The Laundry Debacle
Any time ProJan Restoration has a smoke, fire, or soot claim to work on, LAUNDRY seems to be a wild card. Its expensive from the insurance standpoint to professionally clean all the soiled laundry, and it’s difficult for the restorer to have to deal with. Most restorers don’t have onsite laundry facilities. We rely on other “experts” to take care of it.
Most of the time a “dry cleaning/laundry specialist” is called in to handle it. I know our staff always cautions the “cleaner” to use good sense and clean what needs to be cleaned. But unfortunately many times what happens is every stitch of clothing, bedding, and junk is taken to the “cleaners”. I believe there is a more suitable solution, and with due diligence, we can control the cost.
Clothing is a highly personal item and has to be cleaned when there has been moderate to heavy smoke/soot situations. In the case of water damage, the laundry cleaning is not as rigorous, but still has to be handled.
First, get the homeowner involved in the process by separating the garments into 4 categories.
- Disposables: Have the insured separate and dispose of worn-out, outgrown, or out dated clothing. This saves the insurance company money and helps the homeowner have a pro-active part of the claims process. Remember, older clothing is the most likely to come apart during the cleaning process. It is easier to go through the clothing first.
- Immediate needs: These are the garments that each family member will need for the next week. Make sure the homeowner has enough to get by with and feel comfortable.
- High-value items: This category has a large impact on the claim costs. This includes furs, leathers, and other formal wear. There are limits in the policy for furs and other high cost items. Cleaning these items can be costly because they require a little extra attention. Let the experienced dry cleaner advise you here.
- Routine cleaning: Finally, we have all the other items that need to be cleaned. By following the previous steps we should have a manageable amount of clothing left. Some of these items can be cleaned by the home owner. When the homeowner cleans items themselves there may be opportunity for “deductible allowances” or compensation to the homeowner in a “per load” consideration. As mentioned before, getting the homeowner involved is a huge advantage.
If the homeowner is doing the laundry there are some good pointers you can give them to remove odor. The first step is wash as soon as you can, this helps eliminate the odor quickly.
- Clean the cloths according to the instructions on the label.
- For bedding that has light soot damage, put the coverings in the dryer with a “fabric dryer sheet” and light dry for 30 minutes.
If he residue and odor are to strong, the recommendation would be to use a professional dry cleaner, however we have included some instructions below for those who may want to try to remove it themselves…
How to clean clothes with a strong smoke odors
- Fill a 5-gallon bucket with equal amounts of warm water and white distilled vinegar.
- Place the clothes in the bucket overnight to soak them.
- Place the clothes in the washing machine with detergent.
- Launder the clothing according to the care label.
- Hang the clothes outside to air-dry. You can hang them indoors if the weather prevents you from hanging them outdoors. Air-drying the clothes allows for greater circulation to remove any lingering odors.
- Soak the clothes in the vinegar solution again if you still notice the smoke smell. Launder the clothing in your washing machine and hang it to air-dry.
Note: The vinegar will leave a slight odor, but will dissipate with time.