How to Get Campfire Smell Out of Clothes: 12 Expert Tips and Tricks - The Roving Foley's
people around a smoky campfire

How to Get Campfire Smell Out of Clothes: 12 Expert Tips and Tricks

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Camping with an open fire is a wonderful family activity. But the next day your clothes smell like the campfire. The smoke smell that attaches to clothing can be a real downer. So it is a good idea to know how to get campfire smell out of clothes whether you have time for a load of laundry or need something a bit quicker.

Methods For Removing Smoke Smell From Clothing

There are several methods for how to get the campfire smell out of clothes:

  • Baking Soda and detergent in the washing machine.
  • Mist with a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.
  • Hang in the sun and fresh air for a couple of hours.
  • Mist with equal parts water and lemon juice.
  • Dryer sheets can be rubbed on the garment for a quick refresh, then air out.
campfire with benches

Let’s take a closer look at each of these methods so you will know how and why they work.

How to Get Campfire Smell Out Of Clothes

Using Baking Soda and Detergent for Washing

Baking soda is a well-known odor absorber with applications all around the house. Since smoke chemicals are acidic in nature, the basic nature of baking soda serves as a neutralizing agent. If you need smoke smells gone, baking soda is a good thing to try.

For smoky clothes, just put a half cup of baking soda into the machine with the clothing. They launder using a warm wash cycle and your normal laundry detergent. The baking soda will eliminate the smoke smell, and the detergent will clean your clothes as usual.

Applying Vinegar Solution to Neutralize Odors

Even though vinegar is acidic as well, its highly acidic nature allows it to cut right through the sticky residue of smoke, thus removing it from your clothing and remove campfire smoke odors. A spray bottle with half and half water and vinegar can be used to mist the clothing if a washing machine is not available. Then air dry the garment and it will smell great. The vinegar smell dissipates as it dries and will leave your clothes smelling fresh and clean.

Using Citrus-Based Solutions

Similar to vinegar but better smelling, citrus-based solutions, such as lemon spray, work wonders in breaking down and neutralizing smoke odors. Keep a spray bottle filled with equal parts water and lemon juice handy when you camp. Mist your clothes, tent, and sleeping bag with the solution, then allow them to air dry. Citrus-based cleaners can also be used on carpets and upholstery if the campfire smell has made its way indoors.

spraying on clothes

Dryer Sheets

Dryer sheets can be a convenient and quick method to help remove the campfire smoke smell from your clothing items like jackets and sweaters. Simply rub the affected garments with a dryer sheet and let them air out. This can be an effective temporary solution while you’re still on your camping trip and don’t have access to a washing machine or other cleaning tools.

Utilizing Sunlight and Fresh Air for Deodorizing

If you have none of these compounds, then the next best thing is to air out your smelly clothes in the sun. The sun’s UV rays will break down the smoke particles and the breeze will help to blow them away. If you have several hours to leave them out, your clothes should smell smoke-free. You could also spritz with an odor-eliminating spray to help mask the scent.

This method is also good as a short term fix for garments that require dry cleaning until you can get them in.

Implementing Steam, Hair Dryer, and Steamer Techniques

One last method is to steam your clothes, or put them in a steamy bathroom for a while. Steam will help to loosen the smoke particles and remove smoke odors. A hairdryer can help to blow out the smell.

Remember to avoid damaging your clothes while trying these methods. Be cautious with materials that may be sensitive to high temperatures, water, or chemicals. By using these ideas, you can free your clothes of their smoke smell, and leave them fresh.

people roasting marshmallows

Understanding Campfire Smell and Its Causes

Smoke Components and Effects on Clothing

When you’re around a campfire, your clothes absorb the smoke, which contains various compounds responsible for that distinct campfire smell. Most of the firewood decomposes into carbon dioxide and water vapor due to the heat. However, other compounds that don’t dissolve float around the air. Burning wood also activates several chemicals, which contribute to the smoky odors.

The primary component of fire smoke is cellulose. As the wood burns, it releases nitrogen, heavy metals, and other pollutants into the air. These substances cling to fabrics, causing your clothes to smell like smoke. Smoke particles can penetrate the fibers and, if not properly removed, can lead to long-lasting odors and even mold growth due to trapped moisture.

Types of Fabrics Affected by Campfire Smoke

All types of fabrics can be affected by campfire smoke. However, some materials may absorb and retain the smell more than others.

  • Cotton: This natural fabric is highly absorbent, which can be both a blessing and a curse. While it allows for excellent breathability and moisture control, it also soaks up campfire smoke, making it more prone to lingering odors.
  • Fleece: Fleece is a synthetic material made from polyester, known for its warmth and softness. However, its structure and the electrostatic nature of polyester fibers can attract and hold onto smoke particles, making it more difficult to remove the campfire smell.
colorful bolts of fabric

To ensure that the campfire smell doesn’t linger in your clothes, it’s essential to address the issue as soon as possible. Washing your clothes in hot water, adding vinegar or baking soda to the mix, or using bio-enzymatic treatments can all help remove the odors effectively from various fabrics.

Additional Tips to Remove Campfire Smells

Drying Clothes Outdoors After Washing

To further assist in removing the campfire smoke smell, consider drying your clothes outdoors after washing them. The combination of fresh air and sunlight helps break down scent particles and adds a naturally fresh scent to your clothes. Hang your clothes on a clothesline, drying rack, or lawn chairs to maximize exposure to the elements. If you must use a dryer, consider adding a dryer sheet with a pleasant fragrance to help mask any lingering odors.

clothes hanging on a line

Eliminating Odors From Tents and Sleeping Bags

Tents and sleeping bags can also harbor campfire smoke smell after a camping trip. To eliminate these odors, start by airing out your tent and sleeping bag outdoors. For more stubborn smells, use a tent cleaner that can enhance the waterproofness and UV resistance of your tent. For sleeping bags, wash them following the manufacturer’s instructions, usually with warm water and a gentle detergent. Be sure to dry your sleeping bag thoroughly to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Preventing Campfire Smell

Selecting the Right Wood

To avoid campfire smells, start by selecting the right wood for your fire. Hardwoods like oak and hickory produce less smoke than softwoods like pine or spruce. Ensure that the wood is seasoned and dry, as this will burn more efficiently and reduce the production of smoke. Avoid using green or wet wood, as it creates more smoke and can contribute to the lingering smell of campfire smoke.

Choose the Right Spot for Your Campfire

When you plan to have a campfire, it’s important to choose the right spot as it helps in avoiding the smell from clinging to your clothes. In this section, we will discuss the factors to consider while selecting the right location for your campfire.

parents and little girl with tent and campfire

Distance from Tent

Ensure that the campfire is at a safe distance from your tent and other belongings. A distance of at least 15 to 20 feet away from your tent is recommended. This will not only keep the campfire smell from permeating your clothes and gear, but also reduce the risk of any fire-related accidents.

Wind Direction

Take note of the wind direction before starting your campfire. Set up the fire roughly perpendicular to the wind’s direction so that the smoke is not blowing directly towards your tent and seating area. Paying attention to the wind direction will aid in minimizing the campfire smell on your clothes and make your camping experience more pleasant.

In summary, choosing the right spot for your campfire by considering distance from the tent and wind direction is crucial to prevent campfire smells from clinging to your clothes. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy a cozy campfire without worrying about smoky smells lingering on your belongings.

Wear Protective Clothing

When it comes to keeping campfire smell out of your clothes, taking proactive measures is key. Wearing protective clothing can help minimize the lingering scent of smoke on your garments. In this section, we’ll explore two essential strategies for protecting your clothes from the persistent smell of campfires: layering up and designating specific campfire clothes.

joey with all of the clothes on

Layer Up

Layering your clothes is a practical way to minimize campfire smell. Not only does this technique create a barrier between your inner layers and the smoke, but it also makes it easier to remove the outer layer before entering your tent or car.

  • Base layer: Start with a moisture-wicking fabric, such as synthetic materials or merino wool, to keep you dry and comfortable.
  • Mid-layer: Add an insulating layer, like a fleece or a light jacket, to keep you warm during cooler evenings.
  • Outer layer: Don a windbreaker or another lightweight, easily removable layer to shield your clothes from direct contact with smoke.

By peeling off layers as needed, you can maintain a more comfortable temperature while reducing the likelihood of smoke penetrating multiple layers. So pack a few light layers, to minimize smoke issues.

Designate Campfire Clothes

Setting aside specific clothes for use around the campfire is another effective approach to minimizing smoke odors. By wearing the same outfit during each campfire session, you’ll limit the number of garments exposed to the smoke. Consider the following when selecting your designated campfire clothes:

  • Choose dark colors: Smoke and ash are less visible on darker shades, and these colors will make accidental stains less noticeable.
  • Opt for natural fabrics: Materials like cotton, linen, or wool are breathable and comfortable for sitting around the fire.
  • Loose fit: Baggy clothing creates more airflow, which can help disperse the smell of smoke before it clings to your clothes.

For best results, combine both the layering and designated campfire clothes techniques to maximize your protection against lingering campfire smells on your garments.

Utilize Fire-Safe Smoke Reducers

Use a Portable Fire Pit

Using a portable propane fire pit can help you reduce smoke and its smell. These propane fire pits are designed to minimize smoke production, allowing you to enjoy your campfire without worrying about the lingering odor on your clothes. Choose a pit with a smoke-reducing technology such as a double combustion system or a built-in air circulation mechanism. By directing the airflow and promoting more efficient combustion, these features can significantly reduce smoke output.

Portable Fire Pit

  • Brilliantly engineered to provide a low-smoke fire that cannot be duplicated.
  • The camping stove has double wall design which maximizes airflow and burning process.
  • No more half burned logs to deal with this smokeless fire pit or indoor fire pit.
  • Bring it from your backyard patio to camping, or tailgating!

Additionally, placing the fire pit on a non-flammable surface or using a fire mat can help protect the ground beneath and create a safer campfire experience. Remember to keep your distance from the fire to minimize exposure to smoke while still enjoying its warmth and ambiance.

Proper Campfire Setup and Extinguishing

Setting up your campfire correctly is a key component in preventing unwanted smells. When building your campfire, create a fire pit with a barrier of rocks or a metal ring to contain the fire. Keep a safe distance from your tent or any other belongings, as the smell of smoke can cling to them.

Watch that your fire does not blow smoke towards you neighbors to maintain good camp etiquette.

Maintaining a small, well-ventilated fire will help minimize smoke emissions. Feed the fire gradually with smaller, dry branches, and avoid overloading it with wood. When it’s time to extinguish the fire, douse the embers with water and stir the ashes until everything is cool to the touch. This will help reduce any lingering campfire smoke.

campfire with rock base- how to get campfire smell out of clothes

Effective Ventilation and Airflow

Proper ventilation and airflow are vital in minimizing the accumulation of smoke and its smell in the surrounding areas. When possible, set up your campfire in a location that allows for natural airflow, away from hills or valleys where smoke may get trapped.

For indoor settings, such as a cabin, ensure proper airflow by opening windows and using fans to circulate the air. If your cabin features a fireplace, make sure the chimney is free of obstructions and the flue is opened, allowing the smoke to exit efficiently.

In case of campfires near your home, ensure that all windows and doors are closed, preventing the smell from entering the house and settling into carpets, furniture, and other fabrics. Additionally, refrain from smoking cigarettes near the campfire, as the combined odors can worsen the smell.

Frequently Asked Questions

Remove smoke smell from laundry

To remove smoke smell from your laundry, immediately wash your clothes with your usual detergent and warm water. Add 1 cup of baking soda into the washer with the clothes, or about 1/2 cup into the fabric softener dispenser. If the smell persists after washing, consider adding more baking soda or washing them again.

woman putting laundry onto machine

Wash out fire smell from clothes

Exposing your clothes to sunlight and wind can help wash out fire smell. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can break down chemicals adhered to the fabric. Hang your clothes outside for a few hours, letting the wind and sunlight do their work.

Eliminate campfire odor in house

To eliminate campfire odor from your house, open windows and doors to allow fresh air to circulate. Place bowls of white vinegar or baking soda around the room to absorb lingering odors. You can also use an air purifier with a HEPA filter to help remove smoke particles from the air.

Related Articles:

Duration of campfire smell

The duration of campfire smell on your clothes depends on various factors, such as the length of exposure to the smoke and whether you immediately attempted to remove the odor or not. Washing your clothes as soon as possible helps minimize the smell duration. Without proper cleaning, the smell can linger for days.

Removing smell from hair

To remove campfire smell from your hair, try using a citrus-based solution. Squeeze a lemon, lime, or orange peel into a bowl of water and let it sit for 25-30 minutes. Afterward, spray it evenly on your hair. The citric acid will help neutralize the odor as your hair dries.

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Grainne Foley

Grainne Foley grew up in Ireland and spent summers caravanning around Europe with her family. Now, as a wife and mother of 2, she spent 5 years traveling the USA as a full time RVing family. She is passionate about travel, and helping others who are considering the RV lifestyle. She has created dozens of helpful RVing checklists which are available throughout the website, and has curated hundreds of simple, flavorful meals for families on the go.

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