How to Clean and Care for Clothes and Carpet With Scorch or Burn Marks

scorched shirt

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Overview
  • Working Time: 15 mins
  • Total Time: 1 - 10 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Scorch marks made by ironing happens. You may have become distracted or you chose an ironing temperature that was too hot for the fabric. Sometimes ironing on a carpeted floor while crafting, to steam away a stain, revive fibers, or as a substitute for an ironing board, can also go awry. On rare occasions, you may find scorches from a dropped cigarette or spark from a candle that caused a burn. Too much heat can melt fibers and leave unsightly burn marks.

If the scorched fabric is made from natural fibers like cotton, linen, ramie, rayon, or wool, you may be able to save it. Scorched wool must be handled a bit differently because it is a protein fiber. Cleaning scorched clothing and carpets made from man-made fibers can be tricky. However, even if the burn is successfully removed, remember that the fabric will be weakened permanently in the scorched area and will wear out more quickly than the rest of the garment. 

How Often to Clean Clothes and Carpet to Remove Scorch or Burn Marks

The treatments to remove scorch or burn marks from clothes and carpet are fairly aggressive. You should be able to remedy the problem with one treatment. However, you may have to repeat whichever process you use to completely remove the scorch or burn mark.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • White cloths
  • Washer or large sink
  • Emery board or medium-grit sandpaper (optional)
  • Manicure scissors (optional)
  • 2 small bowls (optional)

Materials

  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Hydrogen peroxide (optional)
  • Household ammonia (optional)
  • Oxygen-based bleach
  • Cotton swabs (optional)

Instructions

 

How to Wash Clothes to Remove Scorch or Burn Marks
Detergent Heavy-duty or gentle, depending on fabric
Water Temperature Varies, depending on fabric
Cycle Type Normal or gentle, depending on fabric
Drying Cycle Type Air-dry usually preferred
Special Treatments Pre-treatments vary
Iron Settings Unnecessary

How to Remove Light Scorch Marks on White Clothes

  1. Treat Fresh Scorch Marks Immediately

    If the scorch mark is light and you catch it right away, stop ironing and immediately work some heavy-duty laundry detergent into the stain (Tide and Persil are considered heavy-duty) with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Let it work for at least 10 minutes and wash the garment in the hottest water recommended for the fabric.

  2. Use Vinegar

    If you did not catch the mistake right away and find it later and the scorch stain is very light, you can also try wiping the stain with a clean white cloth dipped in distilled white vinegar. Keep moving the cloth to a clean area as the scorched fibers are transferred. Finish with a wipe down with a white cloth dipped in plain cool water.

How to Remove Heavy Scorch Marks on White Clothes

  1. Treat Mark With Hydrogen Peroxide

    For a heavier scorch mark on a white cotton or linen shirt, find an open, well-ventilated space to work. If the stain is large, work on only a small section at a time. Start by pouring a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide, a mild bleaching agent, in a small bowl. Dipping a cotton swab in hydrogen peroxide and apply it to the stain.

  2. Swab With Household Ammonia

    Dip another cotton swab into a separate small bowl filled with household ammonia and apply it onto the stain as well. Let the treated area stand for five minutes.

    Warning

    Do not mix the hydrogen peroxide and ammonia in one bowl. Use a separate bowl for each ingredient. The mixture can form toxic fumes when combined in large quantities.

  3. Rinse and Repeat

    Flush the treated area with cold water. Repeat if necessary and move to another section of the scorch mark. Do not allow the hydrogen peroxide/ammonia solution to dry on the fabric.

  4. Treat With an Oxygen-Bleach and Water Soak

    If a stain remains after trying the hydrogen peroxide/ammonia or vinegar removal methods, mix a solution of warm water and oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Nellie's All-Natural Oxygen Brightener, or OXO Brite) following package directions. Submerge the entire scorched item and allow it to soak at least eight hours or overnight. Then wash as usual. If a stain remains, repeat the process.

How to Remove Scorch Marks on Colored Clothes

  1. Treat With Heavy-Duty Laundry Detergent

    If the scorch mark is light, work a bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent into the stain with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush and wash the garment in the hottest water recommended for the fabric.

  2. Wipe Stain With Vinegar

    Wiping the scorched area with a cloth dipped in distilled white vinegar may also help. Be sure to rinse well after using the vinegar to prevent discoloration.

    Warning

    For heavier scorch marks, do not use the hydrogen peroxide/ammonia treatment on colored clothes because fading can occur that cannot be reversed.

  3. Soak in Oxygen-Based Bleach and Water

    Mix a solution of warm water and oxygen-based bleach following the package directions. Submerge the entire scorched item and allow it to soak at least eight hours or overnight. Then wash as usual. If a stain remains, repeat the process.

    Warning

    The oxygen bleach soaking process is safe to use on polyester and all man-made fibers as well as natural fibers. Do not use on silk, wool, or leather, including any trim or embellishments made from those materials.

How to Remove Scorch Marks on Wool

  1. Treat Shiny Streaks With Vinegar

    If you forgot to use a pressing cloth while ironing wool, it may have caused a shiny streak. To fix, dip a white cloth in white distilled vinegar and blot the shiny streak. Finish by dipping a cloth in plain water and blotting the area to rinse. Allow the fabric to air-dry.

  2. Brush Away the Burned Fibers

    For heavier scorch marks, you will need to remove burned or charred fibers. If the fabric is made of woven wool or another protein fiber like cashmere that is thick and fuzzy, brush the scorched area lightly with a soft brush. An old toothbrush also works well to remove damaged fibers.

  3. Treat With a Gentle Detergent

    If the garment is unstructured and made of washable woven wool, rub a bit of liquid gentle detergent into the scorched area and wash in cold water on the gentle cycle. If the scorched item is knitted, like a sweater, hand-wash instead.

How to Remove Burn Marks on Carpets

  1. Let the Carpet Cool Down

    If you happen to be ironing on a carpeted floor and burn or melt the fibers, always allow the area to cool completely before tackling a repair.

  2. Treat a Scorch on Light-Colored Carpets

    If the carpet is very light in color, use the hydrogen peroxide/ammonia method to remove the stain. Always finish by blotting the area with cool, clean water and allow to air-dry.

    Warning

    Do not use this method on a dark-colored carpet. The color will be greatly affected.

  3. Buff Away the Burned Fibers

    Use an emery board or medium-grit sandpaper to lightly brush the scorched area of the carpet and remove the burned or melted fibers. Do not scrub heavily or you will have a bare spot on the carpet.

  4. Trim Away the Burned Fibers

    You can also use fine tip scissors, like manicure scissors, to remove the melted fibers. You must be careful and avoid cutting too deep or your carpet will be bald.

Ironing

If ironing caused the problem of burns or scorch marks on your clothing or carpet, you will need to clean the iron before using it again. Remove any melted fibers from the soleplate of your iron once it is completely cooled down. Use a spatula to scrape off the fabric, tweezers to remove fibers, or a mix of vinegar and water to eliminate remnants. Do not use an iron until the soleplate is cleaned or it can ruin another piece of clothing.

Repairs

If your iron has melted a hole in the fabric or severely scorched clothes made from synthetic fibers like nylon, polyester, acetate, or acrylic, the damage can never be restored or repaired.

Structured wool garments like coats or suit jackets should be taken to a professional dry cleaner. An experienced tailor may be able to fix a burned hole by reweaving the woolen fabric.

For carpets, patching is possible. If you have any matching carpet scraps or hidden areas under furniture that can be removed, many carpets can be patched by cutting out the burned section and replacing it. This works best on higher-pile carpets where seams can be better hidden.

Tips for Cleaning Clothing or Carpet With Scorch or Burn Marks

  • If you can't treat a scorched cotton shirt right away, submerge it into cold water immediately and let stand 24 hours. The cold water may make the scorched areas disappear.
  • Remove a scorch mark by ironing it again, this time with a piece of clean fabric that's been dipped in hydrogen peroxide. Lay the damp cloth on the scorch, layer it with a pressing cloth, and iron over the layers using a hot setting (but not scorching hot). Keep ironing until the stain disappears.
  • Minor cigarette burns on a carpet might be fixed by first vacuuming over the spot using a long nozzle without having to trim the fibers. The suction generated by the vacuum's nozzle may be able to lift out burned fibers. Lightly sand whatever mark is left using medium-grit (or coarser, if preferred) sandpaper, then vacuum again. Finish by blotting the mark with a non-bleaching commercial cleaner and rinse with cool water. Blot dry.