If you've been hunting for a while, you probably already know to avoid scented laundry detergents when washing your hunting clothes. That's only the beginning of what's needed. It's not only scent that can give you, or your location away to the game animals you hunt, it's also your hunting clothes' brightness that could be making them notice that you are lurking around the hunting woods. Yes, your hunting clothing's UV brightness could be your Achilles heel in the hunting woods – more on that topic further down.

Here are our best tips on how to clean your hunting clothes and to help you gain that extra edge needed to bag that trophy whitetail deer you’ve been scouting this deer hunting season. 

Picking The Best Detergent for Hunting Clothes

Truth is that the easiest and cheapest way of washing your hunting clothing is to simply soak your hunting clothes in a bucket of water and baking soda, before washing them in a machine with a scent-free laundry detergent. This by far was one of the most commonly used methods by hunters for washing their hunting clothing for years, and it still can to this day help to lower your scent signature in the woods.

Now, if you do not want to go that route you can opt to shop at your local discount store for some basic laundry detergent to wash your hunting clothes in. Most laundry detergents that are labeled as "natural," "eco-friendly," or "sensitive skin" do not contain UV brighteners or perfumes. So, take your time to read labels to be sure you are buying a laundry detergent that is free of any brighteners or perfumes.

When you can afford to do so it’s always the best choice to buy and use hunting clothing laundry detergents that have been specially formulated for washing your hunting clothing.

UV Brightness in Hunting Clothing

According to “How Game Animals See and Smell,” an infographic by Jay Neitz, Ph.D. - a Vision Scientist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, many of the camouflage hunting clothes we buy often contain UV brighteners to make them more appealing to our eyes – thus encouraging us to buy them.

Then due to human nature and our desire to keep things looking fresh and new we then end up using laundry detergents that will help us to remove odors; but that also contain fabric brighteners that help to keep our everyday street clothes looking their best. These types of laundry detergents should be avoided at all costs when it comes to washing your hunting clothing.

The reason for this is the fact that wild animals such, as deer, elk, moose, etc. can detect UV brightness due to the given make-up of their keen eye-sight.

However, with the vast number of advancements in hunting technology, many hunting brands have developed specialized UV control laundry detergents for hunters.

Most serious hunters will buy laundry detergents specifically formulated for hunting clothing that help to reduce the UV signature of the clothing and to help in the elimination of human and foreign odors.

Many of these same companies that produce hunting clothing laundry detergents also make spray-on scent eliminators for hunting clothing, hunting gear, and even odor-eliminating deodorants.

How Deer See Colors - Hunting Clothing

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The Proper Way to Wash Your Hunting Clothing

Alright, now that you have settled on a scent-free and UV control laundry detergent for your hunting clothing - it's now time for you to learn how to wash your hunting clothing.

Along with using the right type of laundry detergent for your hunting clothing, below are other critical laundry tips that will help give you that extra edge in the deer woods:

Before you wash your hunting gear in the family washing machine, you should clean it thoroughly. Run a wash cycle or two with a little bit of the hunting laundry detergent or better yet a little bit of baking soda to help clean any of the odors that might be in the washing machine. It's very important to do your best to rid the washing machine of any orders or scents leftover from everyday laundry detergents and fabric softeners, which can ruin your process and reasons for cleaning your hunting clothing.

Once you’re fairly assured the washing machine is clean; you can then start washing your hunting clothing. If you’re not using a scent eliminator with your hunting clothing wash; you can opt for adding one cup of baking soda to the final rinse water. Adding one cup of baking soda to your rinse water will help to reduce or eliminate odors from your hunting clothing.

If you do decide to wash your hunting clothes in a washing machine, make sure to load the machine, as light as possible to get the best possible clean and odor removal.

The best way to make sure odor elimination happens. We encourage hunters to consider washing their hunting clothes by hand in a large utility sink or tub making use of a top brand odor and UV eliminating laundry detergent for hunting clothing.

For drying your hunting clothing. We have found that the best method is to air-dry your hunting clothing on an outdoor drying rack or clothesline.

Now that you have your hunting clothes properly washed and dried you should store your hunting clothing in a sealed plastic bag or tub to prevent foreign odors from reattaching themselves to the hunting clothes from your home or vehicle.

Don't Forget to Wash Everything Else

It's very important now that you have your hunting clothes properly washed, dried, and stored safely in a sealed and scent-free manner. You should make sure that you use the same types of hunting detergents and washing techniques for all of your other hunting gear such as sleeping bags, hand towels, game bags, and the like before you head to the deer woods.

How To Wash Hunting Clothes

Other Useful Hunting Tips

Most of the useful hunting tips we’re sharing should not have to be said. However, we know many new hunters (and some old veteran hunters) will overlook them in the excitement of getting ready for the hunting season, so we are adding them below:

It's not (never) a good idea to use dryer sheets or fabric softeners when washing or machine drying your hunting clothing or hunting gear.

You should wash your hunting clothes often to prevent the build-up of body odor.

When transporting your hunting clothing always make sure to store your hunting clothes in a sealed bag or tub until you arrive at your hunting stand or camp.

For the best chances of keeping human odor from your hunting clothing, you should always wear rubber gloves to prevent the transfer of foreign scents and human odors.

This honestly should go without saying. But, do not wear your hunting clothing while driving to your hunting spot, while pumping gas, or getting a bite to eat before heading out into the woods.

Don't Forget to Wash Everything Else

It's very important now that you have your hunting clothes properly washed, dried, and stored safely in a sealed and scent-free manner. You should make sure that you use the same types of hunting detergents and washing techniques for all of your other hunting gear such as sleeping bags, hand towels, game bags, and the like before you head to the deer woods.

Should You Wash New Hunting Clothes?

Yes, you should wash new hunting clothes before going hunting. Similar to the information listed about, you want to eliminate any unwanted smells that might be present on your clothing. 

Additionally, many hunting brands add the following chemicals to their clothing before being sold:

Stain Repellents

Color Fasteners

Anti-Wrinkle Agents

Softness Enhancers


In Conclusion

Hunters every year try to bag wild game animals to put food on the table for themselves and their families, but other hunters take to the woods with high hopes of bagging a trophy game animal and others just go hunting for the pure pleasure of being out.

The one thing all of these types of hunters have in common is the fact that they all need to reduce or even eliminate odors from their hunting clothing.

By following our simple steps for cleaning your hunting clothes all hunters will have a better chance of seeing and bagging more game animals when they hit the woods and fields in the coming hunting season.

For our blog about the Best Deer Hunting Blinds click here