How to get soot out of clothes entirely? Fire pits, fireplaces, and candles are the most likely places to leave soot stains on your clothes. The stain is pretty annoying, especially for white garments.
Removing soot from your clothes is pretty easy, and you can do it without any effort. But first, knowing deeply about soot helps you choose the best approach to clean it. So, let’s hop on to the next section.
Understand Your Clothes Enemy – The Black Soot
Soot can form one heck of a stain. The stains are black and smelly due to the acids, metal, dust, and chemicals inside soot. Soot is the impure carbon particles resulting from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, or wood (1).
Excessive use of candles, burning wood, poorly ventilated fireplaces, or burning coals from barbeque parties can spread soot particles all over the area. These particles will grab on any objects’ surfaces, including your clothes.
If left untreated, the soot can damage your properties and reduce the air quality inside your house. Soot is also the reason for many health issues related to your respiratory system (2).
Removing soot immediately is the only way to sustain the affected fabric and prevent the stain from adhering to the fibers. However, you have to conduct a proper cleaning procedure not to push the soot into the fibers. So, it’s time to remove the soot from your clothes.
Are soot and smoke different? Let’s find out!
Let’s Get Your Hand On Those Black And Dirty Soot
The process of cleaning soot on your clothes is not complicated, but it requires sophistication, patience along with some proper preparations. The next section will show you what you need to prepare.
Vital Preparations Before Cleaning
The key point of conducting preparation steps is to protect yourself and the surrounding areas from being contaminated by the soot particles. Plus, some setup steps to ease the main cleaning procedure.
Equip Yourself With Protective Gears
Soot and ash particles are so tiny that you might inhale the soot without notice. Wear rubber gloves, a mask, goggles, long sleeves, and pants to prevent these particles from settling on your skin.
Cover your hair, too, because any direct interaction with soot and ash could threaten your skin’s health. You can also wear a bandana or a t-shirt to protect your hair.
Prepare The Area
Always make sure the area is well-ventilated by opening all the windows and doors. Don’t let any loosened soot stick and float around the area as the particles could land on other objects in the room. You can also conduct the cleaning process outdoors to avoid this from happening.
Remember to separate the soot-contaminated clothes from the non-affected ones so as not to spread the soot and the bad smell to other garments. Place plastic sheets over clean fabrics to protect them from being affected by the soot.
Get Rid Of The Excess Soot
Shake the soot-contaminated clothes to loosen any excess soot. Don’t shake so hard as the loosened soot could fly to other areas. Using too much force while shaking could also make the soot go deeper into the fabric, which will be hard to remove.
You can also use a vacuum cleaner with a gentle force to suck up all the soot too. A handheld vacuum cleaner with a fabric brush attachment will be perfect for cleaning soot on your clothes. Keep the vacuum one to two inches away from your clothes.
Don’t use a brush tip attachment as this type will push the soot particles deeper into the fibers.
Let’s Handle The Washable Fabrics
As you have protected yourself and the surrounding area, it’s time to remove the soot using the following remedies. Remember that the methods are only suitable for washable clothes.
Laundry Detergent Or Dishwashing Detergent
Your regular laundry detergent will help remove soot effectively. Even if the soot leaves stains on the surfaces, the power of the washing detergent will kick the stains out.
- Dishwasher detergent or laundry detergent
- A bucket
- Bleach (Optional)
- Water conditioner (Optional)
- Rubbing alcohol
Step 1: Turn the fabric over; you have to work on the other side of the affected area. This prevents the soot from penetrating the fibers.
Step 2: Flush with cool water from the faucet. Please don’t touch the soot-contaminated area with your fingers as it will spread the stain and worsen the situation.
Step 3: Soak the affected fabric in a bucket with one of the suggested solutions below:
- 1 cup of dishwasher detergent in 16 cups of warm water
- Some drops of laundry detergent and a bucket of warm water
Soak overnight to let the solution work. If you are in a hurry, submerge the fabric in the detergent solution for at least 6 hours. Soaking will help remove a hardened or burnt-on layer of soot that covers your clothes.
Note: If your clothes can work with bleach, you can add a few drops of bleach to the suggested solution. You can check the item’s care tag to make sure you can apply bleach to your clothes.
Step 4: Wash the items with the hottest temperature allowed in the care label. At this step, you can also add a tiny amount of bleach (if allowed) into the washing machine. The combination of bleach and laundry detergent will also remove odor from your clothes.
Step 5: If the following ingredient can not remove the stains, try sponging the area using rubbing alcohol. Wash the item with hot water, and your garment should be free from the annoying black stains.
Step 6: Dry your clothes. You should hang your clothes under the sun to get rid of all the foul odor.
Note: If your clothes have tiny holes because of the soot particles, drying on the clothesline with sunlight is the best way to stop the holes from getting larger.
The power of laundry detergent will help you kick the soot out immediately.
Commercial Stain Remover
Pretreat the stains with commercial stain remover to break down the soot particles and help you clean them more easily. Now, let’s try this approach.
- Stain remover or liquid laundry detergent
- Distilled white vinegar
- Oxygen bleach
Step 1: Work the stain remover on the affected area of your garment. Or you can soak the item in 1 ½ tablespoon liquid laundry detergent and a gallon of water for 15-30 minutes.
Step 2: Wash your clothes with hot water; follow the care tag guide. Add a cup of vinegar to clean the residue out of your clothes.
Note: If the stain is huge, apply oxygen bleach following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Step 3: Repeat the entire process if needed. Put your clothes in the dryer when the stains disappear.
Baking soda works perfectly when you need to remove foul soot odor. And the best part is you can find this ingredient in almost any grocery store around you.
- Baking soda (salt will be a great alternative)
- A bucket
- Commercial odor remover
- Liquid soap (for removing stains)
Instructions For Removing Odor
Step 1: Soak the soot-affected fabric in a bucket full of water and a cup of baking soda.
Step 2: Leave the fabric for at least 2 to 3 hours. The best option is to leave your garment submerged in the baking soda solution overnight.
Step 3: Wash the clothes with your favorite detergent. When the machine enters the rinse cycle, add another cup of baking soda.
Step 4: Repeat the washing process for around 3 or 4 rounds until the odor is gone.
Step 5 (Optional): You can apply your favorite odor remover to boost the method’s efficiency.
Step 6: Dry your clothes.
Instructions For Removing Soot Stains
Step 1: Soak baking soda on the stained fabric to absorb all the excess oil. You can replace baking soda with salt; it will work too.
Step 2: Apply a small amount of liquid soap on the stains and machine wash as usual.
Note: Don’t overload your clothes. Allow the machine some space to let the water wash away the soot instead of spreading it onto other garments.
Step 3: Dry your clothes outdoors with sunlight.
Dry Cleaning Solvent
Dry cleaning solvent is a brilliant way to remove soot stains from your clothes. Combine this ingredient with baking soda and alcohol; the stain will fade away.
- Baking soda
- Dry cleaning solvent
- Clean cloths
Step 1: Sprinkle baking soda or other absorbent powder liberally on the affected clothes. Allow the baking soda to work on the clothes for at least 30 minutes.
Step 2: Shake off the baking soda or vacuum it.
Step 3: Sponge the affected fabric with a clean cloth using a dry cleaning solvent.
Step 4: Keep sponging until the stains are 100% gone.
Step 5: Rinse with a damp cloth and let the fabric dry.
Soaking With Baking Soda Or Borax Powder
Soaking your clothes with the cleaning solution from water with either baking soda or borax powder will help remove not only the stains but also the foul odor. Try this method now!
- A large tub
- Baking soda
- Borax powder
Step 1: Pour ¼ cup of borax powder or 1 cup of baking soda into a large tub of hot water. The water temperature should be suitable for your clothes.
Step 2: Submerge the affected garments in the tub overnight. The solution will loosen any soot particles on the clothes.
Step 3: Launder your clothes following the care label instructions.
Step 4: Dry your clothes.
Yeah, vinegar is another natural ingredient that you can consider using. It is friendly to almost any washing machine and helps remove the stain from soot too.
- Distilled White Vinegar
- Liquid soap
- All fabric or oxygen-based bleach
- Heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent
Instructions For To Use With Bleach
Step 1: Put your affected clothes on the washing machine.
Step 2: Add heavy-duty laundry detergent to the device. Then, pour 1 cup of white vinegar and ½ cup of oxygen-based bleach into the device.
Step 3: Launder your clothes following the care tag instructions.
Step 4: Dry your clothes.
Mix water conditioner to help make the fabric look fresh or even shinier. With the support from laundry detergent, your clothes will be free of soot.
- Water conditioner
- Washing detergent with color-safe bleach
Step 1: Put your clothes in the washer and set the device at a high water level. Choose the hottest temperature that is suitable for your clothes.
Step 2: Pour a cup of water conditioner into the washing machine. After that, add ½ cup of the detergent having color-safe bleach into the device.
Step 3: Run the machine for the first round. Then, reapply the detergent and go for the second round.
Step 4: Check the stains and odor on your clothes. Repeat the process if needed.
Step 5: Air-dry your clothes.
Note: Remember to clean the closet out of the soot and the odor to ensure your garment won’t be contaminated again.
Ammonia And Borax
If you are dealing with much tougher stains from soot, try using ammonia and borax. These powerful cleaning agents should be the final resort to remove soot as they could damage the fibers of your clothes.
Warning: Spot test ammonia onto a hidden area of your clothes to make sure you can apply this method. If any discoloration appears, stop using this method.
- Formula 409
- Washing soda
- Soapless shampoo
- Laundry detergent
- Clean cloths
Step 1: Cover your affected garment with salt. Let the salt work on the fabric for several hours. Then, shake off the salt and machine wash your clothes.
Step 2: Submerge the fabric in Formula 409. After that, launder your clothes the second time.
Step 3: Pour ½ cup of borax and/or washing soda into the washing machine and wash your affected clothes with regular detergent.
Note: Don’t use ammonia on wool as this chemical will damage the fibers.
Step 4: Use a clean cloth and dab soapless shampoo on the stained fabric. Add diluted ammonia (10%) along with the shampoo.
Step 5: Brush the stains with a soft-bristled brush until your garment is spotless.
Step 6: Rinse the fabric with water and let the clothes dry.
Chlorine Bleach Or Oxygen Bleach
This powerful cleaning agent will knock out any stubborn soot stains on your clothes. However, bleach will damage certain fabric types, so you should check your clothes’ care tag before applying this method.
- Laundry stain remover
- Heavy-duty detergent
- Chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach
- Dry cleaning solvent
- Absorbent paper towels
Step 1: Work the stain remover on the stains for 1 minute.
Step 2: Rub the stain with the detergent and launder your clothes right after that if the stains are stubborn.
Step 3: Wash your clothes with oxygen bleach according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Step 4: If the stains remain, work the dry cleaning solvent on the back of the stains using absorbent paper towels.
Step 5: Let the solvent dry and wash your clothes again.
Step 6: Allow the washed garments to dry.
How About Dry-Clean Only Fabrics?
Dry-clean is not suitable for machine wash or even contact with a large amount of water. To clean this type of fabric, you should send it to a professional cleaner who has experience cleaning soot stains on clothes.
If your clothes only have a foul odor, you can try applying a dry-cleaning kit available at your home and follow the brand’s instructions. After that, put your garments on a clothesline and let them dry.
Remove The Soot Smell Out Of Clothes
If your clothes are just coated with the smoke smell from soot, how can you remove it entirely? Well, here are some ways that you could try.
Machine washing your clothes with heavy detergent and warm water will help remove all the smoked smell. For the first three washes, you should hand wash to avoid the clothes from being recontaminated by the soot oil.
Note: For polyester and cotton clothes, don’t use bleach while washing.
Spray your clothes with a solution of water and vinegar using the ratio of 1:1. Do this a couple of times, and your clothes will be free of the smoke smell. If the smell remains, wash the damp clothes in a washing machine with 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda.
Rewash your clothes using your regular laundry detergent. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell; it will fade away when your clothes dry. Repeat the entire process several times to ensure that the smell goes away.
Covering your non-washable clothes with a layer of baking soda will also eliminate the unwanted odor. Just sprinkle a large amount of baking soda onto your clothes for 24 hours and shake the powder off. Repeat the process until your clothes are free from the soot smell.
Don’t try using perfumes, disinfectants, or aerosol sprays to cover the foul odor. The combination of two different smells will just make the situation worse. Only use a commercial odor eliminator that can break down the smelly odor. Apply ozone treatment if the smell is too heavy.
Another option is to submerge your clothes overnight in a solution of 6 tablespoons of trisodium phosphate and a cup of bleach in a bucket of 1 gallon of water. After that, rinse your clothes with water and air dry them under the sunlight.
Don’t hesitate to check out these questions. I bet you will find lots of interesting things here. Let’s go!
Don’t Let Soot Stay On Your Clothes For Too Long
That said, if you leave soot on your garments untreated, it will harm not only your clothes but also your health. Inhaling soot for a long duration will lead to serious lung and respiratory problems. So, kick them out of your clothes now!
I hope you love the provided information. Don’t hesitate and share the post with your friends to help them out. I will see you next time!
- En.wikipedia.org. 2021. Soot – Wikipedia.
- Rituraj, N., 2021. The Toxicological Mechanisms of Environmental Soot (Black Carbon)