There’s nothing like an evening under the stars with the warmth of a roaring fire. It’s peaceful and energizing at the same time. But, where there’s fire, there’s smoke. And, campfire smoke likes to soak into your skin, hair, and the fibers of your clothes.

Down to the Fabric of Campfire Smoke

Quick-dry fabrics like nylon, polyester and merino wool are great for camping and outdoor activities for their weight, moisture wicking, ease of washing by hand, sun protection, and wrinkle resistance. They aren’t always the best choice for sitting around the campfire if sparks are flying. One spark to a new LuLulemon® or REI® favorite can be costly.

With T-shirts and sweatshirts, sparks aren’t as damaging, but campfire smoke particles love to grab ahold of cotton blends. Not to worry, you won’t have to diminish your joy of camping by fussing with campfire clothes.

Washing Away the Campfire Smell From Clothes

When hand washing clothing at your camp site, getting rid the smell of the campfire from your favorite hoodie can be tricky. But we have a few tips as back to basics as camping itself:  

  • The VODKA method: Mix up a 1:4 vodka to water ratio and warm it over the campfire. Put it in a spray bottle and spray it evenly over the garment you want to treat. Then, simply hang somewhere to dry.
  • Lemon Juice Treatment: Cut three lemons and squeeze into an airtight bag. Add rinds, water, and the smoky clothes and seal the bag for a few hours. Remove and hang to dry out of humidity if possible.
  • The Sun and Wind: Rinse your garment in warm, clean water and hang it in a sunny breeze.
  • Pure-Castile Liquid Soap: This old school soap is concentrated and eco-friendly. You need to use just little, and it’s great for laundry, dishes, and skin. Wash in a bin, rinse thoroughly, and hang on a line to dry.
    • Please note: When emptying the bin of soapy water after washing, spread out the water evenly and stay at least 50 yards away from natural water sources like streams and lakes.

Believe it or not, Vodka, lemons, UV light, and pure-castile all help to breakdown the smoke chemical compounds that absorb into fabrics. 

Post-camping clothes washing at home:

  • Try to get your smoky clothes in the wash right away.
  • Add one cup of white vinegar or ½ cup of baking soda in the washing machine.  
  • If you have newer machines, like the Speed Queen® TR7 washer you can count on a deep, odor-eliminating clean.

A Clean Campsite Can Mean Many Things

Look out for the environment and be eco-friendly with all cleaning products. Remember to wash dishes right after use to keep bugs and critters away. Leave your campsite as, or better, than you found it. And keep your waste to a minimum, carrying out anything not compostable. Keep these tips in mind and your next campfire story will be truly memorable.