A house fire of any size can be a devastating experience for homeowners. Not only have you incurred damages to your residence, but some of your favorite clothes may have been ruined. Although clothes are replaceable, we often have our favorites or those with sentimental value. Plus, replacing all your clothes can be a costly undertaking at a time when you have many other expenses.
Simply throwing your clothes in the wash is not enough to tackle smoke damage. However, some at-home tricks can work to help refresh your clothing. In this article, we’ll offer some tips and tricks to help possibly restore smoke-damaged clothing.
Can Smoke-Damaged Clothes be Saved?
Whether or not you can save smoke-damaged clothes depends on several factors. If clothing has not been burned, it may only retain the smell of the smoke. There are many methods you can try to help restore your clothes to their original state and tackle that smokey smell.
Before you can get started on cleaning methods, there are a few steps you should initially take to help prevent further damage to your favorite clothes. First, start by separating non-burnt clothing from those that have been burned. You will want to make a pile of everything that may be able to be salvaged.
Anything that seems like it may be salvageable should immediately be hung to dry outside. This will help prevent mold growth and start the airing-out process. Clothes that were spared from damage should be covered with plastic sheets to ensure they remain protected.
Sort your clothes into piles based on the type of fabric. Any clothes with embellishments such as buttons, beads, or other attachments may not be able to be saved.
Removing Soot from Clothes
Before attempting any other steps, attempt to remove as much soot from the clothes as possible. Start by going outside and shaking out the clothes as much as possible. You don’t want to be too aggressive but shake hard enough to remove excess soot. Aggressive shaking can cause further staining or damage. Using your vacuum, you can also attempt to remove soot using the narrow, high-suction tip.
How to Clean Smoke Damaged Clothes
Standard products purchased at the store such as perfumes, aerosol sprays, or disinfectant sprays will not be powerful enough to remove smoke smells from clothes. These may only mask the odor for a short period; however, it will return. At times, these common freshening products may even worsen the smoke smell. Instead, try one of these trusted methods to get the smokey smell out of your clothing:
Using Vinegar and Water: Mix a 50/50 solution of water and vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray down all your smoke-damaged clothing until damp. Then, place the clothes in the washer while they are still damp. Add one cup of vinegar and one cup of baking soda directly into your washer.
Then, wash your clothes with a normal cycle. After that wash cycle has been completed, wash again using detergent. You may need to repeat this process several times until you feel the smokey smell is gone. Depending on the severity of smoke damage, it could take up to five wash cycles to remove the smell entirely.
Natural Solution: Another option is to create an at-home mixture using 4 to 6 TBSP of trisodium phosphate, one cup of bleach, and one gallon of water. This effective solution is great at removing smoke odors from clothing. Submerge the clothing in this solution and allow it to sit overnight. In the morning, remove the clothes from the solution, rinse with clean water, and allow them to hang dry outside.
Non-Washable Fabric Cleaning
For clothes that are not suitable for your washing machine, other methods to remove smoke smells may be needed. Try taking the piece of clothing outside and pouring a generous amount of baking soda on top. Leave the baking soda on the clothes for at least 24 hours.
After you’re done, shake it off or vacuum the baking soda away. Leaving clothes outside can also help them air out. As with the washing machine methods listed above, you may need to do this several times to completely remove the smoke odor. Some non-washable fabrics may not be able to be saved.
Consult a Fire Restoration Company
If you have more questions about restoring your clothes after a fire, contact an experienced and professional fire restoration company. They offer alternatives or suggestions that can help you remove smoke odor from your home. An ozone treatment, for example, helps to deodorize by breaking up smoke particles in an ozone generator.
At WeDry USA, we offer comprehensive fire restoration services. Ask us about ozone treatments to remove smoke odor from your home.