Whether you experienced a home fire, attended a smoky bonfire with friends, or recently spent some time with heavy smokers, chances are your clothes have been impacted in some way. If you care about these smoke-damaged clothes, you’ll likely want to remove any smoky odors to salvage them. The good news is that as long as any articles of clothing haven’t been burned or charred, there’s a very good chance they can be properly restored. 

But you can’t just wash them like any other piece of clothing. Here are a few steps you’ll need to take to properly clean smoke-damaged clothing for the best results.

Sort What’s Salvageable from What’s Not

The first thing you’ll want to do is sort what items can be saved from those that cannot. Generally, any article of clothing or textile that has been burned or charred cannot be salvaged. Everything else can usually be saved if it is cleaned appropriately.

Remove Soot

The next thing you’ll want to do is remove soot from any salvageable clothing items. You can do this in a few different ways. Perhaps the easiest way is to take the clothing outside and shake items off one by one. Another thing you can do is use a vacuum to remove the soot and ash.


This step is often best left to the professionals. Deodorization is crucial to destroying smoke molecules on the surface of clothing. But simply taking a can of Febreeze or some other spray-on deodorizer isn’t likely to get the job done on smoke-damaged clothing. 

Spray-on deodorizers only temporarily mask the odor but they don’t eliminate it permanently. That’s where something like ozone treatment becomes necessary, and it’s often not a “do it yourself” task. Another option is to soak clothes overnight in bleach, water, and trisodium phosphate mix.

Dry Clean

After the clothing is free of soot or ash and properly deodorized, it then needs to be properly washed and dried. Again, this is a step best left to the professionals to ensure the right detergent is used and other processes are followed. It’s suggested that those who want to hand wash their own smoke-damaged clothes do this two to three times thoroughly to eliminate soot and ash before machine washing them. 

When it’s time to machine wash, use a heavy detergent. If you want to ensure your clothes are properly restored to pre-smoke condition, consider taking any affected clothes to a dry cleaner that specializes in such.

Other Tips for Cleaning Smoke-Damaged Clothing

Restoring smoke-damaged clothing to their original condition is as much about science as it is about the process. Arguably the most important aspect of the process is eliminating the smoke odor from the fabric. If this step isn’t performed correctly and the clothes are washed and dried, your clothes could be permanently damaged. That’s why it can make sense to work with a dry cleaner that specializes in removing smoke odors from clothing. Rather than playing a guessing game by doing it yourself, you can trust your clothes to the experts.For more information about dry cleaning clothing, the professionals at Rema Dri Vac are here to help!

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