Table of Contents
- Soaking Clothes To Reduce Wood Stove Smoke Smells[+]
- Using The Washing Machine Without Pre-Soaking[+]
- Wood Smoke Solutions Without A Washing Machine[+]
- Is The Smell Persisting?
- Is Smoke Coming From Your Wood Stove?
Now and then, I open the door of my wood stove too quickly and a waft of smoke permeates my clothes.
I’ve tried several solutions to get rid of that wood smoke smell from my tops and jeans. This article has step-by-step instructions for the best methods.
My top recommendation is to pre-soak the clothes for several hours before using a full cycle of the washing machine.
If you don’t have the time or don’t have a washing machine, I’ve got several more solutions to fit your situation.
Soaking Clothes To Reduce Wood Stove Smoke Smells
If you have a washing machine, I still recommend that you pre-soak your clothes with a deodorizing ingredient.
Two of the best deodorizers for that wood smoke smell are baking soda and white vinegar.
You can use one or the other. Not everybody keeps baking soda in the house, but vinegar will do just fine.
General advice for soaking
My general advice is to separate your whites and colors i.e., don’t soak them together.
The clothes should be completely immersed in the water and thoroughly saturated.
Your sink or a washing-up basin can usually hold enough water to soak a pair of jeans. But if you’re washing a large coat, you may need to use your bath.
If you do use your bath to soak several bulky garments, then double or triple the deodorizing ingredients we mention below.
Some people have sensitive skin that is irritated by baking soda. I advise that you use rubber gloves, so you don’t suddenly find out that you’re one of those people!
Soaking with vinegar or baking soda
- Fill a bucket or your sink with warm water
- Add one cup of vinegar or one cup of baking soda
- Mix thoroughly with the water
- swish your (gloved) hand around the water to mix properly
- If you’re using baking soda, keep mixing until it’s all dissolved
- Immerse the clothing completely.
- Scrunch and stretch the garment to saturate it completely
- Leave to soak for two hours (one if you’re in a hurry)
- Remove and wring out your clothes
- Run a full cycle of your washing machine
When you are using the washing machine, I recommend that you use the highest temperature that is appropriate for your clothes (check the labels).
The hotter water expands the fibers and releases more of the odor.
Using The Washing Machine Without Pre-Soaking
If you don’t have the time or inclination to pre-soak your clothes for a couple of hours, then here are some tips to help the usual washing machine cycle.
We’ve already mentioned baking soda and vinegar as great deodorizers. Lemon juice also works. These can be used directly in your machine.
Prepare your deodorizing agent
I would use half a cup of vinegar or a full cup of baking soda when I have a full load.
Lemon juice is another ingredient that deodorizes. You’ll need to squeeze about three lemons to get a half cup of juice.
If you’ve only got a few garments that have that wood smoke smell, then you can reduce these amounts.
When and where to add the deodorizer
Don’t put baking soda into the detergent dispensers. That can result in blocking your dispenser, which is a headache.
If you have a top-loading machine, you can add the deodorizer during the rinse cycle when the washer is nearly full of water.
I currently have a front-loading machine. I pour the deodorizer into the drum before loading the clothes. Then I add the usual detergent and start the wash.
To help the environment, I usually wash my clothes at the lowest possible temperature that still keeps them clean and fresh.
However, I make an exception for clothes with the wood stove smell. It’s best to wash these clothes at the highest temperature recommended on their label.
As I mentioned in the section on pre-soaking, the extra heat expands the fibers in the clothing and better expels the odor.
Wood Smoke Solutions Without A Washing Machine
There are several solutions if you don’t have access to a washing machine.
I’m not going to say that these are as effective when there is a strong smoke smell from your clothes. However, they should work fine if the odor is more faint.
Using dryer sheets
You may never have heard of dryer sheets, but you can pick them up cheaply at supermarkets. You should also grab a box of baking soda and several large resealable plastic bags.
Here are the steps to remove the wood smoke smell with dryer sheets:
- Put two dry sheets into a plastic bag
- Add one of your smoke-smelling garments to the bag (or several if small items e.g. socks)
- Pour about thirty grams of baking soda into the bag
- Seal the bag
- Shake the bag in order to spread the baking powder
- Leave the bag sealed for two days
- Take the bag into the yard and open it
- Remove the garment and shake it vigorously to get rid of the baking soda
The main reason I don’t really like this method is the baking soda that stays sticking to the clothes. An optional final step is to use a vacuum cleaner on the garment.
However, you could try this process without baking soda. In other words, you’re relying on the dryer sheets to absorb the odor. This may not be successful with a strong smell.
Using a steam iron
Before you try this, check the clothing label to ensure that it can be steam ironed.
Running a steam iron over the garment can eliminate a fainter smoke smell.
You may get better results if you use a mixture of one part vinegar or rubbing alcohol with three parts of water.
Last resort: using a spray
I’ve put this as a last resort as it’s more likely to mask the wood smoke smell than remove it.
But if you’re late to a party and you want to wear your favorite pair of jeans, then this may prevent the people beside you from looking nervously around the room and muttering “where’s the fire”?
You can use a commercial fabric odor spray or you can make your own mixture.
If you have a spray bottle, mix water and white vinegar in a one-to-one ratio. A good optional extra is to add about twenty-five drops of lavender oil or another essential oil.
Is The Smell Persisting?
If you find that the smell of wood stove smoke is still in your clothes after washing, then here are some tips.
If you didn’t pre-soak or only left the clothes soaking for a couple of hours, go through the routine again. But this time, leave the clothes to soak overnight.
If the dryer sheets didn’t work, then you will probably get better results with a washing machine. Sorry, but a trip to the launderette may be necessary!
Finally, some smells will take repeated washing to eliminate. Usually, wood smoke will come out with a single wash.
But if the smell is from exposure to creosote, then you’re likely to need multiple cycles.
Not sure about the difference? Check out our article on what creosote smells like. That’ll make things clear.
We also have an article on getting rid of creosote smells from wood stoves.
Is Smoke Coming From Your Wood Stove?
If your wood stove is indoors, then it shouldn’t emit smoke into the room under normal conditions. There are several exceptions.
In the introduction, I mentioned that it’s my own fault. Opening the door too quickly on some models can send smoke puffing into the room (and over my clothes).
The other case when you needn’t worry is when you have a brand new stove. To understand more, we have an in-depth article on why smoke comes out of new wood stoves and how long this will last (it won’t be long!).
If your stove is not new and has started smoking for no apparent reason, you should get it checked out.