How to Remove Scorch or Burn Marks From Clothes and Carpet

scorched shirt

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Ironing scorch marks happen. The phone rings, you get distracted and leave the iron in one place on the fabric for too long. Or, most likely, you chose an ironing temperature that was too hot for the fabric. Now what?

Stain type Scorched or melted fibers
Detergent type Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Water temperature Varies
Cycle type Varies

Project Metrics

  • Working time: 15 minutes
  • Total time: 1 to 10 hours

Before You Begin

Too much heat from an iron can damage some garments permanently by melting the fibers. However, if the scorched fabric is made from natural fibers like cotton, linen, ramie, rayon or wool you may be able to save it. However, remember that the fabric will be weakened permanently in the scorched area and will wear out more quickly than the rest of the garment.

Warnings

  • If the 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. 
  • If the fabric has melted onto the soleplate of your iron, follow these tips to remove the melted fibers. DO NOT use the iron again until the soleplate is cleaned or you will ruin another piece of clothing.

What You'll Need

Supplies

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

Tools

  • Soft-bristled brush
  • White cloths
  • Washer or large sink
  • Emery board (optional)
  • Manicure scissors (optional)

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 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 dipping a cotton swab in hydrogen peroxide, a mild bleaching agent, and apply it to the stain.

  2. Swab With Household Ammonia

    Dip another cotton swab into 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 a bowl. 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.

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 from Wool

Scorched wool must be handled a bit differently because it is a protein fiber.

  1. Treat Shiny Streaks With Vinegar

    If you have created a shiny streak on wool when ironing because you forgot to use a pressing cloth, 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, 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 works well, to remove burned or charred 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.

  4. Visit a Dry Cleaner or Tailor

Structured garments like coats or suit jackets should be taken to a professional dry cleaner. Point out the problem and they may be able to help. If a hole has appeared, an experienced tailor may be able to reweave the woolen fabric.

How to Remove Burn Marks on Carpets

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

  1. Treat 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.

    Do not use on dark-colored carpet.

  2. Buff Away the Burned Fibers

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

  3. Trim Away the Burned Fibers

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

  4. Patch the Burned Area

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.