Tips to Clean Fire-Damaged Clothing and Fabrics
After a fire, quick action is critical to saving a home and its contents. This is especially important when it comes to sensitive items such as clothes, draperies, and other textiles. To properly restore smoke/soot-damaged clothing and fabrics, hiring a professional restoration company is the safest option. They use the proper cleaning solutions, equipment, and techniques to restore contents after a fire. However, DIY-ers should see the tips below on cleaning clothes after a fire.
To minimize the damage:
- Dry the textiles at once to prevent mould 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 of the soot from the air;
- Cover clean fabrics with plastic sheets to protect them.
To 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.
To remove the soot from fabrics:
- 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, a high-powered vacuum cleaner with a narrow tip can be used. It should be kept two to five centimetres away from the fabric;
- Never use a brush tip attachment — it can force soot particles deeper into the clothing;
- It’s strongly recommended to get professional help for soot removal from textiles. One wrong move and the fabrics can be stained permanently.
To remove the smoke odour:
- DIY deodorization is not a good idea. Using perfumes, aerosol sprays, or disinfectants only masks the odour temporarily;
- For proper deodorization, ozone treatment is the best solution. Professional fire restoration technicians use this deodorizing process, which eliminates odour by breaking up each smoke molecule;
- Professionals perform ozone treatment using an ozone generator either at home or at a separate facility.
To clean the textiles:
- 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 clothes for the first two to three washings to prevent soot oils from contaminating the next few loads of laundry.
- If odors persist, soak the items into 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 professional clothes cleaning after a fire, call PuroClean
Unless they have the time, tools, and the experience necessary to restore smoke-damaged clothing and fabrics, they should always go with a professional company. They will be saving a lot of trouble and money by hiring a company that knows how to clean clothes and other property after a fire. So, for professional fire damage restoration and smoke damage restoration, contact your local PuroClean office.