Get Campfire Smell Out Of Clothes In 3 Easy Steps


Sitting around a campfire under the stars and enjoying stories with family and friends is one of the best parts about going on a camping trip. However, there is a downside. The smell of the campfire and the smoke can stick to your clothes for days.

You will likely not have access to a washing machine which presents its own set of challenges. With the right know-how and some really cool tips that we are going to share with you below, you can easily and effectively get rid of that campfire smell from your clothes and continue to enjoy your time around the campfire.

In most camping situations, you may also not have access to water. You need therefore to have a few tricks up your sleeve if you are going to prevent your clothes from smelling like smoke, all while not washing them. This also means having a few essentials packed and ready before embarking on your next camping trip.

But before learning how to get the campfire smell out of clothes, let’s first understand what causes the smell in the first place.

What Causes the Campfire Smell?

You might wonder how the campfire smoke actually sticks to our clothes after enjoying a night of storytelling sited on logs around the campfire.

When firewood burns, the combination of oxygen and heat and results in two by-products which are carbon dioxide and water vapor. There are other compounds found in wood which include small amounts of heavy metals, cellulose, mold spores, and nitrogen.

All these compounds will not break down completely and that is what produces that smoke.

When the smoke comes into contact with your clothing, the different compounds contained in it become the source of unpleasant smells.

However, with the 3 simple steps we’ve laid down for you, you can take it easy and make the most of your time around the fire knowing that you have easy solutions at hand in case your clothes or hair get smelly.

1. Using the No-wash Methods


Vodka might be a great way to enjoy your evening while you are out camping, but this time you will not be carrying vodka for drinking. Instead, you will need a spraying bottle and some warm water.

Hold your clothes up and spray them with a mixture of water and vodka. Ensure that all parts of the clothing are covered. Next, hang the clothes up in the sun.

The vodka evaporates and while it does so, neutralizes any unpleasant smell of smoke.

Lemon juice

Lemon juice is another great solution for getting rid of undesirable odors. The process is similar to that of using vodka. Take one-part lemon juice and mix it with eight parts of water. Put this mixture inside a spray bottle.

Spread out your clothes and spray the lemon juice all over the surface. Then put them up to dry in the warm sun. As the lemon juice evaporates, it will neutralize and completely get rid of the campfire smell.


This is perhaps the quickest and simplest method on how to get the campfire smell out of clothes. Buy a deodorant and pack this with your other camping essentials.

If you notice that your clothes are smelling of smoke after spending nights around a campfire, simply apply the deodorant and it should mask the campfire smell.

Activated Charcoal

Another highly effective method of getting rid of unpleasant smells in clothes is by using activated charcoal.

The process is quite simple. Simply put your activated charcoal inside a cloth and put it in a box. Then take the clothes that have the unpleasant campfire smell and put them in the same box with the activated charcoal. Close it and let them stay inside for at least 5 days.

While this method is effective, the downside is that it takes a long time for the activated charcoal to get rid of the smell. However, the clothes will come out smelling very fresh.

Washing and air drying


If you are not concerned about water, then you have the option of washing the clothes and hanging them out to dry. This method ensures that the campfire smell is not only eliminated but also leaves the clothes clean and fresh.

2. Using Conventional Methods of Cleaning Cloths

The second technique on how to get the campfire smell out of clothes is using conventional methods that involve washing clothes with deodorant and soap.

If you are camping with your RV, then you could have a small washing machine at the back. Another important factor when using these methods is that you need to have ready access to water.

Hot water

Using hot water when washing your clothes is the best way to rid them of that smoky smell. You always want to make sure that before you dip your clothes in hot water, you’ve determined how much heat they can take by reading the tags.

Hot water expands the fibers of the clothing which makes it easier for the detergent to reach the dirt and smell particles between. The campfire smell is then easily removed.

White Vinegar

Another easy solution is to take one cup of vinegar and add it to a bucket of warm water. Then simply take your clothes and dip them in the hot water.

Leave the clothes for a few minutes. The vinegar will neutralize the campfire smell and make it simple to get rid of the dirt between the fibers of the clothes.

Baking soda

One of the most effective ingredients to help remove bad odors from clothes when washing is basic baking soda. As you wash your clothes, apply detergent first and soak your clothes. After around 5 minutes, add baking soda and continue with the washing process.

Once the clothes are clean, rinse them out and air dries them. They will come out smelling clean and fresh.


Once the clothes are clean, hanging them out in the sun has proven more effective at getting rid of odors compared to using the dryer. With the combination of fresh moving air that blows the smells away, ultraviolet rays will dry out the clothes while blowing the unpleasant smells away.

This leaves you with clean, nice smelling clothes. If you’ve been around the campfire on numerous occasions without cleaning your clothes, then you might still notice a lingering smell. You can add fresheners to the fibers when you wash them a second time.

Enzyme cleaner

For campers who have pets back at home, there is all likelihood that they also regularly buy enzyme cleaner. Simply pack the enzyme cleaner with the rest of your camping gear as it is a very effective tool for getting rid of that campfire smoke.

To use an enzyme cleaner on your clothes, add one part of the cleaner to 10 parts of water. Ensure your clothes are completely submerged in the solution and let them soak for a couple of hours.

Next, remove the clothes, wash them, and air dry them. The enzymes will have eaten all the smell causing compounds off of your clothes which leaves them smelling clean and fresh after the wash.

3. The Easy Option

Some clothes are more resistant to campfire smoke than others. If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of getting rid of that smoky smell from your clothes, wearing such smoke resistant clothing is your best bet.

Note however that there is really no such thing as completely smoke-resistant clothing and these types of clothes are simply going to take repeated use around the campfire to give off any unpleasant and significant smell.

If you have lighter clothing, then cleaning them too often might end up destroying the fabric. For such kinds of clothes, the best thing is to leave them outside under direct sunlight or in a breeze to blow off that smoke. While it is probably going to take time, it will get the job done eventually.

Often, the easiest route to take is to clean your clothes without having to dip them in water or using detergent.

Using dryer sheets is another great option that takes you away from having to use water. They are great for taking the static electricity out of clothes but they can also neutralize that campfire smell

Tips to Reduce the Campfire Smoke

The main culprit behind that awful smell in your clothes after spending time around a campfire is the smoke. One way to reduce its effect is to make a campfire that produces less of it.

The first way to ensure less smoke from the campfire is to source only dry wood. This has less moisture in it which is a cause of the smoke. Avoid greenwood. This is a term used to mean wood that is not dry or has been sourced from a living plant or tree. The excess moisture results in plenty of smoke.

Secondly, do not use a straw, dry grass, or dry leaves on the fire. Only use these when lighting up the fire. Light straw even while being dry produces a lot of smoke.

The third step is to ensure that there is plenty of airflow getting into the fire. The oxygen increases combustion which makes the fire even hotter. To do this, arrange the firewood in a teepee or triangular shape with space at the bottom.

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Sitting around a campfire is a classic way to spend your evenings and for some, it’s hard to imagine a camping trip without a campfire roasting marsh mellows and sausages. While fond memories can be shared around the campfire, the resulting unpleasant smell from the smoke can cause one to develop mixed emotions.

There are plenty of ways to get rid of that campfire smoke odor and the method you choose may depend on your individual circumstances. If you are camping with your RV and have access to plenty of water then washing your clothes is a great option.

On the other hand, if you don’t have access to too much water, then you can use the no-wash deodorizing method. Among the simplest and most effective methods is to use lemons and warm water. Obtaining lemons is far easier and cheaper than buying vodka.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!