How to Get the Smell of Smoke out of Your Hair and Freshen Your Hair Strands

smoke smell out of hair

No one wants to smell like smoke. It gets stuck to your clothing, skin, and hair and is hard to remove. Whether it’s smoke from sitting around a campfire, cigarette smoke, or outdoor grilling, its clingy nature is undeniable.

Its distinctive smell sticks with you long after the smoke has cleared and is pungent enough that others around you can smell it, too.

Today, we will look at ways to stay smoke-free and learn how to remove the awful smoke smell from your hair, including situations when washing your hair with shampoo isn’t an option.

Key Takeaways

  • How to Get the Smell of Smoke Out of Your Hair: Use a clarifying shampoo to clean your hair. It’s a top choice for effectively removing cigarette smoke and other smoky smells.
  • Corn Starch: This natural and absorbent powder that acts as a deodorizer. It’s ideal for tackling smelly odors in your hair, especially when washing isn’t an option.
  • Warm Water: Use warm water with your shampoo to ensure a deeper clean. The warm warm to help remove the smoke particles.
  • Prevention: Recognize the factors that cause the smoke smell to adhere to your hair. Awareness can help adopt preventive measures.
  • Easy Solutions: There are simple ways to eliminate the smoke smell in your hair. You can use dryer sheets, perfume, shampoos, or follow a preventative hair care routine.

How to Get a Smoke Smell out of Your Hair

To remove the smoke smell from your hair, use a clarifying shampoo. Lather your hair well with warm water, ensuring thorough coverage from roots to ends. For an added boost, rinse your hair with a mixture of equal parts water and apple cider vinegar (ACV). This ACV rinse can further neutralize odors. If washing your hair isn’t possible, try sprinkling corn starch on your hair. The corn starch can help absorb the smoke odor temporarily.

How to Get a Smoke Smell out of Your Hair

Here’s a detailed explanation of 11 easy ways to remove smoke from your hair that will leave you feeling fresh and smoke-free in no time.

1. Wash Your Hair With Traditional Shampoo

Washing your hair is the most effective way to eliminate unwanted odors. If you have a shampoo that’s usually a part of your beauty routine, that will be perfectly fine to use in this scenario.

Giving your hair a thorough wash with shampoo and water will remove all traces of smoke and make your hair smell clean again. Unfortunately, this option may not be possible if you’re away on a weekend camping trip or out at the club and have just walked through a cloud of cigarette smoke.

Also, if you’re a smoker and suffer from the chronic smell of smokey hair, washing your hair daily may leave it dried out and damaged. Luckily, we have some other ideas you can try.

2. Wash Your Hair With a Dry Shampoo

Dry shampoo is a fantastic product that has skyrocketed in popularity over the past few years. While it can be purchased in an original, unscented version, purchasing a scented version will work best if you are trying to remove the odor of smoke from your hair. 

Flip your head upside down and spray the roots of your hair, keeping the bottle nozzle approximately six inches away from the scalp. Take your fingers and fluff the hair, releasing any built-up residue, and then, using your brush, comb out your hair. 

Note that using a finger-combing technique works well during this step.

This quick technique will have your hair not only feeling cleaner but smelling cleaner as well. Penny Pincher’s dry shampoo is a popular brand, but we also like Hair Dance. It’s vegan, non-toxic, and cruelty-free. You can purchase Hair Dance using this link.

3. Use a Dryer Sheet (or Fabric Softener Sheet)

Most people have dryer sheets in their laundry room, but there are other uses for dryer sheets. Dryer sheets contain compounds that help reduce static electricity, and they deposit fresh scents.

Therefore, they can work wonders at removing the smell of smoke from your hair and leaving behind the fresh scent of clean linen. This approach should work well for most mild smoke smells, including campfire smoke and a lingering cigarette odor.

To use, take a dryer sheet and run it down the length of your hair, starting at the roots and working your way down the shaft to the ends of the hair. This will quickly and effectively freshen up your hair and eliminate mild traces of smoke.

Before going on a camping trip, pack some dryer sheets along with your camping gear and use them to freshen up your clothes and your hair after a bonfire.

You could also keep some in your purse during a night out when you may come in contact with cigarette smoke. If you smoke, you can use the dryer sheet method immediately after smoking a cigarette.

Keeping some dryer sheets in your pocket or purse and using one after every smoke break will mitigate the cigarette smell.

Use Baking Soda

4. Use Baking Soda

For many years, people have used baking soda as an air freshener and deodorizer. Placing a box in your fridge or pantry can help reduce the smell of food; likewise, using a small amount in your hair can help reduce the smell of smoke, no matter what its origin. 

If you find your hair is smelling smokey, take a small amount of baking soda and gently rub it throughout your hair and scalp.

Using a brush or comb, you can use your fingers to disperse the baking soda through your hair and allow it to cover the hair shafts. Most traces of smoke should be gone in no time. While this method works well, be careful not to use too much baking soda.

Using baking soda excessively can turn your hair white and leave a powdery film on your scalp. Note that some ladies substitute baby powder for baking soda.

5. Use a Blow Dryer (or Hair Dryer) on the Cool Setting

Depending on the level of smoke exposure, sometimes all your hair needs is a quick blast of air with a blow-dryer.

Make sure you turn your dryer to the cold air setting (using hot air will bake the smell into your strands) and gently blow cold air through your entire head of hair. 

The cold air will effectively remove many of the smoke particles on your hair strands and freshen up your locks. If you’re dealing with a strong cigarette smell, campfire smell, or just smelly hair, one of the prior methods will likely work better.

6. Body Perfume

Sometimes, a quick squirt of perfume is enough to freshen up your hair and remove any traces of smoke. Remember that this step is effectively “masking” the smell and not removing it.

So, I’d recommend using a light perfume that isn’t too strong. For the best results, spray your hands, brush or comb, and work the perfume through your hair.

This process will evenly disburse the perfume throughout your hair and ensure that too much perfume isn’t applied, which could be overwhelming. 


7. Rosewater

While you may not have rosewater at home, it should be easy enough to find at most pharmacies, and it can be an extremely useful item to keep in your medicine cabinet. 

Rosewater is made from rose petals that have been steeped in purified water, and it makes a great toner and cleanser for the skin and can help reduce redness and inflammation.

It also has a wonderful smell that can help to mask smoke smells. Spritz rosewater into the hair and comb or brush it through.

8. Essential Oils

Essential oils come in various scents, although they have many benefits beyond a pleasant scent for your hair. Lavender oil can promote a good night’s sleep and can help reduce the effects of stress and anxiety, while citrus scents, like lemon oil, can help make you more awake and energetic. 

Combine a few drops of your favorite essential oils with a small amount of purified water and add them to a spray bottle. Apply the oil mixture to your hair using the spray bottle, focusing on the roots of your hair, and then brush or comb the oil mixture throughout your hair.

Not only will your hair smell fresh, but you will also gain all the amazing benefits of the essential oil(s) you’ve chosen.

9. Lemon Juice

There is no cleaner scent than the fresh smell of citrus, specifically that of a lemon. Just a whiff and it brings to mind spring cleaning and a freshness that is unmatched by any other scent. 

Lemon juice is a great way to freshen up your hair and remove any odors, including smoke. To try this method, add the juice of one lemon and a small amount of lemon zest to purified water.

Place this in a spray bottle and let it sit overnight for the lemon zest to fully infuse the rest of the solution. In the morning, it will be ready to use, and you can add a few sprays to your hair to freshen it up throughout the day.

10. Vodka

While it may not sound like a particularly good option for removing odor, vodka has amazing deodorizing properties that can remove the traces of smoke and other smells from your hair.

Plus, once it dries, it won’t smell like alcohol, so there is no need to worry that you will smell like you just imbibed in a drink!

Create a mixture of 50:50 water to vodka ratio and spritz on your hair, combing through with your fingertips. Allow the hair to dry, and apply a second treatment if a smoke residue (or a bad smell) remains.

11. Hair Perfume

While still relatively new to the market, hair perfume is gaining popularity. It comes in many different scents and is specially designed to be applied to your hair without adding an overpowering scent or making it feel greasy. 

While this option is fairly expensive, it is great for those who often need to deodorize their hair. Since these perfumes can be expensive, it’s often a preferred solution for those with short hair. If you have long hair, a different solution might be preferred.

How to Keep Your Hair From Smelling Like Cigarette Smoke (or Cigar Smoke)

The best way to keep your hair from smelling like cigarette smoke is to quit smoking. Although, that is easier said than done for many people.

Luckily, we have some great techniques that you can try to minimize the amount of smoke that gets in your hair. These techniques are only recommended for firsthand and secondhand smoke; they don’t work for thirdhand smoke (e.g., the residue left on hard surfaces or traces of cigarette smoke odor).

Change Your Sheets and Pillowcase Regularly

The smell of smoke can become embedded into your sheets and pillowcases and, from there, can be transferred back into your hair. Changing your sheets every two weeks is recommended, but changing them more often will help reduce the smoky odor for those who want to remain smoke-free.

Wash Your Hairbrush and Comb

If your hair smells like smoke, this scent can be transferred to your combs and brushes and then transferred back into your hair after washing it. To prevent this from happening, wash your brushes and combs regularly using a small amount of shampoo.

Smoke Outside

If you have to smoke, do so outside of your home. The open space and fresh air will minimize the smoke stuck on your clothes and hair.

Use an Air Purifier to Eliminate the Odor

If you can’t smoke outside, purchase an air purifier with a HEPA filter and ensure it is turned on every time you light up. It will filter the air and minimize the amount of smoke.

While it won’t get rid of all the smoke completely, it will work wonders at limiting how much smoke you are exposed to and, therefore, how much gets stuck on your clothes and in your hair. 

Cover Your Hair

Try to cover your hair every time that you light up a cigarette. Pull up your hood or use a scarf to protect your hair if you are out or if you are at home; try using a shower cap. If your hair is covered, less smoke will be able to stick to it, and therefore, it won’t smell as bad. 

How to Make Homemade Hair Perfume

Moisturizing Hair Fragrance DIY | Sisterlocks

While purchasing hair perfume is a great option, it can also be expensive. Luckily, there are many recipes for homemade hair perfume that are quick, easy, and cheap.

After making DIY hair perfume, you can keep it in your purse or your desk drawer at work. You could also bring it with you on a camping trip. It’s an excellent way to freshen up quickly.


  • 1 cup of rosewater
  • Leave-in conditioner
  • Essential oil (lavender oil or sweet orange oil works well)
  • Aloe vera gel

Add the rosewater to a bowl and add six to ten drops of your preferred essential oil. The more oil you add, the more pungent the smell will be.

Next, add half a teaspoon of leave-in conditioner and one teaspoon of aloe vera gel. Mix well and add the mixture to a small spray bottle using a spoon. Spritz the hair perfume onto your hair any time you need a quick freshening up.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we address common questions and concerns related to a smoky smell or unpleasant odor in your hair. Read through the questions and answers below for quick insights and solutions.

What Gets Rid of the Smoke Smell in Your Hair?

To eliminate the smoke smell from your hair, you can wash it with traditional shampoo. If washing your hair isn’t feasible, there are alternative solutions. You could try using a dry shampoo, baking soda, or a dryer sheet. Lemon juice, rosewater, vodka, essential oils, or specialized hair perfume are also options. Each method varies in application but aims to neutralize or mask the smoky odor.

How Do You Get the Smoke Smell out of Your Hair Without Washing It?

To remove the smoke smell from your hair without washing, try dry shampoo or baking soda. You could also brush it with a dryer sheet. Alternatively, lemon juice, vodka, rosewater, and essential oils can make your hair’s odor. Another option is to use perfume. These methods work to absorb odors, neutralize them, or mask the smoky scent.

Why Does Smoke Smell Stay in Hair?

The smoke smell lingers in your hair because smoke particles adhere to hair strands. The hair’s porous nature traps these particles. This causes the distinctive smell to persist long after the smoke source is gone. Smoke is hard to remove because it sticks to surfaces, like hair.

Will Water Get Smoke Smell out of Hair?

Using water may reduce the intensity of the smoke smell. However, more is needed to eliminate the smell completely. For the best results, wash your hair with shampoo.

Why Does My Hair Still Smell Like Smoke After I Wash It?

Even after washing, your hair may smell like smoke for a few reasons. Even if you use shampoo, smoke particles may not be fully removed. Your hairbrush or comb could still have smoke residue. There also might also be thirdhand smoke nearby.

How Long Does Cigarette Smell Last on Hair?

In a smoke-rich environment or with direct exposure, the smell can linger for days. However, Proper cleaning and preventive measures can eliminate the smell within hours.

Related Articles

Removing the smoky smell from your hair doesn’t have to be daunting. Even lingering odors from cigarettes can be easily fixed. If you’ve been near a campfire or cigarette smoke, there are simple ways to make your hair smell better. You have multiple solutions, from regular shampoo to corn starch or clarifying shampoo. Ultimately, prevention is vital. Understanding why smoke clings to your hair in the first place can help you avoid these issues.

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