How To Get Creosote Out Of Clothes

How To Get Creosote Out Of Clothes (What Could Go Wrong?)

Raise your hand if you’ve ever dealt with the ‘pain’ of washing off creosote out of clothes!

If you (or your significant other) are always around fires, cleaning chimneys, or have a wood-burning oven/stove, and you wash your own clothes, you might know what I’m talking about. Apart from staining your hands, creosote stains really stick to your clothes and can be really difficult to remove.

“Just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not there.”

Laura Wilson

A fitting quote for stains, isn’t it?

Good thing there are some methods that are sure to work!

For these tricks, we are going to need a good laundry detergent, warm water, and oil-based solutions.

Whatever you do, DO NOT put your creosote-filled clothes in the washing machine!

What is Creosote?

Before we continue, let’s look at what creosote is real quick. Knowing this will give you a better idea of handling the stain on your clothes.

Hands Covered In Black Dirt From Smoke

Creosote is condensed smoke and other material from burning wood or fuel. When the oil is not burnt fully, they leave some gasses which travel with the smoke. This cools and becomes solid, which is at first, flaky. The flaky deposit is the creosote, which gets on your clothes.

It’s manageable to remove when it’s in this stage, however, if you leave it, it can harden, especially if you have a lot on your clothes.

Creosote is toxic too. It can cause breathing problems and irritated skin. So, you have to treat your creosoted clothes before wearing them as you may get a rash and itchy skin.

What to Do When Creosote Gets on Your Clothes 

Since creosote may seem like a simple stain, you’d probably want to just pop it in the washing machine. The heat from your washing machine can make the creosote set in the clothes or leak, staining your clothes even more.

So, you have to wash your affected clothes by hand. I mentioned before you need an oil-based substance. These include:

  • WD-40
  • Any type of oil (cooking oil, coconut oil, etc.)
  • Butter (not a lot!)

Apply a bit of this on the creosote stain, then wipe slowly with a clean cloth. Don’t rub frantically; rather, wipe in one direction to avoid spreading the stain. Obviously, we can’t leave our clothes with an oil residue now, so it’s time for detergent!

Mix up some laundry detergent and warm water. Lather it onto the creosote stain and leave it to sit for a while. Repeat this until you see the stains fade. Don’t use extremely hot water as you’ll risk your clothes getting ruined!

Wash your clothes as normal by hand. It’s better like this as you don’t risk other items being stained. It’s also better to air dry the clothes rather than pop them in the dryer. Without the spin cycle of a washing machine, it is likely that your clothes will be too wet for the dryer so hanging them dry in some sun is your best bet!

Help! There’s Hard Creosote on My Clothes!

If you were cleaning the chimney and discovered some tar-like substance on your clothes, then the above method may not be as effective for you. Let’s try other methods then.

You can either try vinegar and baking soda, or nail polish remover.

Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover can help with stubborn creosote. Soak the problem area with some nail varnish and then wash as normal with detergent. Alternatively, you can also use acetone. Baking soda can be used in this method too.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

I’m sure all our generations of families used this combination for various types of stains. It turns out that vinegar plus baking soda can also work for creosote stains.

Combine some white vinegar with warm water and laundry detergent. Soak your clothes for a while and rinse properly afterward. Make a baking soda paste and apply it to the stain for the best results.

The baking soda will also eliminate the horrible creosote smell. When you’re done, hang dry in the sun!

Surprisingly, Coca-Cola can also work for creosote on your clothes. I came across this in a discussion forum, and if you’re all out of ideas, then you can try that idea. If all else fails, then… you should probably throw it away. It’s best to do this to avoid getting an annoying rash if you end up wearing creosote-filled clothes.

Clean Shirts On Clothesline

Frequently Asked Questions

Does bleach remove creosote?

Yes, bleach (and Oxi Booster) can dissolve creosote stains from your clothes. However, you shouldn’t use bleach on its own on your clothes! Make a solution with some warm water and dab it on the stain with a clean rag. You would see it fading as you go.

How do you get creosote smell out of washing machine?

You can use our savior, vinegar!

Use about four cups of white vinegar into the drum or detergent container and run a hot-water cycle. This should get rid of the creosote smell and keep your washing machine smelling fresh.