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How to remove soot stains from clothes and carpet

Soot from fire pits, fireplaces and candles can leave major stains. Here's what experts say you can do to get rid of them.
Group of friends in a backyard, roasting marshmallows over a fire pit
For soot removal, the best thing to do is to shake the soot off outside, if possible.Anchiy / Getty Images
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/ Source: TODAY

Whether it comes from a burnt candlewick, a fireplace, or that fire pit you've been holding all your socially distanced gatherings around this spring, soot can leave one heck of a stain. As much as you want to brush candle black soot or fireplace soot off, be careful. If you press too hard, you’ll spread the soot and make the stain that much worse. For soot removal, the best thing to do is to shake the soot off outside, if possible.

Here's how to tackle the stain using suggestions from cleaning coach Leslie Reichert and carpet cleaning pro Dean Carter.

Removing soot from clothing and tablecloths

After shaking out the soot (into the garbage or outside), start to clean soot by flushing water through the back of the stain to remove any residue. You can either pre-treat with a stain remover (like Shout) or soak the item for 15-30 minutes in a soot cleaner solution of 1 gallon of cool water and 1 ½ tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent.

Wash the item in detergent at the hottest water recommended on the care label. To help remove leftover oily residue from the soot, add a cup of distilled white vinegar to the wash water. If the stain is large, you can also add an oxygen bleach (like OxiClean) according to package directions

Repeat the above steps if necessary until the stain is gone. Machine dry once there aren't any traces of the stain.

Removing soot from upholstery and carpet

Large soot stains should be professionally removed, whether on carpet or upholstery, advises Carter. Without professional expertise and equipment, you can actually make these stains worse.

To tackle lighter stains, do not brush the stain. Instead, Carter recommends removing the soot with a shop vac. (Vacuum cleaners with beater bars and brushes can actually spread the stain, so avoid using them.)

Next, using a soft toothbrush and solution (1 tablespoon of detergent to 1 pint warm water, mixed briskly until suds appear), lightly wet the brush with the suds and gently scrub the stain, starting at the outside and working in.

Using a clean towel, remove soot and suds by blotting the moistened area as you go, using an upward, twisting motion. Repeat until stain is removed, taking care not to get the area too wet. Remove sudsy residue with a damp, clean cloth, repeating the upward, twisting motion. Continue until all detergent residue is removed. Air dry, then vacuum and you'll be as good as new.

This article was originally published on Dec. 13, 2017.