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How to Remove Scorch Marks from Clothing

Updated
Don’t let your clothes get burnt to a crisp. 

Scorch marks appear on clothes through ironing. Perhaps the iron was too hot for the fabric type. What happens is the heat melts fibers and leaves behind a burn mark.

Sadly, you can’t always remove scorch marks. But if your garment is made from cotton, linen, ramie or rayon — or other natural fibers — you should try to save the fabric. Cleaning scorch marks from man-made fibers is a bit harder, especially since removing the burn mark actually weakens the fibers.

Whatever kind of stain you have, we’ll help you learn how to remove scorch marks so your fabric looks a little bit better.

How to Remove Scorch Marks

Tackle the issue right away. Dampen a cloth in distilled white vinegar and blot at the scorch mark. Rinse out the vinegar with fresh water. Repeat as necessary. Wash as normal. Dry the garment in direct sunlight. This works on white and colored clothing.


How to Remove Scorch Marks from Clothes

We’ll walk you through our top tips for removing scorch marks from clothing. Remember, every tip doesn’t work for all types of fabric — so check out which type of clothing each tip is best for.

Laundry Detergent or Bleach

Bleaching stain on colored clothes

For this method, we’ll be using a heavy-duty laundry detergent, like Tide or Persil. You can also use bleach if the clothing is white. It’s so important to tackle the burn mark as soon as you notice it for better results.

This method is suitable for all kinds of fabric but works best on natural fabrics.

  1. Rinse the item in warm water. This prepares the item to absorb the laundry detergent and also rinses away any excess residue.
  2. Pour a little bit of heavy-duty laundry detergent over the stain and work it in with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush.
  3. If you’d rather, you can soak the item in bleach as long as the care label allows. Mix together water and bleach per the packaging instructions. Stir together. Soak the item in the solution for 15 minutes.
  4. Wash as normal in your washing machine.
  5. Remove from the washing machine and check on the stain. If it’s still there, repeat the above steps.
  6. Once the stain is gone, hang the item to dry outside in direct sunlight.

Caution

When using bleach, make sure to wear protective gloves and eyewear. Work in a well-ventilated area.

Hydrogen Peroxide

This method works best on heavy scorch marks on white clothes. We will be using both hydrogen peroxide and ammonia, but be sure to never mix these ingredients together, as this can lead to toxic fumes.

  1. Work in a well-ventilated area.
  2. Lightly dampen the stained area.
  3. Pour a little bit of hydrogen peroxide into a bowl.
  4. Using a cotton swab, apply the hydrogen peroxide to the garment.
  5. Pour household ammonia into another bowl.
  6. Using a cotton swab, apply the ammonia to the stained area of the garment.
  7. Let it stand for five minutes. Never let the solution dry.
  8. Rinse in cold water.
  9. Repeat if necessary.
  10. Submerge the scorched item in an oxygen bleach solution overnight. You’ll find the measurement advice on the packaging of your choice of product.

Distilled White Vinegar

White vinegar

Do you want a more eco-friendly option? You can use distilled white vinegar on colored and white clothing.

  1. Dampen a clean white cloth with distilled white vinegar. We say white so there’s no color transfer, plus you can see if the cloth is picking up the stain.
  2. Blot until the stain is gone.
  3. Rinse out the vinegar with fresh water.
  4. Repeat if necessary.
  5. Wash as normal.
  6. Dry in direct sunlight.

Pro Tip

If this isn’t working, you can use color-safe oxygen bleach to soak the garment after step four.

Emery Pad

Polishing pads for clothes

Sometimes, cleaning solutions don’t work for removing heavy scorch marks. Instead, get out an emery pad and try this.

  1. On dry clothing, gently scrub the emery pad over the burn mark.
  2. Repeat until the mark is gone. If you do it too harshly, you may create a new hole.
  3. Soak the garment overnight in an oxygen bleach solution that’s safe for that fabric.
  4. Wash as normal.
  5. Dry in direct sunlight.

Try This

If you don’t have an emery pad, you can use sandpaper or something similar.

Gentle Brushing and Detergent

Woman brushing yellow cloth in dry cleaning

If you have a scorch mark on woolen or delicate item, then you need to take a different approach. The above methods shouldn’t be used for such items. Instead, try this.

  1. Dip a white cloth in distilled white vinegar and blot the scorch mark.
  2. Dip a separate cloth in fresh water and blot the area.
  3. Air dry the fabric.
  4. Use a toothbrush to brush the scorch marks out of the fibers.
  5. Apply a gentle liquid detergent to the scorched area.
  6. Wash on a gentle cycle or hand wash.
  7. Air dry.

It’s harder to get scorch marks out of these articles of clothing, so keep in mind that it may not be possible to rescue the fabric.

How to Remove Iron Scorch Marks from Polyester

It’s harder to remove scorch marks from polyester than natural fibers, but we’re still going to give it a go!

  1. Dampen a pressing cloth and wring it out.
  2. Lay it over the burnt spots.
  3. Hold the iron over the pressing cloth and set it to the steam setting. Let it steam over the garment for a minute or so.
  4. Rub the scorch mark with a clothing brush afterward to remove loosened residue.
  5. Gently scrub the burnt mark with steel wool.
  6. Finally, if necessary, using an emery pad to file down the burn marks.
  7. Wash as normal.
  8. Air dry.

You can also try using our white vinegar method with this issue!

How to Fix Burnt Clothes from Iron

Besides these tips, here are a few more to help you out!

  • For shiny marks, plunge the item into cold water and soak for 24 hours.
  • Wash as normal with half a cup of white vinegar along with your normal detergent.
  • Use the steam from your iron to remove light marks.
  • Bring to a tailor who may be able to reweave the garment to cover up the burn spot.

How to Prevent Scorch Marks While Ironing

Prevention is key to avoiding scorch marks when ironing. It’s much easier to avoid the situation than fix it. Here are our top tips:

  • Clean the soleplate. Check before ironing if it’s clean. You can use a spatula to scrape off burnt bits, but we recommend deep cleaning your iron if you notice any residue on the plate.
  • Use the correct heat setting depending on your fabric. It will say on the garment’s care label which heat setting to use.
  • Lay down a pressing cloth over delicate items that require a lower heat. This prevents scorch marks on the item, but you may experience some on the pressing cloth.
  • If you’re tempted to raise the heat because you’re struggling to get wrinkles out, instead spray the garment with cool water. This can help the iron to better remove the wrinkles.
  • Don’t use starch on synthetic clothing as this can cause scorch marks.
  • Use a handheld steamer where possible.
  • Iron your clothes inside out.

No More Scorch Marks

Say goodbye to your scorch marks with these great removal tips. Our five methods, plus extra tips for various fabrics, will help you remove the toughest of scorch marks. Just keep in mind, it’s harder to remove from some fabrics, like wool and polyester.

In general, the best method is prevention. So make sure to iron wisely so that your clothes stay in tip-top condition.

Headshot of Beth McCallum

About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a 20-something freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!