How to Get Campfire Smell Out of Clothes

Camping, bonfires, and cozy nights by the fire pit – there’s nothing quite like it. But after a fun evening spent outdoors, you may notice your clothes have absorbed that distinct campfire smell. While nostalgic, it’s not the most pleasant aroma to carry around. Don’t worry; with the right techniques, you can eliminate those stubborn smoke odors and restore your clothes to their fresh, clean state. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various methods to get campfire smell out of clothes effectively.

Get Campfire Smell Out of Clothes

The Source of the Smell

Before we dive into the solutions, let’s first understand why clothes pick up that telltale campfire scent. Smoke from fires contains various particulates and compounds, including creosote, soot, and tar. These substances cling to fabric fibers, causing the distinct smoky odor. The longer the exposure and the closer you are to the fire, the more intense the smell will be.

Smoke particles can penetrate deep into the fibers of natural fabrics like cotton, linen, and wool, making them more prone to retaining odors. Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester and nylon, may be more resistant to odor absorption but can still pick up smoke smells.

Pre-Treatment for Heavily Soiled Clothes

If your clothes are heavily soiled with soot or ash, it’s best to start with a pre-treatment step before washing. This will help loosen and remove some of the stubborn particles.

  1. Shake and Brush: Give your clothes a good shake outside to remove any loose particles. You can also use a soft-bristled brush to gently brush away any visible soot or ash.
  2. Spot Clean: For heavily soiled areas, spot clean with a pre-treatment solution or a small amount of laundry detergent and water. Gently rub the solution into the fabric using a soft-bristled brush or your fingers.
  3. Outdoor Airing: If possible, hang your clothes outside for a few hours before washing. The fresh air and sunlight can help dissipate some of the smoke odors and particles.

Washing Methods for Smoke-Scented Clothes

  1. Vinegar Wash

Vinegar is a natural odor-neutralizer and can be an effective solution for removing campfire smells from clothes.

  • Fill your washing machine with hot water and add 1-2 cups of white vinegar during the rinse cycle.
  • For an extra boost, you can also add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the wash cycle.
  • The vinegar will help break down the smoke particles and neutralize the odor.
  1. Enzyme-Based Detergent

Enzyme-based detergents are designed to break down tough stains and odors, making them an excellent choice for eliminating campfire smells.

  • Look for detergents that contain enzymes like protease and lipase, which are effective at breaking down smoke residue. Some popular enzyme-based detergents include Persil ProCleanTide Plus Ultra Stain Release, and Arm & Hammer Fresh Scent.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dosage and washing temperature.
  • For extra odor-fighting power, you can also add a scoop of oxygen-based bleach to the wash cycle.
  1. Baking Soda Soak

Baking soda is a versatile cleaning agent that can help absorb and neutralize odors.

  • Fill your bathtub or a large sink with hot water and add 1/2 cup to 1 cup of baking soda.
  • Submerge your clothes in the baking soda solution and let them soak for at least 30 minutes, or up to several hours for tougher odors.
  • After soaking, wash the clothes as usual with your regular detergent.
  1. Activated Charcoal

Activated charcoal is a powerful odor absorber and can be an effective solution for removing campfire smells from clothes.

  • Add a few charcoal briquettes or a sachet of activated charcoal to your washing machine during the wash cycle.
  • The charcoal will absorb the smoke odors from the clothes.
  • Be sure to remove the charcoal before drying to avoid staining your clothes.
  1. Oxygen Bleach Soak

Oxygen-based bleaches can help break down and remove tough odors from fabrics.

  • Dissolve a scoop of oxygen bleach, such as OxiClean, in hot water according to the package instructions.
  • Soak your smoke-scented clothes in the solution for at least 30 minutes, or up to several hours for stubborn odors.
  • After soaking, wash the clothes as usual with your regular detergent.

Drying Techniques for Odor Removal

  1. Sunlight and Fresh Air

Exposure to sunlight and fresh air can help dissipate any lingering smoke odors from your clothes.

  • Hang your clothes outside on a clothesline or drying rack, ensuring they receive ample sunlight and airflow.
  • The UV rays from the sun and the breeze will help break down and disperse the smoke particles.
  1. Dryer Sheets and Tennis Balls

Dryer sheets and tennis balls can be used as natural odor absorbers in the dryer.

  • Add a few dryer sheets or a couple of new tennis balls (without fuzz) to your dryer load.
  • The dryer sheets and tennis balls will help absorb any remaining smoke odors as they tumble with your clothes.
  1. Vinegar in the Dryer

Adding vinegar to your dryer can help neutralize odors and soften fabrics.

  • Pour 1/2 cup of white vinegar into a small bowl or onto a clean cloth, and place it in the dryer with your clothes.
  • The heat from the dryer will release the vinegar’s odor-fighting properties, helping to eliminate any lingering smoke smells.
  1. Odor Eliminator Sachets

There are various commercially available odor eliminator sachets that can be used in the dryer to help absorb and neutralize odors.

  • Products like Smelly Proof and Fresh Wave offer sachets or crystals specifically designed to eliminate odors from clothes and linens.
  • Simply toss a sachet or sprinkle the crystals into the dryer with your clothes.

Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Act Quickly: The longer smoke odors linger in clothes, the harder they are to remove. Try to wash smoke-scented clothes as soon as possible.
  2. Avoid Heat: Heat can set smoke odors deeper into fabric fibers, making them more difficult to remove. Opt for cooler water temperatures when washing smoky clothes.
  3. Repeat as Needed: For stubborn odors, you may need to repeat the washing and drying process a few times until the smell is completely gone.
  4. Use Odor Eliminators: There are various commercial odor-eliminating products available, such as sprays or powders, that can be used in conjunction with washing to help neutralize smoke smells. Some popular options include Febreze Fabric RefresherZep Smoke Odor Eliminator, and OdoBan.
  5. Consider Professional Cleaning: If you’ve tried multiple methods and the campfire smell persists, it may be time to take your clothes to a professional dry cleaner or laundromat with heavy-duty equipment.


Campfires and bonfires create lasting memories, but the lingering smoke smell on your clothes can be less than desirable. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you can effectively remove campfire smells from your clothes and restore their fresh, clean scent. From vinegar washes to baking soda soaks, and sunlight exposure to activated charcoal, there are various methods to try. Remember, acting quickly and being persistent is key to successfully eliminating those stubborn smoke odors.

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Camilo Kawas is a seasoned entrepreneur and expert in the field of commercial cleaning, with a specific focus on clothes, carpet cleaning and floor care. With a profound understanding of the importance of selecting the right products for effective stain removal from clothes, Camilo has established himself as a trusted authority in the industry.

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