How do I get smoke out of suits?
September 29, 2008 12:43 PM   Subscribe

How do I get smoke smells out of men's wool suits--dry cleaning didn't work.

I recently received half a dozen very nice (and very expensive) men's suits, along with a full length wool Burberry coat from my uncle, who recently retired and moved to Florida. They fit perfectly, look fantastic, but they reek of smoke. I've tried hanging them out in the sun, sprayed them with Febreze extra strength, and they have all been dry cleaned. Does anyone have any further ideas before I gamble and throw them in the washing machine? I love the suits, and could not afford anything like them on my own, but the smoke smell icks me out.
posted by midwestguy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total)
how long did you leave them in the sun? Might take a little while.

I have a jacket that was left behind when a bar shut down. It had been left there for over a year. The bar was famous for being the kind of place that your clothes would reek just from being inside for a minute or two, even after washing your clothes.

Anyway, after a couple washings, and leaving it outside for three days straight, the smell faded.
posted by notsnot at 12:53 PM on September 29, 2008

Please do not throw them in the washing machine! Or, more precisely, you can gently hand-wash 100% wool and 100% silk garments, then lay them flat to dry (I like to do this on my spare bed). Heat and agitation are the death of wool. It would help to know the fabric content more precisely.
posted by muddgirl at 12:55 PM on September 29, 2008

Seconding airing your clothes outside for a longer time. I've had to do this several times for various smells (mothball odors, smoke, etc), and it's been surprisingly successful.

I haven't made it a point to hang my clothes in the sun - I don't think that matters and sunshine can fade colors. Fresh air has worked wonders for me, and as notsnot says, it could take a few days. Be sure to gently brush off or shake out your suits after half or a whole day just to knock off leaves or other outdoor visitors. Good luck!
posted by lucyleaf at 1:08 PM on September 29, 2008

I have a trick that works great with old musty smelling books. I take the books, wrap them well in paper towels, and bury them in kitty litter on a high shelf. A few days later they smell great. Litter absorbs moisture and odor.

You could try something like this. Put down a sheet, clothes on top, lay another sheet, cover with a layer of litter. Leave for a couple days.

Obviously keep any cats far away. Test with a smaller item first.
posted by cjorgensen at 1:15 PM on September 29, 2008

Does anyone have any further ideas before I gamble and throw them in the washing machine?

you might as well burn them, don't be an asshole, they'll fall apart 100%.

air them out carefully, for a long time every day (just be careful not to get them wet, rain will kill them). don't use any more Seebreeze.

if the smell stays, and they're really high-quality, sell them all on eBay, and get yourself a new, non-smelling, Brooks Brothers suit from the outlets.

please don't fucking throw them in the washing machine, they're suits, not t-shirts
posted by matteo at 1:19 PM on September 29, 2008 [1 favorite]

Take them back to the dry cleaners. The chemicals used in dry cleaning should have neutralized the smoke. My guess is the cleaner didn't "clean" them he may have just steam cleaned and pressed them.
posted by Gungho at 1:34 PM on September 29, 2008

The dry cleaning process is designed to remove those type of ordors. Either take them back or to another better cleaner who will do the process correctly.
posted by bjgeiger at 3:35 PM on September 29, 2008

Today my exterminator gave me an EarthCare Odor Remover bag. In under 8 hours, it has drastically reduced the smell of decaying rat, so I'm betting it would probably do a bang-up job on smoke. Maybe put the suit in a garment bag, along with one of the odor removers?

They're not exactly cheap, but they are cheaper than a new suit. They last for months, supposedly, so then you could put it to even more interesting (mischievous??) uses.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:18 PM on September 29, 2008

Have you tried using a steamer?
posted by meowzilla at 6:16 PM on September 29, 2008

Best answer: Does anyone have any further ideas before I gamble and throw them in the washing machine?

On the chance that you have absolu-fricking-lutely no clue whatsoever to take care of your clothing, it´s not ¨a gamble¨ to throw them in the washing machine, there is a 100% probability that they will be ruined beyond all use to anyone, unless you like to make ¨art¨ out of garbage. Not only would they be ruined, it would be a waste of water, electricity, and your time.

You can try closing them up in a closet for a few days with a pan of baking soda, possibly in combination with some of the other ideas.

Try to get the odor out, if you can´t do it donate them to charity. If you have some pathological need to make them unusable, don´t wash them, simply ¨forget¨ them on a busy streetcorner somewhere.
posted by yohko at 7:54 PM on September 29, 2008

I saw somewhere on a morning show once that you can spray vodka on clothing to take out the stink. I don't know if this was more for BO than smoke, but it might be worth trying. (test on a small patch first to check for blah, blah blah...)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 10:00 AM on September 30, 2008

I've heard that putting a bowl of vinegar in a car for 24 hours will remove the smoke smell from a car. Maybe try the same thing in a closet with the suits?
posted by hootch at 11:49 AM on September 30, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I have the suits hanging in a closet by themselves currently, and I'm going to try moving in a pan or two of baking soda to absorb odors. If that fails, I'll try vinegar next. I don't have a great place to hang them outside, unfortunately, but I'll keep trying to log in some time that way also. I don't have an extra $50 bucks to dry clean them again right now.

Incidentally, I know that washing them is not a good option, so those who got irate about the concept can relax--I meant it as a joke.
posted by midwestguy at 12:56 PM on September 30, 2008

Ozone generator.
posted by Bruce H. at 2:18 PM on September 30, 2008

midwestguy - you don't need to pay another fee. You took the clothes to get dry cleaned. They obviously did not get dry cleaned. Take them back to the same place and complain.
posted by muddgirl at 7:48 PM on September 30, 2008

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