How to Clean Clothes and Carpet to Remove Burn Marks

Burn marks on clothes and carpet can be unsightly and difficult to remove. With the right cleaning methods and products, you can often eliminate burn marks completely. This guide will provide tips and step-by-step instructions for removing burn marks from both fabrics and carpeting.

Assessing the Burn Damage on Clothes

When attempting to clean burn marks from clothing, first examine the fabric and burn to determine the best approach.

Types of Burns and Fabrics

  • Singed or scorched fabric: This type of burn turns the fibers brown but does not completely destroy the material. Scorch marks are often found on synthetic blends and natural fabrics like cotton, linen, and silk.
  • Melted fabric: With more extreme heat exposure, fabric fibers can melt together, creating holes, shiny patches, and stiff, warped areas. Melted spots are common on synthetics like polyester and nylon.
  • Charred or burned-through fabric: Severe burns can incinerate fabric, leaving crumbly, delicate charred sections or actual holes. Burned-through spots are usually not repairable.

Assess the Size and Severity

  • Examine the fabric closely. Scorched and lightly melted areas have a better chance of being removed than significant charring.
  • Check how much fabric is damaged. Small scorch marks and melted dots can often be cleaned while large burn holes cannot be repaired.
  • Consider the location. Burns on collars, cuffs, hems or other reinforced areas have a higher success rate for removal. Burns on delicate sections may destroy the fabric when cleaned.

Pre-Treating and Spot Cleaning Burn Marks on Fabric

Once you have assessed the burn, you can pre-treat and spot clean the area to lift and remove the mark. Always test cleaning products on an inconspicuous area first.

Heat Set Stains

If the burn is an actual brown or black burn stain set in the fabric, these steps may help remove it:

  • Apply a small amount of liquid laundry detergent directly on the stain and let sit for a few minutes.
  • Gently rub the detergent into the fabric using a soft-bristled toothbrush or cotton swab.
  • Rinse detergent out with cool running water.
  • Repeat process as needed until no more stain is lifted.
  • Wash in the washing machine as normal.

Scorched or Melted Areas

For scorched, melted, or shiny burn spots, try these methods:

  • Lay the garment flat and position the burned area over a clean white towel.
  • Use a cotton swab to apply a solvent like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, or acetone nail polish remover (for manmade fabrics only) to the damaged area.
  • Let it sit for 1-2 minutes, blotting occasionally with the towel underneath to draw out the stain.
  • Avoid vigorous rubbing as it can harm the fibers.
  • Rinse with cool water and air dry.

Stubborn Scorch Marks

For scorch stains that resist other methods, make a concentrated bleach paste:

  • Mix 1 part sodium hypochlorite bleach with 6 parts cool water.
  • Use an eyedropper to apply the paste directly to the stain.
  • Let sit for 1-2 minutes max.
  • Rinse thoroughly in cool water and launder normally.
  • Check label first, as bleach may discolor some fabrics.

Removing Burn Holes and Melted Sections from Clothes

While burns that remove sections of fabric cannot be restored, the damaged area can often be minimized with these techniques:

Fraying Edges

  • Trim any loose, frayed threads around a hole with small scissors to neaten the area. Avoid cutting the actual material.

Melted Areas

  • Use tweezers to gently pick off any stiff, melted globules of fabric around the damaged section. Remove just the melted part, not unaffected fabric.
  • For melted holes with frayed edges, consider applying a small amount of clear nail polish to the fringe. This can bind them together and make fraying less noticeable.

Patching Small Holes

  • Purchase iron-on fabric repair tape or patches that match the fabric color and pattern. Many varieties are available online or in sewing shops.
  • Cut a patch slightly larger than the hole and follow package directions to fuse it onto the backside of the damaged fabric. Trim excess.
  • For valuable or delicate items, consult a professional tailor for mending holes and tears.

Removing Burn Marks from Carpet Fibers

Eliminating burn marks from carpet involves many of the same steps used on clothing but adapted for the carpet pile and fibers.

Types of Carpet Burns

  • Singed fibers: Shallow burns that scorch and mat down the carpet pile without extensive damage.
  • Melted spots: Deeper burns from direct contact with heat source that can fuse carpet fibers together. Often stiff, shiny, and hardened.
  • Burn holes: Severe heat destroys the carpet fibers completely, leaving torn-out sections and holes. Not usually repairable.

Cleaning Mild Carpet Burn Marks

For mild singed spots or minor melting on synthetic carpets:

  • Use tweezers to gently work apart any melted carpet fibers stuck together. Avoid pulling out intact fibers.
  • Mix a solution of 2 tablespoons clear hand dishwashing detergent per 1 cup warm water. Use a small brush or sponge to gently scrub the burned area, rinsing repeatedly with clean water.
  • After cleaning, lay a stack of white paper towels over the area and place a flat weight on top like books or boxes. Allow to dry completely.

Removing Stains From Deep Carpet Burns

For darker stains in deep burned areas:

  • Make a diluted hydrogen peroxide solution – 1 part peroxide to 5 parts water. Apply directly to the stain with an eyedropper. Do not rub, just let sit.
  • If bubbling stops, re-apply more solution. Allow to work for 2-3 minutes maximum.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean towels or paper towels. Absorb as much liquid as possible.
  • You can also use an enzymatic carpet cleaner by applying as directed, allowing to dwell, and blotting up excess moisture.
  • Allow carpet to fully dry before vacuuming up any remaining loosened fibers.

Fixing Carpet Burn Holes

For holes and missing sections of carpet due to severe burns:

  • Carefully cut out the damaged carpet fibers with small scissors. Make the edges as clean and even as possible.
  • Measure the size and depth of the hole. Purchase a carpet patch slightly larger than the hole.
  • Following package directions, place patch glue on the underside and press into hole. Add weight like books and allow glue to dry.
  • Use scissors to carefully trim patch edges level with carpet pile. Blend edges by brushing surrounding carpet.
  • For valuable carpets or large damaged areas, contact a professional carpet repair service for patching.

How to Avoid Clothes and Carpet Burns

You can help prevent burns from occurring by being cautious when dealing with heat sources:

  • Keep clothes a safe distance from stoves, candles, fires, cigarettes, irons, and other sources of heat or flame.
  • Never leave heating appliances like curling irons or hair straighteners plugged in or lying on flammable surfaces like beds or sofas.
  • Iron clothing on a stable ironing board, not on carpets. Don’t leave a hot iron unattended.
  • Clean out lint traps and vents on clothes dryers before each use to prevent accumulated fluff from igniting.
  • Take care when disposing of cigarettes, matches and smoking materials. Use deep ashtrays and douse butts completely in water.
  • Inspect fireplaces and chimneys annually. Embers or stray sparks can ignite rugs, carpets and furniture. Use screens and swept hearths.
  • Supervise young children near any heat source. Keep candles in stable holders on uncluttered surfaces, out of children’s reach.

Burn Mark Removal Methods to Avoid

When cleaning burn marks, some traditional approaches may cause further damage and should be avoided:

No Scouring Pads

  • Stay away from stiff scrub brushes, scouring pads and steel wool. These can shred delicate burned fibers.

Skip the Hard Rubbing

  • Aggressively rubbing a burn can harm the weakened, fragile fibers and spread the stain. Gently dab or blot instead.

Avoid Hot Water

  • Hot water can set in stains. Always use cool or lukewarm water when spot cleaning burn marks.

No Bleach or Discoloring Products

  • Check fabric care labels first. Bleaches and stain removers with optical brighteners can discolor, weaken, or dissolve fibers.

Skip the Iron

  • Avoid pressing down on burn marks with an iron. The heat and pressure can further damage the spot.

Summary of Removing Burn Marks from Clothes and Carpet

To safely clean burn marks from fabric and carpet:

  • Carefully inspect the burn damage and fabric type before choosing a cleaning method.
  • Pre-treat stains with detergent, hydrogen peroxide, or rubbing alcohol. Avoid bleach.
  • Gently dab liquids into the stain rather than rubbing vigorously.
  • Rinse thoroughly with cool, clean water to remove all residue.
  • Neaten edges and patch small holes to minimize damages.
  • Frequently clean lint from dryers, use fireplace screens, and keep heat sources away from fabrics.
  • Take garments to a professional cleaner or tailor for stubborn marks or extensive repairs.

With some persistence and the proper techniques, you can often refresh clothes and carpet marked by accidental singes, scorches, and melts. Just be sure to test products first and always handle damaged fibers gently.

Frequently Asked Questions About Removing Burn Marks from Fabrics and Carpeting

How can I get cigarette or iron burns out of clothes?

  • For small cigarette burns, gently scrape off any loose ash or debris, then apply a few drops of hydrogen peroxide, followed by hand dishwashing detergent. For iron scorch marks, apply rubbing alcohol and rinse thoroughly with cool water. Take heavily damaged items to a professional cleaner.

Will baking soda and vinegar remove burn stains from carpet?

  • No, do not use vinegar or any acidic cleaners on carpet burns, as they can further set the stain and damage fibers. For surface carpet singes, instead use an enzymatic cleaner or mild detergent solution. Blot don’t rub.

Can I use acetone to remove melted plastic burns?

  • Yes, for manmade fabrics like polyester, acetate, acrylic, etc., dip a cotton swab in acetone nail polish remover and gently rub the melted spot, rinsing immediately after. Avoid acetone on natural fibers like wool or silk.

How do you fix a hole in clothes from a burn?

  • For small holes, purchase an iron-on fabric repair patch or tape in a matching color. Cut out the patch, place glue-side down over hole, and apply heat from iron to seal patch in place. Trim edges. Take items with large holes to a tailor.

What is the best homemade carpet cleaner for burn marks?

  • Mix one part hydrogen peroxide with 5 parts water and apply directly to the stain using an eyedropper. Let bubble for 2-3 minutes max and then blot up liquid. Rinse with cool water blotting up all moisture. Allow carpet to fully dry before vacuuming.

Should I cut out burned carpet fibers or leave them intact?

  • Remove only completely charred/damaged tufts using small scissors. Fray surrounding fibers inward with tweezers but leave intact piles alone. Cut out burned sections only if hole goes down to the flooring underneath. Use a patch sized slightly larger than hole.

How can I minimize damage to clothes or carpet from heat sources?

  • Keep fabrics at a safe distance from irons, stoves, fireplaces, candles etc. Clean out dryer lint traps frequently. Unplug hot tools like straighteners when not in use. Use fireplace screens, deep ashtrays, and stable candle holders. Supervise children near any heat source.


Burn marks in fabrics and carpeting can often be remedied with prompt cleaning using mild detergents, solvents like hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, and occasionally bleach. Always test on an inconspicuous area first. Gently dab stains instead of rubbing. If holes or melted patches remain, you can neatly trim the edges and cover with a patch or adhesive tape. Preventing burns by being cautious around all heat sources will help keep clothes and carpets looking their best. With some persistence and care, burn damage can usually be minimized for both clothing and flooring.