Yep, we all know what soot is. It’s that black powdery substance consisting mainly of amorphous carbon. Some people just call it dirt, but successfully eliminating it from clothes can be challenging.
Cleaning soot from your clothing requires that you address the problems you see and those that you can’t see. Soot soils your clothing unlike most of the more routine dirt that you wash from your laundry. Normal laundry procedures are often ineffective at removing the stain and smell from your clothing that soot can present. Take these steps to remove the soot and the smell of smoke from your clothing.
First, separate your clothing as you would normally divide your loads of laundry. Lights and darks should be segregated to treat each color and fabric type as effectively as possible. Also, separate any clothing that has been badly soiled from the soot from those items that are only more superficially soiled.
Remove the dusty soot from the more heavily soiled clothing by taking the items outside to shake free the soot particles. Instead of rubbing the clothing together – which could drive the particles deeper into the clothing – strike the clothing to knock the loose particles from the clothing with a broom or other clubbing instrument.
Gather the clothing in the appropriately separated piles and place them into the washing machine. Set the washer to the highest temperature setting given the tolerances of the predominant fabrics. For lightly colored items; the hot temperature will work best. The effectiveness of your effort is determined by the amount of soot you can remove prior to washing the clothing in the machine.
Add chlorine bleach to loads with white items or non-chlorine or color-safe bleach to those items that have colors. Consult the directions for your bleaching agent to derive the proper amount of bleach for the size load you are washing.
Remove the clothing from the washing machine after the final spin cycle has finished. Visually inspect the clothing to see if any of the stains from the soot remain. If the clothing looks clean, hang the items to dry. After the clothing has dried, smell the laundry to inspect for the smell of soot or smoke. If the smell persists, repeat the wash cycle and hang the clothing to dry once washed. Only when the look and smell of the dried clothing appears soot-free should you proceed.
Once the clothing has been washed and air-dried and reveals no signs of soot or the smell of smoke should you proceed to drying the clothing in your tumble dryer with dryer sheets or other fabric softening measures.