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How To Get Campfire Smell Out Of Clothes

Is there anything better than sitting around a campfire? Is there a more pleasurable experience possible than catching up with old friends and family in the majesty of the great outdoors, lounging around an open-air fire while the kids roast weenies and marshmallows to their hearts’ content?

The answer, at least according to the millions of people that go camping each and every year when the weather begins to turn warm, is a big resounding NO!

Campfires are so popular as a gathering place that many people the world over even try to bring that very experience to their own backyards. Fire pits and fire rings are some of the hottest selling products in the “Outdoors” sections at popular home improvement stores, with millions of these simple devices sold every year.

And why? Because people love campfires!

As popular and gratifying as the campfire experience is, there is one downside: the smell of your clothes once the campfire has concluded.

Perhaps we love campfires so much that the Gods try to leave a little bit of that smell into the fabrics of our clothing? Of course, another more plausible explanation is that the smoke tends to get trapped in the tightly woven fabrics of our clothing, and as a result, we can be walking around smelling like campfire smoke even days after our last campfire.

So, how does one go about removing that campfire smell from their clothes? Does normal washing do the trick?

Well, in many cases it does not, leaving people to search for other remedies instead. If this sounds like you, well, you have come to the right place. In the following article we will discuss several ways for removing campfire smoke from your clothes, with a detailed description of each and every strategy.

couple by campfire

Ways To Get Campfire Smoke Out Of Your Clothes

Perhaps it is because getting campfire smoke out of clothes is so difficult that there are so many homemade methods people use to achieve that goal. Nonetheless, here we have assembled several great ways to ensure you don’t walk around smelling like a roaring campfire.

The Hot Water Method—Always Use Hot Water

If you choose to try and get that campfire smoke smell out of your clothes the traditional way—by washing them in your washing machine—be sure to ALWAYS use hot water.

According to experts in the clothing industry, smells, whether foul or pleasant, are best removed from clothes when hot water is used.

Therefore, before you commence with your hot water washing, always try to follow the tips listed below:

  • Check Tags for Safety Purposes. Before you begin any wash cycle, you should check the tags on your clothing, where washing recommendations usually appear. On that tag, you can discover whether your particular article or articles of clothing can even be washed in hot water without shrinking or ruining them. If the tag says cold water only, you will need to revert to one or more of the other methods listed below.
  • Use the Normal Cycle. Even if you are just washing one or two items of clothing, we highly recommend that you use the normal cycle. If hot water works best on smells, it only stands to reason that more hot water, which is what you will get on the normal cycle, will get more of the smells out than say the express or gentle cycle.
  • Turn Up the Heat. If your washing machine has a function that allows you to turn up the heat, check your clothes for the maximum mount of heat they can withstand and then set the washer for that temperature. If you have an older washing machine, you can always adjust the water temperature by turning up the heat on your water heater. More heat on the clothes will help open up the fibers on your clothing, allowing the water and detergent to reach deep within the body of the clothes—where most of the smoke residue resides.

group around a campfire

White Vinegar Method

White vinegar not only has a lot of nutritional benefits, it is also a wonder product for little jobs around the house, including working as a deodorizer for getting that campfire smell out of your clothing.

For this method, you will need all of the following:

  • Wash Tub. The wash tub you select can be as large or as small as you desire, however, if you have a lot of clothes to wash, we recommend you go with a larger tub.
  • Hot Water. The hot water should again be just as hot as your clothing will allow and still be safe. It is best if you see steam rising from the water. Just be careful not to burn yourself.
  • White Vinegar. White vinegar can be found in most all grocery and convenience stores if you don’t already have a bottle in your cupboards or pantry.
  • Hanger. Once the washing is complete, you will use the hanger to air dry your newly-washed clothing. It will also come in handy during the deodorizing stage.

Once you have assembled everything you need, follow these steps to complete the steaming and deodorizing process.

  • Hang the clothes. The first step in the process is to hang the clothes you want to treat in the bathroom. Curtain rods are great for hanging, but if you do not have a curtain rod you will need to improvise.
  • Fill the tub with hot water. Using the hottest water that your clothes can withstand (steaming hot), fill the tub up at least to the halfway mark. The tub should be placed directly underneath the hanging clothes.
  • Pour White Vinegar into the hot water. Pour the entire contents of a small bottle of vinegar into the hot water.

After you have completed each of these steps, simply close the bathroom door and walk away for about 2 hours. The trick is to allow the steam from the hot water and the deodorizing properties of the white vinegar to work together to get the campfire smell out of your clothes.

The steam helps to open up the fibers of the clothing, deep within the clothes where the residue resides, while the vinegar works to take care of the smell. After about two hours, re-smell the clothes you hung and be amazed at how well this method works.

You can also use the white vinegar method when washing clothes in the washing machine. To accomplish this, just follow the steps listed below:

  • Load detergent into washer. Using a non-abrasive, non-scented detergent, pour about a half cup of the solution or powder into your washing machine.
  • Switch on the normal cycle. Just as with the hot water method, you will want to turn your washing machine on to the normal cycle.
  • Use hot water. Again, set the temperature of the water to the hottest temp your clothes can safely withstand.
  • Add vinegar. Once the washer has filled up about half way, add a half-cup of vinegar and shut the lid on the washing machine.
  • Dry clothes. Using either a standard clothes dryer or your clothesline (best in the warmer months), dry your clothes as you normally would.

With this method, the hot water will again open up the fibers, and the vinegar, which is a natural deodorizer, will help attack the campfire smell from the inside out.

family camping at campfire

Attack the Smell with Baking Soda

Baking soda is another one of those wonder products that can be used around the house with great results. Here is what you will need for this technique:

  • Washing machine. Either a top-loading or front-loading washing machine will do.
  • Hot water. Make sure the water is very hot for the reasons we have explained in detail above.
  • Detergent. Use a non-scented and non-abrasive detergent for this task, preferably a liquid detergent that has no added deodorizers or scents.
  • Baking Soda. For only a few articles of clothing, a half-cup of baking soda will work fine. However, if you intend to wash very heavy coats, jackets, blankets or sleeping bags, you will definitely need a full cup of baking soda.

Start the washing machine on the normal or heavy cycle (depending on the volume and thickness of the clothes or linens you are washing) and set the water temperature to the hottest setting the clothes will safely allow.

Remember, the hotter the water the better. Add in the detergent and wait for it to dissolve in the water.

When the washing machine is halfway full to ¾ full with water, add in either a half-cup or full cup of baking soda, depending on what you are washing, and once again close the door or lid to the washing machine and allow the cycle to run to completion.

Once the clothes have been washed and deodorized, you can dry them as you normally would.

For heavier items like blankets, sleeping bags and even pillows, make sure you check the instructions before placing them in a standard dryer.

camp fire at night

Other Methods to Try

There are of course other homemade solutions for getting that campfire smell out of clothes, most of which use the same normal-cycle, hot-water washing method as the techniques we described in detail above.

These methods include adding vodka to the water, and allowing the alcohol to take care of the smell; using an enzyme cleaner-hot-water mixture to hand wash your clothes; and simply hanging your clothes out on a hot sunny day and letting Mother Nature remove that campfire smell for you.

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