View Full Version : How to clean gear?

11-02-2003, 18:03
Well I've been done for a couple months now and my stuff still reeks. Is there anyway to D-Funk-D-fy the gear? Particularly my pack stinks. Normal air drying and washing machines is not cutting it. Thanks

11-02-2003, 20:55
A-Train ...had the same issue with my backpack. I filled the bathtub with luke warm water and added a little Lysol. I let it soak for a while and then I forced the water in and out of the fabric, especially the shoulder straps and hip belt. I was amazed at what came out of the material. Can't say that the backpack is now odorless but it's way better than it was.

11-02-2003, 21:11
What the heck did you thru-hikers get into this year? ;) If you shave all the hair off of it and it still stinks, maybe you should try an exorcist.


11-02-2003, 22:36
It rained, well...A LOT!

Trail Yeti
11-03-2003, 00:16
The smell will never go completely away....you might hold it at bay for a while, but as soon as you use it again, and start to sweat on it again....BAM it stinks again.
I have heard that febreeze will help, as well as the tub thing. Also, try washing your clothes in vinegar as well as soap...this worked on almost everything....

11-03-2003, 09:25
I washed my pack three times in water and soap before sending it back to ULA to get repaired. Picked it up at the Gathering. Jokes were being made by others at the fair about how bad it stunk. The only parts of it that don't smell are the new pads that Brian put on the hipbelt and shoulder straps and the mesh pocket.

11-03-2003, 09:54
At some point you don't have much, if anything to lose. I tried saturating my pack with febreese and it basically just covered the smell temporarily with perfumes. What seemed to work was to run it through a washing machine and dryer, and dry it well (that's my version of an excorcism). My thinking was that you have some living mold, mildew, bacteria or whatever that you basically have to kill while not destroying your pack. Like I said, that is brutal and I won't suggest it if you have other safer options. I think I got rid of the offensive odor but I now use a smaller/lighter pack and the one I used on my thru-hike resides in my closet... but I don't think it reeks anymore.


11-03-2003, 11:49
IF ALL ELSE FAILS, you could try this...but first a few words to explain how I learned about it.

A friend had done a section hike in Shenandoah, and while in a shelter had a fight with a skunk--and the skunk won. It was mid-winter, and he had his bivy set up in the shelter. The bivy took most of the skunk's revenge, and was proving impossible to de-skunk.

Enter Rusty of Hard Time Hollow. We were visiting, and he said to BURY the bivy in a shallow grave, fully covered, for at least a week. We thought "This is crazy", but when an old mountain man speaks maybe you oughta listen.

It worked! We dug up the "grave," and sure 'nough, no skunk odor. It needed washed of course to get the dirt/mud out, but no more skunk odor!

Could not this also get rid of hiker funk? Like I said, IF ALL ELSE FAILS, why not try?

Saluki Dave
11-03-2003, 12:02
I remember reading a couple of years ago about a chemist who had developed a method for dealing with bad odors by oxidizing the bad smelling compounds. I don't remember the exact formula, but it involved a bit of dishwashing liquid, hydrogen peroxide and (I think) baking soda. It was remarakably effective on skunk spray and some other tough odors. Maybe a web search would turn something up?

11-03-2003, 12:06
I thought someone (the same folks that make the down cleaner???) made a emzyne cleaner that is suppose to rid gear of body funk.

Saluki Dave
11-03-2003, 12:08
Following snipped from:


Here's the skunk info:

skunk deodorant:
1 U.S. quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide=20
1/4 cup of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
1 teaspoon liquid soap (liquid laundry detergent, liquid dishwashing soap)
DO NOT add water!

Skunk essence is made of sulfur molecules. When combined, the materials the recipe forms an alkaline peroxide, which chemically changes the skunk essence into sulfonic acid, a completely odorless chemical. The soap breaks down the oily skunk essence and makes it more susceptible to the other ingredients.

Paul Krebaum, chemist, Lisle, Illinois
from Wildlife Control Technology, July - August 1994, p.46

For safety's sake keep the solution away from the eyes, nose, and mouth of both pets and people.

A subsequent search conformed the utility of this formula on odors other than skunk.


Good luck,


11-03-2003, 12:56
You might try a product called L.O.C. It's an Amway product so you'll have to find a distributor to get some (don't know if they direct sell on the web).

So far it's been good at de-stinkning my shirts. I use warm water and LOC and let it soak for a few hours. I don't know if it will work for 5 months of trail smell.

11-03-2003, 17:48
Add a splash of vinegar to your washing machine. This seemed to help a little and it is a simple solution.

11-03-2003, 18:01
I've defunked hats with an ozone air purifier. After 1/2 hour no more smell. Should work on a backpack as well. Others use it for sanitizing and freshening pillows, etc. Expensive to buy one $400-$500 but I think would do the job.

tortoise from vt
11-03-2003, 22:00
after the various washing options that you try, take some dryer sheets and pin or tape them to the straps and the back of your pack where it has been soaking up the sweat, and to any other parts that still smell - set it out of the way for a couple of months - this will deodorize and it seems to last - good also for really smelly footwear - leave them with dryer sheets inside for several days

11-03-2003, 23:09
Is this the same Tortoise from vermont I stayed with at stony brook shelter in Vermont on 6/19?

tortoise from vt
11-04-2003, 07:20
yes it is

11-04-2003, 18:53
Last resort...ceremonial burning.

Sleepy the Arab
11-04-2003, 19:40
I'm not sure why people are so big on the de-funkifying of gear. Nothing like an old smell of the thru-hike to bring back memories. Or tears to the eyes. But not the good kind of tears. More the stinging, burning, "someone stuffed a raw onion up my nose!" kind of tears.

But seriously, it's not a terribly bad smell. I tend to think of it as a badge of honor - you can't get this funk through dayhiking or the occasional overnighter. This is a "hey, I thru-hiked something fella" smell and I'm kind of proud about it. Keep the Reek! Anyone else feel this way?

11-05-2003, 09:07
A similar discussion is posted under GENERAL GEAR / GETTING THRE STINK OUT? I posted the following... This worked very well for me...

"Thanks to all who gave advice...I was intrigued by the car-wash appoach...sounded like fun as well! As for the Vinegar, I was a little afraid that the Vinegar smell would be hard to get out...

After querying Dana, this is what I did.

1. completely diassembled the pack: hipbelt, shoulder straps, etc were taken off. Opened all pockets and so forth.

2. Soaked in warm water to which a generous amount of Woolite had been added..I soaked for about 30-40 minutes agitating by hand every once in a while. The water turned black from all the accumulated grime and dirt.

3. Rinsed thoroughly inside and out with a garden hose.

4. Hung in shade, upside down, to drain and dry.

5. At this point, the bag smelled fine, but, as I had already purchased a small bottle of McNett Mirazyme, I went the next step and soaked the pack for five minutes in warm water and Mirazyme and hung to dry without rinsing.

6. Stuffed a couple of sleeping bags in the dry pack to fill it out then applied a good coat of Techtron DWR to restore water repllency..

It worked well though I could have skipped the Mirazyme step..Result: a nice smelling bag, absolutely clean, with water repellency restored and no harm to the pack..

Thanks again for the replies..."

Blue Jay
11-05-2003, 09:24
I hate the fact that out here I can't smell people before I see them, or even worse you get that dead flower, funeral parlor smell from women (and even some men). There is nothing better than the smell of a shelter full of hikers in Maine on a hot rainy night. That is how real humans smell, not as machines that the working world wants.

Trail Yeti
11-05-2003, 10:32
Blue Jay, that reminds me of when I was in NY....I was going up and down those little hilly bump ridges things, and right after a road, I smelled something that smelled really good...kept getting a whif, and then it got really strong...
it smelled like....a woman fresh out of the shower. In about 2 minutes I caught up to a couple of weekenders...I asked them how many days they were staying out, and if they just got out this morning. The woman looked at me like I was crazy and said we have been out 2 days already, why? I said because you smell good, I smelled you for 10 minutes before I caught up to you!!! She thought I was a stalker or something....it was really funny!

11-05-2003, 21:38
its those wet wipes some weekenders use (grin)

11-10-2003, 01:04
And enjoy whatever smell remains. . .after all, you EARNED that stank.

Hammock Hanger
11-10-2003, 13:51
:sun I took my pack to the car wash. Clipped it to the wall and power washed it, rinsed and left out on my patio for a few days to dry. It came out so clean and sweet smelling it is hard to believe it was ever really on the AT for all those months....was I really there or was it all a dream..... Hammock Hanger

11-16-2003, 21:52
:sun I took my pack to the car wash. Clipped it to the wall and power washed it, rinsed and left out on my patio for a few days to dry. It came out so clean and sweet smelling it is hard to believe it was ever really on the AT for all those months....was I really there or was it all a dream..... Hammock Hanger

this sounds like the best idea to me because the pressure will penetrate the thick spongy waiste straps and shoulder straps, i would also go as far as soaking in the tub with woolite first.

Hammock Hanger, do you just use water or do you use the high pressure car wash soap too?

Rhody Bill
11-17-2003, 21:11
Wallyworld sells a detergent in the hunting section for de-scenting synthetics ($4 for 18 loads) been using it for a while and it seems to work.

11-18-2003, 10:13
with drawn

11-24-2003, 20:23
Can someone tell me how to clean inside the hose of my msr stove?

Pull the rough lining in and out a couple of times, wiping it off with a white-gas soaked rag each time. MSR calls this "scouring" and it works pretty well.


12-11-2003, 11:43
A product called ODOBAN works really well. Had a sick cat piss on the carpets repeatedly. We added this product to the rug cleaner and it took the smell out. It has a variety of applications, even laundry. I've used it on my hiking clothes and it works great. I found it at Sam's Club. It's a complex chemical solution though, so you might want to test it out on a small section for color change. I didn't see any bleaching anywhere.

12-13-2003, 21:52
2 words: High explosives :jump
Clean & sparkly in an instant.

He he he he he he he he he he he he he!


Darwin again
03-19-2009, 14:39
Fill your bathtub half full with hot water.
Add four scoops or oxyclean.
Toss in your gear, clothes, pack (empty and disassembled)
Swoosh it around and let it soak.
Rinse thoroughly, probably two or three times.
Dry and reuse.

03-19-2009, 17:06
You might also try burying it in the backyard for a week or two, or longer.

03-19-2009, 17:06
Maybe grow some vegies in it.