Whether you’re a fan of camping, bonfires, or just good old-fashioned barbecues, there’s no denying that the smell of smoke can linger on your clothes long after the fun is over. If you find yourself in this boat and need to know how to get the campfire smell out of clothes, then read on! We’ll cover everything you need to know about getting rid of that smoky aroma.
Tip #1: Wash Your Clothes Immediately
The first thing to do when trying to get the campfire smell out of your clothes is to wash them as soon as possible. Allowing the smoke and soot from the fire to stay on your clothes for too long can set the smell into the fabric, making it harder to remove later. So ensure you wash them immediately upon returning from your trip or, if you have access, while you’re still camping.
Tip #2: Use Warm Water
Washing your clothes in warm water can help to loosen any smoke particles lodged in the fabric. It’s also necessary to use a good, strong detergent or laundry soap, as this will help break down the fire’s oils and residue. Be sure to read the label on your detergent for specific instructions on how much to use, as too much could leave your clothes feeling stiffer than normal.
Tip #3: Baking Soda Rinse
For those stubborn campfire smells that just won’t seem to go away, a baking soda rinse is an excellent way to neutralize odors. Simply make a paste out of baking soda and water and apply it liberally onto your clothes. Allow the paste to sit on the fabric for a few minutes, then rinse off with warm water and hang your clothes outside to dry.
Tip #4: Vinegar Soak
Another effective way of removing the campfire smell from clothes is using vinegar. Simply fill a bucket or sink with cold water, add 1 cup of white vinegar, and soak your clothes for about 30-60 minutes. Afterward, rinse them thoroughly before hang drying them outdoors or inside, away from direct sunlight.
Tip #5: Sunlight
One of the oldest tricks in the book is exposing your clothing to natural sunlight in order to get rid of smells like smoke and soot. Hang up your washed items on an outdoor line or in a sunny window and allow the sun to do its work. Ensure you don’t leave them outside for too long, as this can cause fading or damage to the fabric.
Drying the clothes outdoors will also expose them to the breeze, which can help blow away any lingering campfire odors. Also, spending time outside will help you get rid of the campfire smell in your hair.
Tip #6: Odor Eliminating Dryer Sheets
One Reddit used recommended using odor-eliminating dryer sheets:
“Go to the hunting section of Walmart or whatever store. Get the dryer sheets that eliminate the scent. Run through the dryer, using extra sheets.” – climberoftalltrees, Reddit.
These dryer sheets are designed to help eliminate unwanted odors from clothing and can be a great way to eliminate the campfire smell. Be sure to check out the label for instructions on how to use them properly, as too much could leave your clothes feeling stiff or scratchy.
Tip #7: Have a Separate Set of Clothes
One of my favorite tactics is to pack an extra set of clothing specifically for camping. This way, all the campfire smells stay in one outfit, and any other clothing is kept clean and fresh! An old comfy hoodie and a pair of cargo pants are my go-to, and they stay tucked away in my camping gear until it’s time to start another campfire. It goes without saying that these, too, should be washed every now and then.
Tip #8: Use a Steamer
Using a garment steamer is an effective way to remove smoke odor from clothes. Start by steam-cleaning each article of clothing one at a time with the steamer set on its highest setting. The heat generated by the steamer should break down the molecules causing the smoky scent and allowing them to evaporate into thin air.
Keep in mind that this process will take longer for thicker fabrics like denim or wool coats—you may need to hold the nozzle in place for several minutes to effectively break down all stubborn molecules.
Tip #9: Use Odor Eliminating Spray
Lastly, you can try using an odor-eliminating spray to get rid of any lingering campfire smells. These sprays are designed to penetrate deep into the fabric and neutralize any unwanted aromas. Just be sure to read the label for instructions on how to use them properly, as too much could leave your fabrics feeling wet or sticky. Febreze, for example, is a popular brand, and many swear by it for getting rid of campfire odors.
Preventing the Campfire Smell
One of the best tips for getting rid of the campfire smell is not having to deal with it in the first place.
Keep Your Distance
Try to keep your clothing and yourself away from the fire as much as possible. Clothing can pick up the smell of smoke and soot from just being in close proximity to a campfire, even when you aren’t in direct contact with the campfire smoke, so do your best to keep your distance or wear something that can be easily removed and washed afterward.
Use a Clean Firepit
If you’re starting the fire, ensure your firepit is clean and free of soot or debris from previous fires. A clean firepit will enable your campfire to burn better and hotter, resulting in little to no smoke and soot lingering around the fire. Having a fresh, clean fire will reduce the amount of smoke and soot in your campsite.
Avoid Wet Wood
A common mistake when it comes to dealing with campfires is not thinking about what kind of wood you’re burning. Damp wood will create more smoke and soot, thus increasing the chances of your clothing picking up that nasty campfire smell. So make sure to check if the wood is dry before adding it to the fire for optimal performance and less smoke.
Dry hardwoods such as oak or hickory will burn much better than soft woods such as cedar or pine. Burning dry hardwood will reduce the amount of smoke and soot produced, thus reducing the chances of your clothing smelling like a campfire.
If you need more tips on choosing the right firewood, take a look at our “How Much Firewood Do I Need” article.
If you can, position your campfire away from the wind. If a fire is positioned in the path of a strong breeze, it will produce more smoke than if placed in an area with less wind. Make sure to check the direction of the wind beforehand and position your campfire accordingly. We know this is easier said than done since the minute you plan out where to position your campfire, the wind direction will change… but it’s worth a shot anyways!
Choose Your Fuel Wisely
When choosing kindling for starting or maintaining a campfire, opt for materials like twigs or dry leaves instead of chemical accelerants or gas-infused logs, which contain harmful toxins that linger around in the air after burning. These chemicals only worsen the smokey odor and can be damaging to your health if inhaled too often. Stick to natural fuel sources for the best results and the least amount of campfire smoke.
Getting rid of campfire smells from clothing doesn’t have to be hard – just follow these simple tips and tricks, and you’ll be able to keep those memories alive without having to worry about any lingering odors! Make sure you wash your clothes as soon as possible after coming home from a camping trip, add vinegar or baking soda to the wash, and line-dry everything outside for the best results. Happy camping!