As Written for Waccamaw Outdoors Magazine
Years back, I never thought much about my husband’s hunting clothes and gear. I was very involved with my real estate career and being a hands-on mom, so hunting was not at the top of my priority list. At the time, my husband was primarily a duck hunter and each season, he would grab his coat, waders, hats, gloves, and mask until there was not much left of him I could see. When he returned from each hunt, he would hang up his gear, throw his coat in his closet, and not require much help at all with cleaning his hunting clothes. Life was simple.
But things have changed around our house! Since hunting has become a huge part of my life, I am very involved with everything to do with hunting and that includes taking care of our hunting clothes and gear. We just returned from our first duck hunt of 2017 and with freezing temperatures, there were lots of layers of wet and dirty hunting clothes. With the effort it takes to care for hunting gear, you would think those camouflage clothes were made of strands of green, brown, and black spun silk. It has become quite a ritual. After a hunt, our clothes are separated into piles sorted by degrees of dirt. “Why don’t you just throw them all in one load?” my husband asks. “They’re hunting clothes!” Nope, not me…base layers are separated from outer layers, socks and gloves never meet up with hats and face masks, and well, I think you see where this is going! I always use scent killer hunting detergent to wash everything, even items slightly associated with hunting including base layers, middle layers, and on it goes. Even if we are duck hunting and knowing the birds don’t care about how we smell, this is what I do. I do it because it assures me these hunting clothes are never subjected to regular laundry detergent.
I have a great sense of smell, so I usually hang my husband’s heavy coats outside to air them out. He likes being outside by the fire at the hunting camp and the lingering smell of smoke is no longer allowed in his closet. Luckily we have a lot closets, so my hunting clothes have their own place. And since I am a Prois Apparel & Gear Staffer, I have a pretty sizable hunting wardrobe. I am very particular about what I wear and I am very careful to avoid camo clash…the dreaded mismatched outfit that you sometimes see hunters wear. It’s that look when you say – “oh my gosh, that hunting coat and pants should not be in the same closet let alone worn together!” My closet is very orderly to say the least. While we are in my closet, I guess you could say that I have a boot problem as well. Clearly, I have a lot of boots. My husband affectionately calls me “Bootsy Boineau”. In my defense, it looks like I have a lot of boots because, like my clothes, I take such good care of them. They all look new even though I have had many of these treasured boots for years. As with the laundry, after each hunt, our boots are carefully cleaned and put up ready for the next hunt.
Where did all this preoccupation with cleaning begin? For those of you who are not aware, I took a challenge to wear something camo 365 straight days (Sept. 2015 to Sept. 2016) and my blog CAMO365. COM was born. I had hunting clothes to wear, but street clothes were a totally different thing. I searched everywhere to find accessories, tops, pants, totes, scarfs, belts, etc. that I could incorporate into my real estate work wardrobe. While I did not feel like I had to go full camo every day to fulfill my challenge, I was going to pull it off by wearing something camo. 365 days is a long time and recycling outfits became necessary, as you can imagine. I had to keep them fresh and new by taking impeccable care of each and every item I wore.
Now that you are in on my camo cleaning compulsion, I would like to share some of my best tips for keeping your hunting clothes and gear in good order. So you know that I am not the most obsessive person out there when it comes to caring for my hunting clothes, here are some of the things I don’t do –
I don’t have a separate washing machine to wash my hunting clothes.
I don’t put my hunting clothes in bags full of leaves and pine boughs (and bugs).
I don’t store my hunting clothes outside in a barn or shed.
Here are cleaning tips I recommend:
- * Clean your washing machine with baking soda rinse before you wash your hunting clothes
- * Turn your clothes inside out to keep them from fading
- * Wash all hunting clothes and base layers in scent control detergent
- * Dry all hunting clothes with odor control dryer sheets
- * Remember to remove batteries from items such as hats and beanies before washing
- * It is best to store your hunting clothes in a separate closet from other clothes to avoid commingling of colognes, deodorants, and laundry cleaning fragrances.
- * I don’t recommend storing clothes in rubber containers as I think they are so tight and hold in odors and moisture. * I use breathable wardrobe bags for my turkey hunting gear such as vests that I don’t wash & outer layers that have been treated with Permethrin (tick spray).
- * I keep my deer hunting clothes away from items treated with Permethrin and other tick sprays.
- * I keep all those silicone gel pouches that come in new shoes, new clothes, and vitamin jars (the ones they tell you not to eat) and stick them in and around my clothes and boots.
- * I store accessories such as hats, gaiters, gloves, etc. in scent free storage bags along with the silicone pouches.
- * Keep manufacturer cleaning instructions for all your items – scent lock clothes need special care to preserve the scent lock feature. If you have lost them, look up product care on their web site.
- * Avoid storing your clothes in hot areas such as garages and attics in the summertime as you are sure to have clothes that smell like mildew.
Ok, I don’t sound too camo cleaning crazy after all, do I?