4 simple steps: How to get campfire smell out of clothes

There’s nothing quite like the smell of a campfire to bring back memories of camping trips and nights spent around the fire. But, while the smell might be nostalgic, you might not actually want to carry that smell around with you after you’ve returned from your trip!

Below you’ll find some tested (and some suggested) methods for getting that campfire smell out of your clothes!

Here’s the simple 4 step system to getting the campfire smell out of clothing

  1. Air out your smelly clothes outside in the sunshine for a few days
  2. Put them through a warm wash with regular detergent and baking soda or vinegar
  3. Do a second wash if needed
  4. Let them air dry in the sun

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3 Steps to getting rid of that campfire smell on clothing

1. First step: Air out your campfire smelling clothes

One of the easiest ways to get rid of campfire smell on clothes is to simply let them air out.

Hang your clothes outside on a clothesline, drying rack, or lawn chairs and let the fresh air work its magic. If you can get them into the sunshine, the UV rays will also help.

We will leave our jackets outside for a few days as we usually don’t need them after returning from a trip. And, don’t worry if they get rained on, the water will help too!

If you don’t have access to a secure outdoor spot, maybe leave them inside beside an open sunny window with a fan blowing on them.

2. Next Step: A double wash with baking soda or vinegar

  1. Toss your smoky smelling items into the washer
  2. Add about 1 cup of baking soda into the washer with the clothes or about 1/2 cup vinegar into the fabric softener or bleach dispenser
  3. Add your usual detergent in the recommended amount
  4. Wash the clothing in warm water on a regular cycle
  5. After washing, if you can still smell campfire, add more baking soda or vinegar, detergent, and wash again

Note: Make sure to check the washing instructions as some gear will need special washing treatment.

Both the baking soda and vinegar should neutralize the odours. If you’re really concerned, and your clothes are super smelly, you can pre-soak your clothes in water with baking soda first or spray them with a vinegar/water solution.

vinegar, baking soda, and detergent used for getting campfire smell out of clothing
Vinegar, baking soda, detergent used to get campfire smell out of my clothing
ARM & HAMMER Baking Soda Made in USA, Ideal for Baking, Pure & Natural, 2.7lb Bag

3. Lastly: Let them air dry

If you are able, let those campfire smelly clothes dry in the sun and breeze. If there are any lingering odors hopefully this will get the last of it.

Next Steps to get rid of stubborn bonfire smells in your clothes

If, after doing the above steps, you still think your clothes smell like smoky bacon, you can try some of the following suggestions:

Leave them outside for a long time

If you don’t need those clothes for a while, there’s no harm in just leaving them outside.

campfire smelly jackets hanging on a chair to air outside
Airing our down jackets to get the campfire smell out of them

Use specialty odour neutralizing detergent

I’ve never felt that my clothes still had that campfire smell after a few washes, but if you’re stubborn odours won’t go away, you might want to spend some time browsing the detergent aisle to see what odor neutralizing detergents are available.

Make sure to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and you may want to consider using one that includes enzymes that specifically target odors.

Dryer sheets can help

Dryer sheets can be used as a final touch to remove campfire smell from clothes. Toss a couple of fresh dryer sheets in the dryer with your clothes, it will add a fresh scent to your clothes and neutralize any lingering campfire smells. And, you could even store your clothes with dryer sheets or an open jar of baking soda in hopes that any lingering odors will be absorbed.

How to avoid too many campfire smelly clothes in the first place:

If you’re heading out on a camping trip and you know you’ll be having campfires, you might want to consider what to wear when you’re sitting at the campfire.

If you’re someone who does a lot of camping, maybe have one jacket / sweater that is designated for campfire wearing.

For me, we camp in a cooler climate, so this also includes having specific mittens and a toque that I only wear by the campfire so that all my pairs don’t get smelly. If you’re organized and prepared, these can just be kept in your camping bins with all your other camping gear.

campfire at a campground

Some FAQs around getting campfire smell out of clothes:

How to get rid of campfire smell without washing?

To get the campfire smell out of clothes without washing them, you’ll want to let them air dry in the sunshine, if possible, for as long as possible.

Will the campfire smell go away?

Yes, eventually, the campfire smell will leave your clothing. The more you wear the items, let them air out, or go through the wash, the less you’ll notice the campfire smells.

How to get campfire smell out of down jackets?

To get campfire smell out of down jackets, leave the jacket outside in the sunshine and fresh air. If you can, leave it outside for a few days or even a week! If you can not leave it outside, place it close to an open window with a fan blowing on it.

If after many days you find it still smells you can wash it, but follow the washing instructions on your particular jacket. I try to wash my down jacket as little as necessary.

So, just to sum all that up…

Getting rid of campfire smell on your clothes can be done with a few simple steps – air out, wash with baking soda or vinegar, and let them air dry. If the odor is super stubborn, repeat these steps trying a different detergent and additives. Good luck!

vinegar, baking soda, detergent sitting in front of a washing machine

Resources and More Information:

Read more about getting odors out of fabric here.

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