How to Get Smoke Smell Out of a Camper

Campers, vans, and other mobile houses have one flaw — they easily absorb smells from their surrounding. Whether it’s smoke from a campfire or cigarettes, once it gets into the camper, the smoke molecules will reach all surfaces: mattresses, curtains, blankets, pillows, clothes — everything.

Ventilation and air refreshers can help reduce the smoke smell temporarily, but the bedding, furniture, mattresses, curtains, and cushions will still be affected by the smoke odor molecules.

In some of our previous articles, you can find out how to get the smoke smell out of hair and how to get the campfire smoke smell out of clothes.

Today, we’ll get more into the details on how to get the smoke smell out of a camper.

How to Get Smoke Smell Out of a Camper

Two types of smoke smell commonly affect campers and other mobile homes: smoke from a campfire and cigarette smoke.

Either way, the smoke smell will make your wheel home feel unpleasant and unhealthy. Removing the smoke smell from your RV can be straightforward if you follow our guide. The following tips are some of the most effective solutions for a camper’s interior.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil is an inexpensive yet potent method for removing the smoke smell from any surface.

You only need a few drops on a damp cloth, and you can start scrubbing gently all the surfaces in your RV. But if you feel this is not enough, as too many surfaces have been affected, you can spread the tea tree oil more effectively by putting it into an essential oil diffuser.

If you’re unsure which type of tea tree oil to use, we recommend chemicals-free products because you can later use these as skin and hair masks, for massage, etc.

Dryer Sheets

You probably didn’t know this before, but you can use dryer sheets to remove unwanted smells from clothes, curtains, seat upholstery, and other fabrics. However, keep in mind that they are not cleaners. They absorb and help remove smoke odor molecules but won’t clean your furniture.

Dryer sheets come with various scents, but since lavender and citrus smells are the best at neutralizing the smoke smell, we recommend you go with those options. If you don’t want another scent to replace the smell of smoke, you can also use scent-free dryer sheets.

To apply dryer sheets on smoke-affected items in your camper, take all pillows, pillowcases, clothes, and other affected items and place them in a plastic bag. Add several dryer sheets inside, seal the bag, and let it sit for a few days. The dryer sheets will absorb the odor.

Late Night Airing

Open windows or doors as often as possible (or practical) to improve ventilation, especially at night. The breeze and the smell of fresh air can be very helpful in removing or at least reducing the smoke smell in your camper.

Important: Due to safety concerns, don’t leave your camper open the whole night — half an hour to an hour before bed it’s enough.

All bonfires are usually put out at night, so it’s wise to use this opportunity to ventilate your camper. Also, if you’re up very early in the morning, that’s another excellent opportunity to use the morning breeze to let the fresh air in.

Wax Melters

Wax melters are alternatives for candles that have gained popularity over the past few years. A wax melter, also known as a “wax warmer” or “wax burner,” is a device used to melt scented wax to release its fragrance into the air. They usually smell amazing, and you don’t need to light them up to make the wax melt.

To use wax melts to remove odors from your camper, place the wax melters in the melter’s tray and then turn the melter on. Let it work for two to four hours while keeping an eye on it for safety reasons.

However, you shouldn’t use the wax melter when driving because if it spills, you will have a hard time cleaning it up. And, although there’s no open fire, you shouldn’t leave it unattended.

Wax melters look very stylish and enrich the interior of your camper. They efficiently remove the smell in case of mild exposure but will probably only mask it in more severe exposures.

Clean Everything

Regardless of which DIY trick you choose, you can’t escape the cleaning part. It’s an essential (and sometimes sufficient) step in the smoke-smell removal process.

All the hard work from the other tips mentioned in this article will be for nothing if you don’t thoroughly clean the objects and the whole interior of your camper. Smoke odor particles can persistently linger for weeks or years, especially on soft objects.

We won’t go into too much detail since we’ve written separate guides for removing smoke from different materials. However, we’ll provide valuable resources and briefly explain what needs to be washed from the camper to ensure it remains free from smoke smells.


Take all of the removable cushions from the camper. Then, remove the cases (if possible) and wash them with a plant-based bio laundry detergent for a better after-wash scent. In case of after-wash residual smell, sunbathe them for a few hours.

Curtains or Blinds

Most campers have curtains or blinds inside, and smoke odor molecules can linger on them for a long time if you don’t clean them.

If your camper has curtains, take them off, and wash them, just like you did with the cushions. If the smoke smell is persistent, sunbathing should work here as well.

If your curtains are not washable, you can resort to solutions such as fabric spray, baking soda, or distilled white vinegar.

You can wipe the blinds with vinegar and let it air out or put the curtains in a plastic bag with two or three cups of baking soda, seal the bag, and leave it for a few days.


If possible, camper rugs should be removed, washed, and sundried. If the rugs are not removable, you should clean them inside, which is slightly more inconvenient.

To wash the rugs, you follow these steps:

  • Vacuum the rug thoroughly.
  • Review the care instructions provided by the manufacturer.
  • If no restrictions are emphasized, wash the rug in the washing machine with a bio-friendly mild laundry detergent on a delicate program. You can add a cup of vinegar inside to help with odor neutralization.
  • If you must hand wash the rugs, fill a large basin with cool water, add a cup or two of mild detergent, and gently swirl the rug. Rinse with cold water thoroughly.
  • If the rug is soaked in water, you can cover it with towels to absorb the moisture. Then, put it outside to sundry (not under the direct and strong sun). This will additionally help remove the smoke odor molecules.
  • After washing it, apply an essential oil-water solution with a spraying bottle or baking soda. The baking soda should sit in for a few hours or days, after which you can vacuum clean it.

Vinyl Surfaces

Cleaning vinyl surfaces and removing smoke smell from them can be tricky. However, there are several solutions you can try for treating odor-affected vinyl.

First, you can give store-bought sprays for vinyl surfaces a chance. If pieces of vinyl furniture can be moved outside the camper, use that opportunity to air them out and expose them to the sun. However, be careful, as vinyl can’t stay long in the sun — up to half an hour is okay.

If you prefer some home-based solutions, use a mixture of washing soda, white vinegar (ideally distilled), and ammonia dissolved in one gallon of hot water. Dip a soft sponge or a cotton cloth in the solution and gently wipe vinyl surfaces. Follow up by wiping the surface with a dry mop, as you shouldn’t let the moisture sit for a long time.

If the smoke smell is still there, repeat this process a few times.

Also, if you have some leather pieces inside of your camper, look at our article on how to get smoke smell out of leather for more advice. Leather requires special treatment, as it can be damaged by many of the standard cleaning procedures for other materials.

Wood Surfaces

Wood surfaces are best cleaned with dedicated wood cleaners, preferably citrus-based. An excellent alternative is washing them with warm water and oil soap for wood cleaning.

If the wooden furniture in your camper is severely affected by the smell, you should check out our dedicated article on how to remove the smoke smell from wood furniture.


The bedding is another highly absorbent item in the camper, and to set it free from smoke odors, you can wash it in the washing machine with lukewarm water and a mild detergent by soaking it into a basic or on a delicate program.

If the mattress has also absorbed the smell, the cleaning procedure is the same as for the rugs.


When it comes to camper hygiene, many people neglect the awning, and this part is most often exposed to the smoke from campfires. The good side is that it usually doesn’t collect smoke odor molecules so easily, but it may start smelling after a while.

Before cleaning it, check out the manufacturer’s specifications for the material. You can apply the baking soda solution or the tea tree oil if made of fabric. If the awning is vinyl, go with the soap and water solution or the dedicated vinyl cleaner.

After you’re done with the cleaning, leave the awning open until you’re confident that it’s completely dry. Otherwise, mold and mildew may surprise you the next time you use it.


Electric appliances like fridges, ovens, and showers can absorb smoke smell, too. You can clean them with a store-bought cleaning solution or with a mixture of essential oils and baking soda with water. Distilled white vinegar works well too.

Don’t forget to unplug the appliances from the sockets while cleaning them!

When cleaning the appliances, wipe both the insides and outsides multiple times with a soft mop soaked in the solution or vinegar.

If the appliances are left moist, you shouldn’t immediately close them. Instead, let the water evaporate. Harsh cleaning chemicals and tools are also not recommended. These can damage both the electronics and the body of the device.

For smaller plastic appliances, read our guide on how to remove smoke smell from plastic electronics. Here, you’ll find valuable insights and detailed explanations on how to clean them.


A camper smelling like a campfire or cigarette smoke is not a nice place to spend time or sleep. In addition, it’s also unhealthy as smoke smell is considered third-hand smoke and indicates the presence of tobacco toxins.

Removing the smoke smell out of the camper might be possible with simple ventilation, but when it’s not, you’re in for some heavy-duty cleaning work on all the affected surfaces and objects.

To successfully remove the smell from your camper, you can try lighter methods like wiping the surfaces with tea tree oil and spreading it using a diffuser, dryer sheets, or wax melters.

Of course, give your camper and the items in it a thorough wash before anything else.

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