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How To Restore Water Damaged Clothes


Because people usually focus on bigger areas that have suffered from flood water, water damaged clothes are normally forgotten about. The ability to restore clothing is strongly affected by how heavily they were soaked and the amount of time they were soaked. When handling these clothing items, it is important to stay cautious and be aware of the condition of the clothing. Protection gear is advised while handling.

Often, a homeowner is not able to prevent what gets wet and what doesn’t. Although some items can be brought back to life through the process of restoration with a basic washer and dryer, others may need more help from content cleaning services. By understanding how clothing is affected by water damage, you will have a clear picture of how to address the items with as little lost.

What you need to know about your water-damaged clothes

  • Not all water damaged clothes are restorable. The good news is – most are.
  • Water damaged clothes can be restored at home or professionally.
  • You need to address water damaged clothes as quickly as possible in order achieve the best results.
  • Do not keep clothing that is beyond restoration. This may cause health risks.
  • There are several different methods that can be used in the restoration process.

How heavily where they soiled?

One way to analyze the damage on clothing would be to determine how wet the pieces are. Wet clothing can open the door for a lot of mold and mildew to start forming. Because mildew can cause a variety of health issues for both allergic and non-allergic people, it is important to identify whether bacteria has become present in the clothing. Potential health risks include bloody nose, congestion, sneezing, eye irritation, and more.

The clothing items should be handled with caution due to the presence of various types of bacteria such as, aspergillus fumigatus, which is a major player for respiratory problems. Signs of mold include a musty odor, discoloration or growth, and or visible settled spores. Clothes that are badly infested should be enclosed polyethylene bags and sent to professionals for decontamination.

How long have they been wet?

To best understand the condition of your clothing, try to get a clear picture of how long they have been wet. Getting a better understanding of time soiled will allow clarity of what is needed for the restoration.

Under the best conditions, it takes 24-48 hours for mold to grow, 3-12 days for spores to begin forming, and 18-21 days for these spores to become visible. It is important to be cautious when handling clothing items that have been extensively soiled. With this being said, it is important to address clothing as quickly as possible in order to have a better chance of maintaining their condition. Wondering how to remove water damage in clothing? Please reference the information below for details on how to properly clean restorable clothing.

Separate water damaged clothes

With water damaged clothes, it will be best to start by separating clothing according to color and make. Separating the clothing will allow you to clearly make a decision on what products to use on your loads and how to wash each one properly. Wearing gloves and a mask during each step with prevent any excess debris exposure that could be harmful to you.

Rinse water damaged clothes

Doing this will prevent any further dirt or mildew from settling into the clothing. To avoid heavy exposure with bacteria or dust, it would also be best to wear gloves and a dust mask to clean your clothes. Wearing gloves and a mask will protect one from any excess debris that could be harmful.

Pre-wash water damaged clothes

If your washer includes a pre-wash cycle, this would be helpful to maximize your regular wash. Doing a pre-wash of contaminated clothing allows for a better breakdown of clothing to get rid of all the dirt and stains. In addition, you may also add a mold remover such as bleach, borax, vinegar, baking soda, detergent specific for killing mold, or an enzyme presoak to help clean and disinfect. With water damaged clothes, using a disinfectant will help to eliminate the bacteria present. Using a regular detergent or dish soap alone will not sufficiently rid clothing of harmful bacteria or visible spore spots.

Tip: The following solution is proven to get rid of mold in clothing.

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda in 12 oz spray bottle
  • Fill rest of bottle with white vinegar
  • Shake until mixed
  • Spray on clothing where it’s needed
  • Wash normally after

In addition, Lestoil may also be used to presoak laundry by applying the product on spore spots and allowing it to sit for 10-20 minutes to breakdown the damage or discoloration.

Wash water damaged clothes

When washing clothes in the washing machine, it would be best to use powder laundry detergent, some form of disinfectant, and the hottest water recommended by the clothing. All the following will aid to, not only get your clothing in wearable condition, but to get them sanitized as well. There are lots of laundry disinfectants available, so choose whichever is best for the clothing per make, color, and level of damage.

Evaluation of water damaged clothes

After all washing is done, make sure to review all clothes for any more stains or smell. This final step helps to make sure that all your clothes are safe to wear again. If you find that there are still stains or smell from clothes, try taking them to your local dry clean business and explain the condition of the clothes. If they are unable to restore the clothing, it would be best to part ways with the pieces.