Minding The Details: Getting A Smoke Smell Out of Secondhand Clothes

MInding Details

My younger sister recently sold her house and moved into an apartment. When she was packing, she found a pair of black snow pants in a size 8 that used to belong to her stepson. They were in perfect condition, and The Boy will need size 8 pants next winter. Black is the perfect color to us, because it can be gender neutral, and we can then pass on his outgrown snow pants to both of his younger sisters.

The only problem: my sister is a heavy smoker, and smokes inside her house. The snow pants reeked of cigarette smoke. I tried washing with Tide and scented Downy, but the smell was still strong. I washed them a second time with vinegar, and that pesky smoke smell was still there.

I turned to the Facebook forum for the Non-Consumer Advocate blog and asked the experienced thrifters what they would do. Some suggested vinegar (tried and failed), several suggested that using fabric softener would make the smell more adherent (yikes!), a few suggested soaking in baking soda all day, then washing with Tide and vinegar, one suggested putting in a plastic bag with newspaper for a week, and quite a few recommended laying outside in the sun for a while.

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I ended up putting it in the washer on soak with a cup of baking soda. I left it in there all afternoon, then washed with Tide Free and a vinegar rinse. It was much decreased, but still had the tiniest tinge of a smell.

It is drizzling out today, but I laid it out on the deck to get some fresh air and hopefully get the last of the smoke stench out. After a few hours with Mother Nature- voila!- the smoke smell is 100% gone. Yes, it was damp, but it would have gotten damp in the washer anyway. I dried it in the drier and it is good to go. Snow pants at Target are usually about $20, and about $10 on Ebay or the kids’ consignment store, so this saved us at least $10.