How to Remove Soot Stains from Clothing

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If you had a fire in your home, chances are you lost some valuable items, both of sentimental and monetary value. Before tallying up your soot-damaged clothing as part of the damaged, try cleaning them first. While you may not get back everything you lost, you may be able to salvage your clothes. The first part of salvaging them though, is removing the soot stains and, in the process, any lingering smoke smells may dissipate making them wearable again.

Things You'll Need

  • Laundry detergent
  • Water conditioner
  • Non-chlorine bleach

Shake out clothing that has a lot of soot. Do so outdoors and stand upwind so you don’t breathe in the soot and so that it does not stain the clothes you are currently wearing.

Send dry clean only clothing to the cleaners and mention to them that the clothes are stained with soot so they can clean them accordingly. Note that dry cleaning cotton clothes is not effective, according to University of Missouri Extension.

Separate washable clothing into two groups: synthetic and cottons. Then separate them into three groups: clothes with lots of soot; clothes with a moderate amount of soot; and clothes with a little bit of soot. This helps prevent clothes with just a little bit of soot from getting dirty from those with a lot in the washer.

Wash clothes in warm or hot water and use the recommended amount powdered laundry detergent, no less. Also add 1 cup of water conditioner, sold in the laundry isle, and 1/2 cup of non-chlorine bleach suitable for colored fabrics. Do not overload the machine and set the water level on high.

Inspect your clothes and wash a second time, if necessary. Heavily soiled clothes will most likely need two washings.

Hang clothes outdoors to dry them and to help remove smoke odors. Wash and air dry again if they still smell.

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