How To Get Campfire Smoke Smell Out Of Clothes

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For your clothes to smell like campfire, you need not be party to the most elaborate bonfire party ever. Even the smoke coming out of a barbecue can leave behind invisible traces in your clothes, which only your nose could detect. This is because the smoke scent can easily permeate your clothing and cling on. The scent that sticks to your clothes is not a good thing and can be pretty annoying. The problem arises when your traditional washing methods aren’t able to get rid of them completely, which usually is the case. So your clothes don’t smell like smoke, we’ll show you how to get campfire smoke smell out of clothes both at home and while you’re still camping.

Get The Smoke Smell Out At Home

If you can manage to put up with the smoky smell for a day or two and wait to wash it off until you go back home, consider the following methods to deodorize your clothes. However, before you start washing the clothes, look for any washing instructions or warnings on the label of the clothing item. Once you’re clear on that front, go ahead.

Hot Water Wash For Clothes

woman smelling laundry

Not all clothes are meant to be washed with hot water. And some have upper limits as to how hot or warm the water could get. Therefore, confirming the same from the item’s washing instructions label ensures you are not inadvertently damaging the cloth while washing it.

Hot water usually helps soften the fabric, letting the soap or detergent to penetrate into the cloth better. In other words, it thins the fabric out by facilitating the fine threads to open, which helps your laundry detergent to enter the nooks and crannies of your clothes better.

A hot water wash is at times all that you require to get the campfire smell from your clothes. And, quite often, a single wash is good enough to eliminate all the pungent smell.

Kill Smoke Smell With Vinegar Wash

White vinegar thrown in with some other detergents for laundry could also come in handy with eliminating the smokiness from your clothes. The actual amount of vinegar you end up using would be in direct correlation with how potent the campfire smell is.

Start the cleaning process by putting the clothes onto a hanger. Then, hang the clothes on a bathroom doorknob or shower curtain rod. Next, fill a tub with hot water till it’s almost full. Throw some white vinegar (four cups) into the mix. Allow the water and vinegar to blend with each other and put your smoky clothes into the water.

Let the clothes soak for some time – at least 30 minutes. Once done, take it out and wring. Repeat the soaking and wringing until the odor has been significantly minimized. Make sure the clothes are properly dipped in and completely covered with the vinegar water during the soaking stage.

White vinegar has multiple uses and fighting odor is one of them. Most importantly, it’s inexpensive, non-toxic and can also help your laundry detergent do its job a lot more effectively. Feel free to add half a cup to one cup of vinegar to the mix when washing the clothes with detergent.

Baking Soda and White Vinegar

vinegar and baking soda

If you’re at home, use your washing machine to good effect. But before you throw the clothes in, soak the smoky clothes in a unique scent-removing solution that you can make yourself.

To create the special solution, have a bucket filled with warm water. Later, add one cup of baking soda and some white vinegar (close to 250ml) to the water. Put the distressed clothes in the bucket till they are completely submerged. Let the clothes sit and soak in there for at least 30 minutes – if possible, let them stay in longer.

After you are done with the soaking, wring the clothes and machine-wash them like you wash your regular clothes. The campfire stench may not go away right away. You may have to repeat this process two or more times before the smell is completely gone. Do it as many times as you need to.

Baking soda does the trick since it can easily fight off all kinds of odor, including smoke and sweat. It is also an eco-friendly washing ingredient as it doesn’t pollute the environment.

Removing Campfire Smell From Clothes

campfire smoke smell

If you get easily put off by the campfire smell in your clothes, it would be extremely difficult for you to wait till you reach home to get rid of the smoky odor. In such a scenario, the following are the things you could do to fumigate your clothes. Some clothing items, such as a leather jacket, are not meant to be laundered. These are, therefore, ideal for cleaning when you’re still at the camp.

Baking Soda

You’ll need baking soda, dryer sheets, and a sealable bag.

Grab your non-launderable clothes and throw them inside a sealable bag. Add a cup of baking soda to the bag and a couple of dryer sheets for every garment that’s in. Secure the bag’s seal and shake it well so that the baking soda gets evenly distributed. Set aside the bag for 12 hours or more while the smell is neutralized. The dryer sheets will help give your clothes a fresh smell.

After the dry soaking is done, take the clothes out and shake them so that the baking soda is cleared. To completely remove the powder, you may lint roll or brush the clothes. You may even use your vacuum cleaner for the purpose. If you would like, you may follow up on this process with some good old dry cleaning.

Enzyme Cleaner

enzyme cleaner

Use some fabric odor spray or enzyme cleaner to get campfire smell out. The spray should be something that eliminates the odor and not just masks it with some other scent. To use this technique, you would need a bathtub of warm water, laundry detergent, and some fabric odor spray.

Add one part of the spray to 10 portions of water. Place all your clothes that have recently returned from a camping trip into the solution. Let the clothes soak in there for some hours. Once the enzymes are done doing their thing, take the clothes out and throw them in your washing machine and set the usual washing cycle on.

The enzymes in the spray work by literally eating away the fabric’s pungent odors. Therefore, after having washed the clothes with your regular detergent, your clothes would smell fresh and clean again.

Alcohol Spray

If the smell doesn’t budge, use some alcohol spray. Alcohol is a major ingredient in perfumes. This is primarily because it releases the aroma stocked within as soon as it comes in contact with any surface and starts to evaporate. Any strong liquor, such as vodka, can easily get campfire smell out of your clothing.

Mix rubbing alcohol or any inexpensive vodka with some water in a spray bottle and spray the solution on the affected clothes. You may even soak the clothes in an alcohol-water solution. Do not worry about the clothes smelling like alcohol since the liquor takes away the bad odor and also doesn’t leave behind its characteristic smell once it evaporates, leaving behind clothes that smell great.

Lemon Spray

Citrus fruit juices, such as lemon juice, can do the trick too. Lemon juice is the citrus juice of choice since it does a better job out of them all to get campfire smell out. To make your lemon spray, slice some lemons and put them in hot or warm water. Allow the water and lemon slices to blend well. Once done, place in a spray bottle and spray the lemon water onto your clothes.

If you don’t have a spray bottle around, squeeze some lemon and rub them in your palms. Next, dab your lemony palms onto your clothes. Although this method would not work as great as the spray technique, it’s still better than nothing at all. Your clothes would certainly smell fresh after the dabbing.

Lemon works because its citric acid content neutralizes the scent by reacting with murky chemicals, leaving behind clothes that have no odor whatsoever.

Open Drying

shirts on a clothesline

Whether you wash your campfire smoked clothes in a washing machine or dry-wash them, make sure you let the clothes hang up outside in fresh air for some time. This is a great way to help eliminate smoke odor because it helps air to pass through and over the fibers, carrying the smell along with it in the process.

In fact, you can easily and quickly keep campfire smoke at bay by washing the clothes in some warm water and leaving them in the sun to dry. This method does the job pretty well when there is no lemon or liquor sitting around. Though this method isn’t the most effective, it’s the least and also the easiest to minimize campfire odor from your clothes.


There is nothing wrong or unnatural about clothes smelling like campfire smoke after a camping trip. But the smell isn’t pleasant, and you certainly need not put up with it the next time it happens. There are different ways to get rid of the smell. You just need to be a bit careful with the cleaning items you choose since some would not work or cause more damage when used on the wrong fabric type. Also, warm water and the sun are your friends. If there is water involved in the cleaning process, it should always be warm. And there is no better sanitizer than the sun. Therefore, always let your clothes dry in the sun once you’re done washing them.

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