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Clean, Repair and Disinfect Textiles and Clothes
By Jonathan Meyer
Fire creates two types of smoke damage on textiles: visible soot and invisible odor. It usually is difficult for inexperienced home owners to remove soot and smoke odors without professional assistance or advice.
In many cases, dry cleaning is recommended to remove soot and smoke odors from clothing. However, dry cleaning may not solve all problems and may be hard to utilize for linens, curtains, etc.
Hire a Restoration Professional
Before you can deodorize or clean fire-damaged clothing, you must remove the soot. Soot is usually oily and can easily stain clothing. Consider contacting a professional fire restorer.
A restoration professional will be able to provide helpful hints to prevent further damage, determine which items can be refurbished and estimate the cost of deodorizing and cleaning your textiles. Although hiring a professional fire restorer can be expensive, it is proven that the best way to remove smoke odor and soot is with the right equipment and appropriate chemicals.
Before you start deodorizing carpets, curtains, upholstered furniture and clothing, you must remove soot. This may be a tough task to perform without the proper knowledge and equipment because soot is oily, and can stains items.
If you lack the equipment, do not touch affected items until a professional fire restorer arrives and removes soot with heavy duty vacuums.
If you insist on removing soot yourself, use a vacuum and hold the nozzle slightly off the surface of an item. Never use vacuum cleaner attachments with brushes or upright vacuums as the brushes will force soot into the item, causing more damage.
Removing Smoke Odors
Smoke odor will embed into fabrics if not properly removed. The same problem can be caused if items are cleaned before they are deodorized. Fire restoration companies often use an ozone treatment to break up the smoke particles and eliminate the odor. This thorough treatment is recommended as most household deodorizing products will work only temporarily and may even cause more damage.
For items that can be bleached (spot test colored items): Mix 4 to 6 tablespoons trisodium phosphate (available at local paint or hardware stores) with one cup of household chlorine bleach and 1 gallon of water. Completely submerge items and let them soak all night in a stationary tub. Rinse with clear water and dry.
Most washable garments can be cleaned within one to five washings. Start with sorting fire-damaged clothing by recommended care method, color and degree of damage. Then you can most effectively launder with any known laundry soap or liquid.
For cleaning your dry-cleaning clothing, seek a professional dry cleaner with soot and smoke removal experience. Smoke and soot dry cleaners specialists may also help you regarding items that you couldn't clean yourself.
Recovering from Fire Damage: Cleaning, Repairing and Disinfecting