How to Remove Smoke Smell from Yarn with One Simple Trick
My dad was a longtime pipe smoker. It didn’t really bother me except when he smoked in the car. He quit after 30+ years—kudos to him.
Now that I’m a crafter, I’m much more concerned about smoke smells. I don’t want my balls of yarn smelling like cigarette, pipe, campfire or (in the case of Colorado, where I live) marijuana smoke. I’ve tried many methods to remove smoke smell from yarn, but my one simple solution came after many failed attempts to remove the smell from a bag full of yarn I purchased through Craigslist from a cigarette smoker.
Fail: Unsuccessful Ways to Remove Smoke Smell from Yarn
The first thing I did after buying yarn that smelled like smoke was scour the internet. I tried several different methods that people recommended and was dismayed and discouraged when they didn’t work. The main problem was that the solutions I tried often just masked the smell; they didn’t get rid of it completely.
Do NOT try these at home. They don’t work.
1. Febreze or other air fresheners
Method: Spritz yarn with air fresheners or disinfectant sprays.
Fail: This only masks the smell, and the effect doesn’t last. The fresh scent wears off, and you’re back to smoky-smelling fibers.
Method: Place yarn in a garbage bag with a bunch of newspaper, and let it sit for several days.
Fail: This had no effect on my smoky yarn, so it was a total waste of time. I have placed newspaper in my car to remove odor, which works great, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work on a skein of yarn.
3. Fabric Softener
Method: Place yarn in the dryer with a sheet of fabric softener.
Fail: This simply adds one more layer of smells to the yarn . . . and not in a pleasing way. At first you think it smells nice, then there’s an aftersmell that makes you want to gag. Perfume and smoke are not a pleasant combination.
The One Simple Secret to Removing Smoke Smell from Yarn
After all of these failed attempts, I made one last-ditch effort to remove the smell from my newly acquired balls of yarn. I was hesitant to try it because I was afraid that it would bleach the color out of my yarn, but after the failed experimentations mentioned above, I was giving this yarn just one last chance before sending it to the curb.
This worked for me, but you’ll want to experiment on a sample ball of yarn to see if it will work for you and the fiber content of your yarn.
1. Mother Nature
Method: Place balls of yarn outside in direct sunlight for several days.
Success: After several days in the sun (and rain), the smoke smell was completely burned out of my yarn. And because it was only out in the sun for a few days, the sun did not have time to bleach the color.
Side Note: I did this in the middle of the hot summer, and I confess that the skeins may have been rained on once or twice (because at this point, I thought they were a lost cause). I’m not sure if rain is needed or not, but I suspect it’s the sun and fresh air that are the key ingredients.
Advice from Interweave Staff
I asked my coworkers at Interweave what they recommend for removing smoke smell. I haven’t tried these methods myself, but they may work just as well. Try them at your own risk! (OK, I am saying that with an air of doom and gloom, but these may work great. I just don’t know.)
If you try any of these, let me know how it works out for you. Inquiring minds want to know.
1. Suggestion: Soak the yarn in no-rinse soaking cleaner like Soak or Eucalan.
2. Suggestion: Air out the yarn on a shaded porch for a couple of days.
3. Suggestion: Soak it in a baking soda and water solution.
4. Suggestion: Seal it in a box with activated charcoal.
5. Suggestion: Soak yarn for 20 minutes in a solution that’s one glug white vinegar to one gallon of water.
I wish you much success in getting your yarn smelling as fresh as a daisy or as sweet as cool mountain air. Do write and let me know what methods have worked for you.
PS: The sun pattern is the Incan Star from Harmony Guides: Crochet Stitch Motifs by Erika Knight.
Which Project is Best for Your Fresh-smelling Yarn?