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Even laundry masters make mistakes; so if you've ever ironed clothes, you’ve probably scorched a few items over the years.
In some cases, the marks are so intense that they actually melt the fabric or leave a really dark mark that can't be removed. But there are other times — like when it's actually the spray starch that's burnt on or the scorch is lighter — there's pretty good chance it can be removed. Cleaning coach Leslie Reichert and carpet cleaning pro Dean Carter are happy to tell you how to do it.
If there's a scorch stain on white cotton...
Start by dabbing the mark with hydrogen peroxide, says Reichert. Give it about a minute to work on the stain, then rinse it out. Repeat as needed. The rinsing step is really important because hydrogen peroxide can weaken fibers if it’s not rinsed out completely. Ammonia can also lighten a scorch mark but, according to Reichert, it doesn't work as well as peroxide.
If the scorch is on colored fabric...
For scorch marks on colored clothing, try using distilled white vinegar. Dab it on with a clean white cloth (so you can see if you’re picking up the stain or not). Repeat until stain is gone, then rinse out the vinegar with fresh water.
If neither of the above options do the trick, it’s time to try some color-safe oxygen bleach like OxiClean, suggests Reichert. First, check the garment care label to make sure it’s safe to use oxygen bleach. If so, soak the garment overnight in a solution of warm water and oxygen bleach, mixed according to package directions. Run the garment through a wash cycle in the morning. If the scorch mark is fading, repeat the process. Just don’t put the item in the dryer until the mark is completely gone or else you’ll set the stain.
If there's a scorch mark on wool or fuzzy fabric...
You may be able to snip off the singed areas or brush them off with a toothbrush. If the scorch mark has penetrated the fabric beneath the fuzzy area, it's nearly impossible to remove. In any case, bring it to a cleaning professional as soon as possible. Depending on the extent of damage, they may be able to help.
If you've scorched the carpet...
Scorch marks happen — even on carpet. Whether you accidentally dropped a hot iron or scorched it while working on iron-on crafts, there’s not much you can do to remove the stain once the heat has damaged the fibers.
However, according to Carter, “A professional carpet cleaner may be able to either trim away the damaged pile or remove the damaged area and replace it with a ‘donor piece’ from the back of a closet (or some other out-of-the-way place). Depending on the age of the carpet, artificial ‘wear’ can be put into the carpet by lightly rubbing the carpet on some clean concrete. The amount of rubbing will depend on the age and location of the repair.”
Great advice, and it’s a lot cheaper than replacing the entire carpet!