Although soot typically stays in the fireplace, residue on the hearth can end up on clothing. The black, dusty residue leftover from a burning fire easily smears onto clothing, leaving a smoky-smelling black stain. It's important to treat the stain prior to placing the clothing with other laundry to avoid having the soot rub off on other items. By using the proper supplies, a soot stain can be successfully removed from your clothing.
Separate any soot-stained clothing by the severity of the stains. Divide clothing into piles with light stains, medium stains or heavy soot stains so you can wash each pile separately. Make a separate pile for dry clean-only clothing and bring them to the dry cleaner's as promptly as possible.
Fill the washing machine with the hottest water allowed for the fabric. Add washing powder, 1 cup of water conditioner and 1/2 cup of all-fabric bleach to the wash cycle to clean soot stains and help remove the odour.
Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to further deodorise the clothing and remove any remaining stains.
Check the clothing upon removal from the washing machine. If any soot stains remain, repeat these steps to remove them. Air dry clothing outdoors or near an open window by hanging them over a drying rack.
Take soot-covered clothing outdoors and shake the clothing out to remove excess soot.
Avoid drying heavily soot stained clothing in the dryer. Even if the stains are removed, heat from the dryer can reactivate smoke odour. Smoke odour may still linger after soot stains are removed. Expose clothing to fresh air for several hours per day until the smell is gone.
Tips and warnings
- Take soot-covered clothing outdoors and shake the clothing out to remove excess soot.
- Avoid drying heavily soot stained clothing in the dryer. Even if the stains are removed, heat from the dryer can reactivate smoke odour.
- Smoke odour may still linger after soot stains are removed. Expose clothing to fresh air for several hours per day until the smell is gone.
- Iowa State University; Washing Soot Damaged Clothes; Janis Stone; December 2001
- University of Missouri; After the Fire is Out: Cleaning Household Textiles and Clothing; Betty Feather; December 1993
- University of Florida; Handling Smoke Damage After a Fire: Getting Soot and Smoke Out; 1998
- Reader's Digest: 150+ Household Uses for Vinegar: In the Laundry Room: Soften Fabrics, Kill Bacteria, Eliminate Static and More