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How to remove smoke smell from waterproof garments

(remove smoke from waterproof garments)
This is how I got my waterproof jacket to smell fresh without losing the waterproofing, after it was infused with campfire smoke on the Cape Point overnight trail. [2 minutes]

My jacket used "Vapour-Tex" breathable waterproofing which includes a durable water repellant (DWR) coating. Normal detergents would get between the nanoscopic water repellent fibers of the DWR coating, rendering it ineffective. Then again, so does smoke!


  • Non-detergent liquid cleaner (e.g.Nikwax Tech Wash)
  • Washing machine with wool cycle, or basin of hand-hot water (40 degrees: can use without your hand hurting)
  • Water repellent renewing spray (e.g. Nikwax TX Direct)
  • Tumble dryer with delicate setting, or a warm iron and cloth, or a hair dryer.
Note: I am in no way affiliated with Nikwax.


The smoke smell was pretty stubborn, you might skip the second wash or long rinse if your garment passes the sniff test.
  1. Wash the garment once: with garment inside-out, hand-wash or use the machine wool or delicate wash cycle at 40 degrees centigrade (104 Fahrenheit), using one cap of waterproof cleaner. If hand washing, the water should be cool enough that you can hold your bare hands in it without pain.
  2. Wash the garment a second time: hand-wash, and this time leaving it to soak overnight in the cleaner before rinsing.
  3. Rinse the garment thoroughly: three times by hand in hand-hot water with soaking between, or in the machine's rinse cycle. If you can still smell the smoke, leave it to soak for the day in water. Jacket should eventually pass the sniff test - no smell of smoke.
  4. Apply waterproofing spray: after drip-drying for half an hour, apply the spray-on waterproofing while the garment is still wet. Leave the spray on for about 10 minutes then wipe off the excess.
  5. Allow the garment to air dry. Yes, just put it on a hanger and hang it out to dry.
  6. Activate the water repellent with heat: either with garment inside-out on a gentle tumble dry cycle for 15 minutes, or using a hair-dryer, or by ironing the garment with a towel between it and the iron.
Now your garment should be clean, no longer smelling of smoke, and still waterproof!

P.S. also check out my post on extending the life of your clothing.

Do you have any tips on getting smoke out of waterproof garments? Comment below!


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