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How To Get Campfire Smoke Out of Your Hair and Clothes

No matter how hard you try, you’ll likely smell like campfire smoke after sitting around an open flame. It’s a small price to pay for roasting marshmallows, telling stories, and making memories with loved ones.

As enjoyable as these activities are, the distinct odor can be challenging to eliminate. Some tactics only mask smokey scents, while others don’t work at all.

Luckily, with a few of our tips and tricks, removing the scent is possible. You’ll be back to smelling fresh again before you know it.

Let’s dig in!

The Necessary Evil of a Good Campfire, Smoke

Campfires are an essential part of the camping experience. The warmth, the light, and the smell of burning wood all come together to create an atmosphere you can’t help but love. Unfortunately, one downside is the smoke they produce. 

While the aroma of a fire can be pleasant, it can linger on your hair and clothing. The duration of the scent can vary depending on the amount of time you spent near the fire, how close you were to it, and the materials of your clothes. Unfortunately, the scent can last days or weeks in many cases.

Campfire smoke can also harm your hair. It can leave you with a funky stench and make it feel dry and brittle. The particles can also cling to your lovely locks, making it harder to remove the smell.

Despite their drawbacks, the smell is an inevitable part of the camping experience. If you plan to camp regularly, you don’t have to deal with it. There are some ways that you can quickly get rid of these odors.

Washing Clothes to Remove Campfire Smoke Smells

The first and most obvious method is to wash your clothes. Use a regular laundry detergent and add a cup of white vinegar to the wash cycle. The vinegar helps to break down smoke particles and neutralize the smell. Add a quarter cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle for an extra boost. This’ll help remove any remaining scent and keep your fabrics fresh.

Another approach is to soak your items in water and vinegar. Add one cup of white vinegar to a bucket of water and soak them for an hour or two. Afterward, rinse them with fresh water and hang them to dry.

Lemon juice is also effective in these instances. Mix one part lemon juice with three parts water and soak clothes in the solution for an hour or two. Then rinse your outfits with fresh water and hang them to dry.

Whichever method you choose, always follow the washing and drying recommendations on the tag. If not, you could end up causing more harm than good.

Late evening campfire at a beatiful canadian chalet
Nothing is more classic than a roaring campfire while camping.

Get Rid of the Campfire Odor Out Without Washing Clothes

If you can’t wash your clothing, you can still use several strategies to remove stubborn odors, but they’ll likely require more work.

A straightforward method is to use a fabric freshener spray. Look for a product specifically designed to neutralize smells, and spray it directly onto your clothes. Follow the instructions on the product label. You can also make fabric freshener spray by mixing water and white vinegar in a spray bottle.

If you don’t have time for soaking or spraying, you can hang your items outside in the fresh air. This can help to dissipate the smell. You can also place them in a well-ventilated area or near an open window.

You can also use activated charcoal, which is known for its ability to absorb scents. Place a few pieces of activated charcoal in a mesh bag or old pantyhose in a sealed container with your wardrobe. Leave it for a day or two, and the charcoal will absorb the aroma.

Pro Tip: Use these tips on How to Build the Perfect Campfire to make the process quick and easy.

Get Campfire Smoke Out of Your Hair with Dry Methods

Getting campfire smoke out of your hair can be a bit trickier than removing it from clothes. However, several dry methods exist to freshen up your locks and eliminate the stink.

One option is to use dry shampoo. It’s a powder that absorbs oil and dirt and can also help absorb smells. Simply apply the dry shampoo to your entire head and brush it through. This helps remove any excess oil and odor, leaving you looking and smelling fresher.

The use of baking soda is another option to consider in a pinch. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto your scalp and massage it in. Let the baking soda sit for a few minutes, then brush it through to work it in further. Baking soda can help to absorb odor and leave you feeling cleaner.

In addition to these dry methods, you can also try airing out your hair. Brush your mane thoroughly and expose it to fresh air for a few hours. This’ll help to dissipate the odor.

Beautiful female traveler in wireless headphones holding smartphone and smiling while resting on sand near bonfire
Don’t get stuck smelling like campfire long after your camping trip ends.

Wet Methods to Remove Smoke from Your Hair 

If dry methods can’t remove campfire smoke, you can try one of these water-based techniques. In extreme cases, you may have to rely on both options.

The first and most obvious strategy is to wash your hair with shampoo. Use a shampoo specifically designed to remove odors or a clarifying shampoo that can remove buildup. Be sure to lather your entire head and rinse thoroughly.

Another option is to use apple cider vinegar. Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto your locks and scalp, and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water. 

You can also use lemon juice to remove scents. Spray equal parts water and lemon juice onto your head and scalp, and let it sit for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly with water and enjoy lemony-fresh follicles.

If you’re in a pinch and don’t have access to shampoo, vinegar, or lemon juice, you can use plain, fresh water. Soak your locks in a sink or bathtub filled with water, and massage your scalp to help remove the smells. Rinse thoroughly with fresh water, and repeat as necessary.

How to Avoid the Campfire Smoke 

While campfire smoke is an inevitable part of camping, there are a few ways to minimize exposure and avoid getting the smoke in your hair and clothes.

The first approach is to choose your campsite carefully. Try to stay upwind from the fire so it blows away from you. Additionally, avoid camping in areas with stagnant air, such as valleys or low-lying areas, as it can linger in these areas.

Another option is to use a portable smokeless fire pit or a propane stove instead of a traditional campfire. These alternatives produce less smoke and can be more efficient.

If sitting around a fire, position yourself as far away from the fire as possible. This’ll reduce your exposure. Additionally, avoid wearing clothes made from materials that readily absorb smells, such as cotton or wool, and opt for synthetic materials instead.

Charming female traveler enjoying hot drink while resting near bonfire in the woods
Keep your hair and clothes smoke-smell free by easily removing odors after your camping trip.

These Tricks Don’t Work to Remove Odors 

Many effective tricks and methods exist to remove campfire odor from your hair and clothing, but a few tactics don’t work. For example, one common myth is to spray perfume or cologne onto your fabrics or hair to remove them. 

While this may temporarily mask the scent, it won’t remove it altogether. The combination of perfume and smoke can create an unpleasant and overpowering smell, and sometimes, this combination can be worse than dealing with the original scent.

Another technique that doesn’t work is regular fabric softener or dryer sheets. They don’t effectively remove odors from clothes. While these products may leave your outfits smelling fresh and clean, they don’t break down smoke particles or neutralize the situation.

Finally, while some may suggest using tomato juice to remove odor from hair, this is also a myth. Tomato juice may temporarily mask the situation but doesn’t effectively remove it.

You’re likely wasting your time if you opt for these approaches. Instead, try one of the proven methods we’ve shared, like washing with vinegar, baking soda, or specialized odor-removing products.

Pro Tip: Don’t waste your relaxation time building a fire. Use one of these 5 Best Campfire Starters.

Stay Fresh with These Proven Methods

Campfire smoke can leave an unpleasant odor on your clothes and hair, but there are many effective ways to remove it. From washing with vinegar to using dry shampoo on your hair, there are a variety of tricks and techniques to help freshen up your belongings after a camping trip.

Don’t let these smells stop you from making memories with your loved ones. Enjoying camping without worrying about lingering odor on your hair and fabrics is possible. However, now you know how to handle the situations when they occur.

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