How to Get Campfire Smell Out of Clothes? [Proven Ways]

Summertime can mean only one thing—lots of adventures. When it comes to outdoor activities, few things can beat camping.

The joy of camping comes at night when you sit around a campfire, cracking jokes with friends, or gazing at the midnight stars with your lover. The tangible warmth, the freshness of nature, and cackling flames do create unforgettable memories.

However, when the fun is over, you’ll notice some smoky odors on your garments. It’s not an awful smell, but you can get headaches if the fumes permeate your clothes for more than a day.

Luckily, there are several ways of getting rid of this odor. Read on and learn how to get campfire smell out of clothes.


burning campfire

Ways of Removing Campfire Scents at the Campsite

You don’t have to withstand campfire odors until you head home. There are several tricks on how to deodorize your smelly clothes while still on the campsite. Below are some of these methods.

1. Use Alcohol

Vodka, liquor, and other alcoholic drinks are essentials of a campfire party. But alcohol can also act as a cleaner. If you need to remove smoky campfire scents from your clothes, turn to alcoholic drinks.

For this task, you’ll need some warm, clean water and hooch. Please don’t sacrifice an expensive bottle of Legacy by Angostura. Instead, use any inexpensive vodka or spirit you brought along.

The next step is mixing the warm water with the vodka. The ideal ratio is 4:1 water/alcohol.

Take off your smelly clothes and soak them into this mixture. Alternatively, you can place the solution into a spray bottle and spray your clothes. Finally, dry them in the sunlight.

The alcohol loosens the smoke particles that are stuck on your garment. Loosening the particles makes it easy for water to wash away the smell.

The only downside to this method is your clothes will have a liquor odor. With that said, the scent will diminish once the alcohol evaporates.

2. Hang them Out To Dry

You can freshen your campfire clothes by hanging them out to dry. Dip your smelly clothing in some water, then leave them to dry in the wind.

You might need to hang your garments outside for several days to eradicate the smoky smell.

This method has its demerit too. Exposing your clothes to too much UV light will degrade their fabric.

3. Use Lemon Juice

You can use freshly squeezed lemon juice to get rid of campfire pungency from your clothes.

Lemon juice contains citric acid, which is excellent at clearing out unwanted scents. The citric acid combines with smoke components, forming odor-free compounds.

You’ll need 1-3 lemons, a spray bottle, and warm water to execute this method. Start by cutting the lemons and squeezing out the juice into the spray bottle.

Later, top up the bottle with warm water and shake it. Spray a good amount of the mixture into your clothing, then hang it out to dry. The smoky scents will disappear after some hours.

You can utilize an airbag if you don’t have a spray bottle. Squeeze some lemon juice into the airbag, then add warm water and your smoky garments. Seal the bag and let it rest for a few hours. Foul scents will be a thing of the past after this period elapses.

campfire smoke

How to Get Rid of the Smell at Home

Camping activities are fun. That’s why very few campers set time aside to clean clothes. In most cases, people will postpone cleaning their stuff until they get back home.

Cleaning your smoke-infused clothes at home is ideal. You’ll have your washing machine, an array of laundry products, and other deodorants.  Here’s how to get campfire smell out of clothes at home.

1. A Basic Wash with Hot Water

A basic wash with hot water can help remove smoke odors from your clothing. Hot water will open up the clothes’ fibers, making it easier for detergents to penetrate. In the end, a simple wash removes all unwanted scents.

Set the washer at high temperatures, then add your smelly clothes plus your favorite detergent. Be careful when cleaning woolen garments. Temperatures above 40 ˚C will destroy woolen clothes.

2. Try Steam

Like hot water, steam can neutralize campfire pungency in your clothing. When using this remedy, you’ll need an iron with steaming functionality.

Fill the iron’s water tank with distilled water, then iron your smelly garment with steam. The steam will remove the smoky odor from your clothing.

Exercise caution when using this method. Steaming might destroy the fibers that make your garment.

3. Try White Vinegar

If the above method doesn’t work, you can try adding white vinegar to the washer. Unlike standard detergents, vinegar contains acetic acid. This acid will help break down the pesky smoke residues stuck in your clothing.

To clean your garments, mix a cup of white vinegar with your detergent, then add the mixture to your smelly clothes. If the smell persists, submerge the dirty garment into a tab filled with hot water. Afterward, add a cup of vinegar and detergents.

You’ll need to soak the garment for about an hour or two, then transfer it to the washing machine for a regular wash. The smoky odor should be gone after this thorough wash.

4. Use Baking Soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is another great product for eliminating unwanted odors from clothes. This alkaline, multi-use item can effectively get the campfire smell out of your clothes.

When using this method, add about a cup of baking soda to the washer. To ensure a thorough wash, you can mix the baking soda with detergents. This should neutralize campfire scents in your clothes.

Alternatively, you can place your smelly clothing into a tight plastic bag, then add a cup of baking soda.

Shake the bag to ensure the sodium bicarbonate covers every part of the clothing. Allow the baking soda to neutralize the smoky scents overnight. You only need to shake off the soda, and you’ll have a fresh garment.

Never use baking soda on silk or woolen fabric. Baking soda’s high pH might denature protein-based fibers in silk and wool.

5. Odor-Eliminating Sprays

Are you still seeking ways on how to get campfire smell out of clothes? You can get rid of smoky odors using homemade sprays.

You’ll need vinegar, a spray bottle, water, and essential oil to make your odor-eliminating spray. You can use any scented plant extract as an essential oil.

Mix equal portions of vinegar and water in the spray bottle. Afterward, add a few drops of essential oil to this mixture to create your smell-removing spray. Spray your clothing with this mixture to eliminate campfire smells.

6. Use Enzyme Cleaners

These multi-purpose cleaners can help you remove stains and awful scents. That’s why they are common among pet owners.

That said, you can use enzyme cleaners to remove the campfire scent out of your clothes. These cleaners use bacteria to neutralize odors in your clothes.

When using this option, you’ll need:

  • A bathtub
  • An enzymatic cleaner
  • Hot water

Start by filling the tub with hot water, then add some bio-enzymatic cleaner. Later, submerge your stinking clothes into the tub and let them soak for one to two hours. This should eliminate any foul smell.

You can also use this method to eliminate smells from your camping gear and tents.

What Causes the Smoky Odor

What Causes the Smoky Odor

Most campers use tinder, kindling, and firewood to build campfires. When wood burns, its organic materials break down, releasing heat and smoke. 

  • Wood smoke contains the following airborne particles and gases.
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Aldehydes – formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, propionaldehyde, furfural, acrolein, and butyraldehyde
  • Nitrogen oxides
  • Alkyl benzenes like toluene
  • Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)
  • Cellulose
  • Creosote

The smoky odors from campfires come from these organic compounds. Creosote is primarily responsible for the dark color of smoke.

When these compounds land in your clothing, they might stain it and leave unwanted scents.

Particles from wood smoke are safe unless you inhale or ingest them. Stay away from campfire smoke if you’re prone to asthma attacks. The particulate matter might trigger stroke, heart failure, and similar heart issues.

Inhaling too much carbon monoxide from campfires can make you unwell or even kill you. That’s why you should never allow fumes to enter your tent or camping unit.

How To Avoid Smoky Scents From Campfires

Instead of going to greater lengths to remove the smoky odor in your clothes, you could deal with this issue from the source.

The only way to avoid smoky scents is to limit the amount of smoke your campfire generates.

Fire produces unwanted by-products if there is incomplete burning. The best way to ensure your campfire burns efficiently is to use dry wood.

Dry wood burns quickly, meaning it produces less smoke. Your clothes are unlikely to get smoky odors if you spend time near such campfires.

Parting Shot

You shouldn’t be scared by smoky scents from camping fires. Learn how to get campfire smell out of clothes easily from the above guide. To minimize unwanted odors, ensure you use dry wood to build fires.

Andrew Mullen

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