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5 Simple Ways for How to Get Campfire Smell Out of Clothes

One of the first things many people do when they return from a camping trip is to throw a load of clothes into the washer. Usually, the warm water and soap are enough to render the clothing campfire free, but not always. You might still smell smoke, even after thoroughly washing your clothing. If you find yourself wondering how to get the campfire smell out of clothes, keep reading. 

Does Campfire Smell Ruin Clothes?

Campfire smoke can ruin clothing if you repeatedly expose the clothing to smoke without adequately washing them in between. It can be so bad that they may never smell the same again. 

For example, if you have a sweatshirt that you always keep handy for chilly campfire nights and it rarely gets washed, a few weeks’ exposure with random washings in between could ruin the top. The smell can become so embedded into the fibers that it becomes a permanent part of it.   

How To Do Laundry While Traveling Full Time in an RV | Mondays with the Morton's S2E6

How Long Does Campfire Smell Last in Clothes?

How long the campfire smell lingers on clothing varies considerably based on the condition. If you wear a jacket near the campfire and then shove it into the back of a closet without washing it, the smell will likely still linger, even months later when you pull it back out again. 

Pro Tip: Make doing laundry in your RV easy with these 5 Best Small Washing Machines for RV Living

how to get campfire smell out of clothes
Campfire smell can linger on clothing for a long time, so make sure to wash quickly after sitting around the fire

5 Ways to Get Campfire Smells out of Your Clothing

If the thought of your clothes retaining the campfire smell repulses you, you’re in luck. There are a few tricks you can try to get the odor out of your clothing. Before you toss your favorite shirt because it smells like last weekend’s campfire, try one of these methods to extinguish the odor. 

#1. Add Vinegar to the Mix

Vinegar can work wonders for removing smells. Simply dump a cup of vinegar into your washing machine along with your regular soap, and not only will your clothes smell better, but they could feel better too. Vinegar can also replace fabric softeners, helping to reduce the number of unnecessary chemicals in your washer. 

how to get campfire smell out of clothes. use vinegar
Vinegar not only replaces fabric softeners, but can also remove campfire smell from laundry

#2. Throw in Some Baking Soda

If you don’t have vinegar on hand, or it didn’t work, try baking soda. In the same way that the sodium bicarbonate in baking soda can absorb odors from your refrigerator, it can also get campfire smoke smell out of your clothing. 

Try soaking your smoky clothes in a baking soda mixture overnight before washing them. For every gallon of water you use, mix in 1 cup of baking soda. For an extra punch, after soaking in the baking soda solution, give vinegar another try in the wash cycle.  

how to get campfire smell out of clothes. use baking soda
Soak clothes in baking soda over night and then wash to remove campfire smell

#3. Use Hot Water

Don’t underestimate the power of hot water, which has a way of permeating fabrics and pulling out the stench. Use this method alone or utilize it with the vinegar and baking soda tricks. Soaking your clothes in hot water before washing can increase its effectiveness. Keep in mind that hot water can shrink your clothing, depending on the material.

#4. Use a Bio-Enzymatic Treatment

While the most common uses of Bio-Enzymatic treatments include carpets and RV tanks, they can also work well to get campfire smell out of clothes. You can use these treatments on any washable surface, including fabrics. The proteins work their way into every crevice and fiber, breaking down both stains and odors until they’re entirely gone. You can commonly use them to get pet odors out of carpets–anything that can work that miracle can sure help with campfire smells! 

how to get campfire smell out of clothes. hang laundry in sunlight
Sunlight will naturally draw out campfire smell from clothing

#5. Let the Sun Do the Work

It’s amazing what the sun can do; it’s such a powerful tool! Not only can you use it to harness the energy, but you can also utilize it to get rid of stains and odors. Placing your freshly laundered clothes (still wet) in direct sunlight can help draw out the campfire smell. This also works on stained children’s clothing, knocking out two problems at once. As an added benefit, you’ll save on your electric bill (if washing at home). 

Keep in Mind: Clean, smoke-free smelling laundry is just one way to stay comfortable in your RV. Find out more about: How to Stay Comfortable When You’re Always on the Move.

how to get campfire smell out of clothes. propane fire pits
Want a campfire without the smell? Consider a propane fire pit

Have the Campfire Without the Smell with Propane Fire Pits

For some, the smell of a campfire is a pleasant smell that can bring on feelings of nostalgia. For others, a campfire smell can bring on a migraine and trouble breathing. If you’re the latter, you might consider ditching a traditional campfire and utilize a propane fire pit. Using a propane fire pit eliminates campfire smells as there’s no smoke. A bonus to using propane is that you can typically use them even in a fire ban. 

Propane Fire Pits for Camping - Why we use one

It can be frustrating to carry the campfire smell with you long after the fire has been put out. Are you someone who enjoys the lingering smell of a campfire, or do you prefer to leave it in the fire pit? 

What are your go-to laundry hacks? Drop a comment below!

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About Cait Morton

Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

With a background in Business Management, she supports and helps channel Tom’s technical prowess into the helpful content our readers and viewers expect. That’s not to say you won’t find her turning wrenches and talking shop – RV life is a team effort. She keeps the business and the blog moving forward with a variety of topics and resources for our audience.

Believe it or not, she is rather camera shy, though she co-hosts the Mortons’ personal videos and The RVers TV show.

Caitlin’s passion lies in outdoor recreation and with animals. Some of her favorite things to do are hiking, biking, and getting out on the water via kayak, SUP, or boat.

She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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Lynn N

Wednesday 11th of August 2021

I put white vinegar in EVERY wash. I put it in the bleach dispenser. It kills germs (I have family who leave frequent skid marks), kills odors, makes them softer. I also use washer balls instead of detergent and wool balls in the dryer, unless they are line-dried.

Mortons on the Move

Sunday 15th of August 2021

Thanks for the tips!