How do I get the outside smell out of my hair?

Getting outside odors out of your hair can be tricky, but there are some simple tips and tricks you can use to help remove any lingering smells. If you’ve been around smoke, food odors, or other strong scents, you may notice they cling to your hair long after you’ve gone back inside. The good news is that you don’t have to live with stinky hair until your next shampoo. With the right products and techniques, you can freshen up your locks and get rid of that stubborn outdoor smell.

Use a Clarifying Shampoo

One of the best ways to remove odors from your hair is to use a clarifying shampoo. Clarifying shampoos are formulated to deeply cleanse hair by removing product buildup, oil, and impurities. They contain active ingredients and detergents that break down and eliminate odor molecules that have become trapped in your strands. Look for clarifying shampoos containing ingredients like sulfates, citric acid, or sodium chloride. Using a clarifying shampoo every few washes can keep outdoor scents from clinging to your hair in between regular washes.

Try an Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse

If you don’t have clarifying shampoo on hand, making an apple cider vinegar hair rinse can help eliminate odors and purify your locks. The acidic components in apple cider vinegar help break down odor molecules so they can be rinsed away. Mix 1 part apple cider vinegar with 1 part water and massage into your dry hair after shampooing. Let sit for a few minutes before rinsing out completely. The vinegar smell will dissipate as your hair dries. Use this treatment once a week to keep smells from building up.

Sprinkle in Some Baking Soda

For a quick odor-absorbing treatment, turn to your pantry and reach for the baking soda. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer that will help soak up and neutralize lingering odors in your hair. After washing your hair, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda into your palms and work it through your damp hair, concentrating on the roots and lengths. Let it sit for 5 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. The baking soda will pull odor molecules out of your strands without stripping your hair. Use this 2-3 times per week to fight stubborn smells.

Use Dry Shampoo Between Washes

One of the easiest ways to refresh smelly hair is to use dry shampoo. Dry shampoo absorbs excess oil and product buildup from your hair, and many formulas also contain odor neutralizing agents. Look for dry shampoos with added fragrances that can help mask unpleasant smells with a clean, fresh scent. Apply dry shampoo at your roots and work through to the ends. Let it sit for a few minutes before brushing out. The dry shampoo will soak up oils and smells so you can go longer between hair washes.

Consider a Wine Rinse

Like apple cider vinegar, wine can also help remove odors from your hair when used as a rinse. The acids in wine help break down scent molecules and purify strands. After shampooing, mix 1 cup of white wine with 1 cup of water and pour over your hair. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly. This can help eliminate stubborn smells from smoke, food, chlorine, and more. Just be aware – your hair may smell a bit like wine until it fully dries!

Use Lemon Juice

Similar to vinegar and wine, the citric acid in lemon juice makes it an effective odor eliminator for hair. The acidic components break down and remove smelly particles stuck to your strands. Mix the juice from 1 lemon with 1 cup of water and rinse your hair with it after shampooing. Let it sit for 3-5 minutes before washing out. The bright, fresh lemon scent will also help mask any lingering odors. Use this treatment no more than once a week as the acidity can dry out your hair when overused.

Deep Clean With Activated Charcoal

For a weekly deep clean, try using activated charcoal to draw impurities and odors out of your hair. Activated charcoal has adsorbent properties that bind to and remove dirt, oil, product buildup, and smells. To use it, combine 1 tablespoon of activated charcoal powder with enough water or shampoo to form a spreadable paste. Work it through your dry hair from roots to ends, let it sit for 5 minutes, then shampoo as normal. The charcoal will pull out oils, toxins, and trapped scents leaving you with fresh, clean hair.

Use Essential Oils

Essential oils like lemon, eucalyptus, peppermint, and tea tree oil contain natural antimicrobial and cleansing properties that can neutralize odors in your hair. After washing, mix a few drops of your chosen essential oil into your palm and smooth over your damp hair. The fresh aroma will help mask any lingering smells. You can also add a few drops of essential oil to your shampoo or conditioner bottle and shake before use for an added odor-fighting boost.

Make a Vodka Hair Rinse

Like wine, vodka can be used as a DIY hair rinse to eliminate odors and impurities. The alcohol in vodka helps dissolve and wash away product buildup, oil, and smelly particles from your strands. Mix 1 cup vodka with 1 cup water and pour over your hair after shampooing. Let sit for 2-3 minutes before rinsing out completely. It may take a few washes for the alcohol smell to fade entirely but this can be a great clarifying and deodorizing treatment.

Odor Removal Method How Often to Use
Clarifying shampoo Every few washes as needed
Apple cider vinegar rinse Once per week
Baking soda treatment 2-3 times per week
Dry shampoo As needed between washes
Wine rinse Once per week
Lemon juice rinse Once per week max
Activated charcoal treatment Once per week
Essential oils Every wash or as needed
Vodka rinse Once per week

As you can see, there are many simple, natural ways to get undesirable outside odors out of your hair until you have a chance to wash it. Clarifying shampoos, DIY rinses, absorptive powders, and essential oils all help deodorize and purify your strands to keep your hair smelling fresh. Use a combination of these techniques as needed to target and eliminate any stubborn smells.


No one wants to walk around with hair that retains unpleasant odors from the outdoors. Whether it’s campfire smoke, pool chlorine, cigarette smoke, or other ambient smells, they can stubbornly cling to your locks long after you’ve left. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until your next shampoo to get rid of them. With the simple tips above, you can remove unpleasant outdoor odors from your hair with ingredients and products you likely have at home. Keep your strands fresh between washes by clarifying, rinsing, and absorbing away stubborn smells. Treat your hair to regular purifying treatments to prevent odors from building up over time. With the right strategies, you can keep your hair smelling clean no matter what aromas you encounter outside.

Leave a Comment