In the aftermath of a fire, it’s important to take immediate action to save your home and its contents. This is especially important regarding sensitive items such as clothes, draperies, and other textiles. In this article, you will learn how to clean clothes after a fire.
Replacing them may cost a lot of money, so it’s best to try to save textiles that haven’t been scorched or severely water-damaged. Hiring a professional restoration company is the safest option to restore smoke/soot-damaged clothing and fabrics properly. They use the proper cleaning solutions, equipment, and techniques to restore contents after a fire.
However, if you don’t plan on hiring a professional restorer, see the tips below on how to clean clothes after a fire. Be warned: don’t try to clean smoke-damaged textiles unless you know proper procedures, or you may cause further damage.
How to Clean Clothes After a Fire
Minimize the Damage
- Dry the textiles at once to prevent mold growth.
- Hang clothes and fabrics outside to dry.
- Use fans and dehumidifiers, and open windows for ventilation.
- Change the furnace filter daily until the unit absorbs most soot from the air.
- Cover clean fabrics with plastic sheets to protect them.
Sort Out the Fabrics
- Separate salvageable from scorched items. Non-burnt fabrics can usually be saved.
- Organize the restorable items based on their fabric types and washing instructions, such as “bleach-safe” and “dry clean only”.
- Remove any damaged accessories from clothing.
Remove the Soot from Fabrics
- Remove the soot from textiles before cleaning.
- Take the items outside and shake the soot off gently. As soot is oily, it can easily stain fabrics if you don’t shake it off lightly.
- Alternatively, use a high-powered vacuum cleaner with a narrow tip. Please keep it one or two inches away from the fabric.
- Never use a brush tip attachment – it can force soot particles into the clothing.
- It’s strongly recommended to get professional help for soot removal from textiles. One wrong move and you could stain your fabrics permanently.
Deodorize the Clothing
You should deodorize fabrics before they are cleaned, or the smoke odor could persist in the material. We do not recommend a DIY deodorization as perfumes, aerosol sprays, or disinfectants only temporarily masks the odor.
For proper deodorization, ozone treatment is needed. Professional fire restoration technicians use this deodorizing process, which eliminates odor by breaking up each smoke molecule.
Wash Smoke-Damaged Clothes
Once your clothes and textiles are deodorized, you can clean them. Here’s how:
- Send dry clean only clothes to a dry cleaner that’s certified in handling smoke-damaged clothing.
- Wash polyester or cotton fabrics in warm water without bleach solutions. Wash bleach-safe fabrics in heavy detergent.
- Hand-wash your clothes for the first two to three washes to prevent soot oils from contaminating the next few loads of laundry.
- If odors persist, soak the items in a mixture of 4 to 6 tablespoons of trisodium phosphate, 1 cup of bleach, and 1 gallon of water. Let fabrics sit overnight, then remove, rinse, and hang them outside to dry.
For Fire Damage Restoration, Call the PuroClean Remediation Pros!
Unless you have the time, tools, and experience necessary to know how to clean clothes after a fire, always go with a professional company. You will be saving yourself a lot of trouble and money by hiring a company that knows how to handle smoke-damaged clothes and other personal property. For professional fire damage restoration and smoke damage restoration, contact your local PuroClean office.