If you just got rained on and totally wet after a long hunting day, you might wonder how to wash hunting clothes (and what to use to keep your scent free).

In this guide, we’ll show you 7 tips to wash your hunting clothes properly and avoid spooking your prey early. Here they are:

How to Wash Hunting Clothes

How to Wash Your Hunting Clothes Scent Free:

1. Wash Your Hunting Clothes Often:

A deer can smell the slightest odor on your clothes. Consider your hunting dog, whose senses outweigh your nose by 40 times.

Then consider a wild animal, which has 77 million more olfactory receptors than your hunting dog.

hunting clothes

So how often should you wash?

If you want to gain an edge in the field, you must wash your clothes after every hunt to lessen your scent.

Here’s why:

Your body odor, coffee, mustard, or smoke from a campfire can create an alarming fog of scent, spreading downwind each time you venture for a new hunt.

Wearing hunting clothes a few times accumulates body odor in the fabric blowing your cover.

The dirt on your clothes could also reduce your technical fabric's capabilities.

Regularly cleaning your gear is one of the proper gear maintenance to help enhance its longevity.

2. Pick the Right Detergent:

Most modern laundry products, including detergents and fabric softeners, contain added scents and UV brighteners to make clothes more appealing to you.

Unfortunately, reindeer can detect UV-brightened clothes even in dim light.

You should purchase brightener-free and perfume-free detergents like 4X laundry detergent for your hunting gear.

ScentLok Liquid Alloy Laundry Detergent

Via Amazon.com

How to distinguish them?

Read the labels carefully, as some may be marked as natural or eco-friendly detergents, yet they may contain some dyes.

Consider military-approved detergents and special detergents for hunters.

There are also spray-on scent eliminators for your clothing, gear, and skin. Some, like Scent Assasin, will even add a dirt scent to your clothes.

What if I don’t have MUCH budget?

There are 3 detergents you can use to wash your hunting clothes based on your budget and experience. These include:

  1. Hunting clothes detergents: They are more expensive, but they save you time and remove scents from clothes
  2. Perfume- and die-free detergents: These are cheaper, but you must know the best product to buy
  3. Baking soda: It's the cheapest, but you must scoop the right amount to ensure your garments are clean.

3. Prep your Washing Machine:

Prep your Washing Machine


(Yep, new vocabulary for you 🙂 )

You don't typically buy a washing machine just for your hunting clothes. You'll use the one your family uses for their weekly laundry.

This has plenty of residual odors, fabric softeners, and detergents from washing clothes with scented products.

It might be hard to convince your family to use unscented detergents all season long.

So, you must find ways to remove the residual detergents from your machine before washing your gear.

Here are a few useful tips for you:

You can wash a handful of household towels using a non-scented detergent can help eliminate the residual detergents.

Some hunters claim this method is effective and easy to execute.

You can also use detergent cleaning tablets. Here are some steps you can follow:

  • Buy commercial detergent cleaning tablets like Active Washing Machine Cleaner.
  • On your washing machine, start a hot water cycle to remove any detergents from previous laundry.
  • When the cycle ends, keep the machine door open for about 30 minutes to let it air dry.

If you're not sure about this, you can consider using a large tubing, sink, or basin rather than the family washer.

4. Soak the Hunting Clothes:

soak the clothes

Why do you need it?

Before washing your clothes, it's good to soak them to remove the most stubborn stains. In my opinion, this is the best way to wash your hunting close scent free.

Here are some tips to remove stains from your clothes:

  • Blood stains: Soak the clothes for 1 to 6 hours in cold water, depending on the stain persistency.
  • Rust stains: Hold the spot with the stain and soak it with white vinegar for some minutes then blot out the liquid.
  • Grease stains: Using a paper towel, blot the spot then coat it in corn starch. Allow it to dry overnight, and gently brush the grease off.
  • Grass stains: Using some toothpaste and a toothbrush, remove the grass stain with small soft strokes.

5. Wash in Washing Machine Properly:

wash in washing machine

Here are the steps to follow while washing your clothes properly:

  1. Separate your gear based on fabrics. The rule of thumb is to wash wool and synthetic clothes separately.
  2. Sprinkle your detergent in the washing machine directly on your hunting clothes.
  3. Set the machine’s water cycle temperature to cold and start cleaning your first pile.
  4. Repeat the process for the next pile until you don't notice any odors from your clothes.

Using the cold temperature protects sensitive fabrics and helps the detergent do its job.

It doesn't hurt to second rinse to make sure all detergents are gone.

6. Air-Dry Your Hunting Clothes:

dry the pant at room temperature

Most hunters use a clothesline under a shade to dry their attire. It's effective as it doesn't add toxic chemicals to clothes or shrink the material.

It also exposes your clothes to natural odors, making them unnoticeable by wild animals.

When and how to use a dryer?

You can use a dryer during the cold season, but don't use fabric softener or dryer sheets.
Buy scent-removing and dirt-scented dryer sheets if you must use them.

The dryer might be useful for people who reside in smelly areas like near restaurants or gas stations.

What if your dryer gets smelly?

If you smell detergent or perfume inside your dryer, clean the lint trap and drum with a clean cloth soaked in white vinegar to eliminate the scent.

Allow the vinegar to dry, and make sure you can’t smell it anymore.

7. Store Your Hunting Clothes:

Storage is perhaps the most critical step when washing your hunting clothes.

Why is it important?

If left without proper storage, clothes can absorb the odors of the house, collect some dirt when dropped on the floor, and turn all your hard work into naught.

How to solve it?

You should store them in a scent-free storage bag, vacuum bag, or airtight container.

Dead Down Wind Scent Prevent Bag

Via Amazon.com

You can store early-season and late-season pieces, saving you time to reorganize your gear.

This helps you reduce the number of times you open and close the containers.

Even more:

Deers can smell mold. So, make sure you store your clothes well in a controlled environment that's cool and dry to prevent moisture from absorbing into your garments.

You can also put baking soda near the clothes for extra protection.

Bonus Tips:

Whether you're cleaning your hunting clothes after a successful hunt or you want to store your garments clean for the next hunting season, it's best to wash them using the right equipment.

You might waste a lot of time and resources if you fail to follow the right procedure.

Make sure you follow these instructions keenly to avoid getting spotted easily by prey on your hunt.

Before getting dressed, remember to clean up with odor-neutralizing shampoo and soap.

Isoplus Neutralizing Shampoo and Conditioner, 8 fl oz

Via Amazon.com

Brush your teeth well, and don't put on your clothes until you're at the hunting site.

So what do you think about our tips of “how to wash hunting clothes”? Rate us below.

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Robert Gate, a hunter from Texas and Founder of ArcheryTopic.

I first learned archery from my dad when I was 12 years old. He gave me a Mathew bow as a gift and instantly fell in love with the pursuit.