When you have suffered through a house fire, an obvious question is” Are my clothes ok?” This post shows what you can do to restore clothes that may have been damaged by smoke in a fire. If your wardrobe has been destroyed, it may cost a great deal to replace it, and in the aftermath of a fire, while you are waiting for the insurance company to pay out, the stress of the expense can become overwhelming. However, you may be able to salvage some clothing so you can return to your usual way of life as soon as possible. People have on occasion found it comforting to be able to hold on to small reminders of their life before the fire trauma.
Saving Smoke And Flame Damaged Clothing
- The first order of business is to assess your clothes and decide what is possible to be salvaged. A good starting point is to sort out the items that have burn holes from the others. Once you have taken out the clothes that are too damaged, start assembling the remaining clothing based on both the type of fabric and their laundry instructions. Keep a special lookout for bleach-safe clothes.
- Then look for clothing containing beadwork, buttons metal fittings or additional accessories. They often have irreversible damage and can further damage the surrounding fabric. When there is evidence of severe burn damage, it is time to discard these items of clothing.
- Speak to your insurance company as soon as you can. Understand it may take some time for a full payout; however, the insurance company may be able to give you a partial payment to help set you back on your feet once again.
- Have the insurance adjuster visit as soon as they can so they can see the clothes damaged in the fire. This will ensure they are added to the insurance claim, and the losses are fully documented.
- Before starting to wash the remaining clothes, take a look at the clothes with a great deal of soot. Take the clothing outside and shake out as much soot as you can. Just shake the soot off, do not beat the clothing to do so.
- If soot remains, you can use a vacuum cleaner with a high power setting. Use a very fine tip with high-suction and old it a couple of inches away from the fabric. Do not be tempted to use a brush tip as the bristles can cause the soot to become further embedded.
- Once soot removal is complete, you can then start to launder your clothes. If clothes are dry clean only, send them to a dry cleaner who is experienced and recommended for their smoke-damaged clothing services.
- Clothing made from cotton or polyester needs to be ashed repeatedly in warm water. Do not use bleach solutions unless the fabrics are bleach-safe. In that case, they should be washed many times in a heavy detergent to remove the odor of smoke.
- It may be a good idea to hand-wash your clothes for the first two to three times as the oils and soot from the initial laundry loads may maintain a smoke odor spreading to other clothing yet to be laundered.
- Many people do not want to use detergents, so here is an alternative: Mix 4-6 tablespoons of trisodium phosphate, one gallon of water and one cup of bleach. Mix this together and submerge clothing overnight, so the mixture thoroughly penetrates the clothing. In the morning, rinse the garment with clean water and hang out on the washing line.
- Household deodorizers can be used to remove lingering smoke odors. However, this is only a temporary solution. If the smell persists look for a company, who can give an ozone treatment to the clothing to remove the malingering odor.