The Surprising Truth About Getting Campfire Smell Out of Your Clothes

Campfire on a beach next to a lake with a forest in the background

It doesn’t seem like a campout unless there’s a campfire.

Last year at a summer campout, I think I demonstrated what I’m willing to do to enjoy a campfire.

It was in the 90s and I built a small campfire because it was a group campout with kids. When there are kids around, we try to have a campfire so they can roast hotdogs and make s’mores because it’s more fun.

But when it’s hot outside, the last thing you want is a warm campfire. But I had deployed my secret weapon.

Behind my chair, I ran my misting fan. So I was keeping myself cool while tending to the fire.

But a downside to campfires is that they leave your clothes smelling like a campfire.

There are three ways to remove this smell.

The first way is to use hot water with your favorite detergent at home. The hotter the water, the better your detergent will work because the fibers expand to expose more of their surface area to the cleaning chemicals.

The second way is to add a cup of white vinegar to your washing water. The acid in vinegar dissolves the chemicals that cause the odor left behind after a campfire. This is another reason to keep a jug of white vinegar on hand at all times. It is a multi-purpose non-toxic liquid.

A third way is to add a cup of baking soda to your washing machine after it has started to run. The baking soda works similar to vinegar but since it’s a powder, you might find it easier to measure. Or you might not like the smell of a cup of vinegar as you apply it to your washing machine.

If you are in the field and want to remove the smell without a washing machine there is another way.

You need a bottle of Vodka though. Wash your clothes with a cup of vodka and some warm water. The alcohol will also weaken the bonds of the campfire smelling chemicals with your clothes.

But your clothes will smell like a night at the club for a few hours until the booze evaporates.

Speaking of smells, you need to be careful with having food smells in your tent when camping around bears.

Learn more in my course “Camping With Bears”.

I’m Mark Wilcox and I once backpacked 100 miles in 90 days. After 25 years in IT, I wanted more adventure in my life. I want to inspire you to add more adventure too.

Thank you for subscribing to my content. I share content about camping, backpacking, and outdoor survival.

--

--

I once backpacked 100 miles in 90 days. After 25 years in IT, I wanted more adventure in my life. I want to inspire you to add more adventure too.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Mark Wilcox

I once backpacked 100 miles in 90 days. After 25 years in IT, I wanted more adventure in my life. I want to inspire you to add more adventure too.