Laundry Tips for Soot Stains


If you've had to put out a campfire recently, there's a possibility you've acquired a few soot stains on your pant legs, shirt sleeves or areas of other garments. The good news is that soot is relatively easy to treat. However, there are things to keep in mind when treating soot to prevent making a bigger mess or a more embedded stain.

Shake It Up

  • Before you apply any sort of cleaning agent, it's best to take off the garment and take it outside and shake off the soot that isn't already embedded into the clothing. Shaking clothes vigorously can help to loosen particles, that if let loose in a washing machine might stain other clothing. On that note, hand-washing a soot covered item is a good idea, unless you're putting it in a load of laundry that contains other items that have had exposure to soot.

Flush It Out

  • Before you consider putting any cleaning agent on the soot stain, shock the stain out of the fabric by flushing it with a steady stream of cold water. The temperature of the icy water prevents it from embedding further into the fabric and the pressure of the stream of water may help to dislodge any ingrained particles of soot.

Know Your Garment

  • Always check the tags in your garment before you attempt to wash it. For example, if you find a "dry-clean only" tag, you'll have to take the item to your dry cleaner and explain that you have a soot problem. Make sure you have a tag that permits you to wash it at home and note any special instructions.

Bleach Alternative

  • Consider using a bleach alternative, even if the tag of the garment states that you can use bleach, as vinegar is sometimes as powerful as bleach but without weakening the individual fibers of a garment. Of course, if a soot stain is on a piece of wool or silk clothing, you'll have to use vinegar, as those fabrics don't tolerate bleach. A load of soot-stained garments requires a normal amount of detergent, a cup of white vinegar and a cup of water conditioner. Look for cleaning supplies that have tri-sodium phosphate, a chemical compound found to be a more effective detergent.

Wash It Twice

  • Bear in mind that clothes with heavy soot stains will need two washes. If you don't see any stains after the second wash, you can take the garments out and air dry them.

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  • Photo Credit campfire image by iChip from
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