much as possible.

Wash and Wash Again

Don’t forget that this process is about reduction with each step.  Following these steps should go along way to remove cigarette smoke odor from your fabrics, but it may take more than one round to get it to a really good point. On top of this, fabrics are going to re-absorb odors from your home quickly, which really make it an uphill battle through the cleaning process.  Be vigilant with fabrics!