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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Removing Burn Stains

By Dr. Laundry January 26, 2010

Q. I just made a burn stain on my favorite linen shirt. Do you know if I can take it out with some bleach?

A. The dividing line for scorch marks is how badly/deeply the mark is in the fabric. Light marks usually can be removed, while deep ones probably will always have some/a lot of permanent discoloration.

I’m assuming the linen shirt is white or bleachable, and not severely discolored. Your best bet is to try and make a 50/50 hydrogen peroxide solution, add it to a dampened old white cloth, and apply it to the scorched area. To help increase the removal, use another piece of dry white cloth over the damp one, and press a medium heated iron onto it to encourage transfer of the scorch. Keep rotating damp and dry clothes until the scorch is removed. When finished, make sure you thoroughly rinse the bottom of the iron to prevent rusting AND wash the garment immediately in the warmest water recommended on the care label in detergent and the appropriate bleach. You can also try drying the item using some diluted lemon juice and sunlight to help lighten the stain (on whites/light colors only). Again, a regular wash should be completed after the exposure.