How to Remove Flammable Liquids from Clothing

Dear Home-Ec101,
This evening right before bed, while he was outside letting the dogs out, my husband saw a roach on our back porch. He was barefoot, so he grabbed the nearest object to him so he could try to kill it. Usually a brilliant man, he had a momentary lapse of stupid, and he smashed this roach with a plastic bottle of lighter fluid. You guessed it: the bottle cracked, and lighter fluid started leaking out on our wooden porch.

He got out the hose and washed off the deck pretty well. I made him strip out of his pajama bottoms while he was outside because he’d gotten lighter fluid on one of the legs. He used the garden hose to rinse the cuff of those out, and they’re going to stay out on the porch overnight.

I know that putting those pants in the dryer if they have any lighter fluid left on them is a recipe for disaster. What’s the best way to handle this? Should I hand-wash and line dry them tomorrow? Is there anything else I need to do with the deck? I know the joke about “Oh, no, there’s a roach! Better burn down the house!” but I’d rather not let that happen.
Signed,
Patient and loving wife

PS Yes, he did manage to kill the roach.

how to remove lighter fluid

Heather says:

I believe what you are referring to as a mere “roach” may be the much more insidious and untrustworthy with their gift of flight, Palmetto Bug. Or, in the words of every transplant who moves to SC, “giant [insert expletive of choice] cockroaches,” which perfectly justifies the level of reaction described.

I hate them. I had one chase me down the hall the night of the housewarming party. Thankfully none of you noticed as I managed to keep the disgusted squeal down to a squeak and did have a shoe handy. No lighter fluid was necessary.

To solve your query: How to safely remove lighter fluid or other flammable liquids from clothing? You are exactly on the right track. Spot wash the affected area and line dry.

how to remove stains from clothes
Click the picture for more tips!

The volatile nature of the chemical plays in your favor when removing it from fabric. For those who don’t have a chemistry background, when a chemical is volatile, that means that it vaporizes quickly, or in even simpler terms, it easily goes from a liquid to a gas. Chemicals like gasoline and perfume are volatile, and in the first example, it helps improve with combustion, and in the second, it allows us to smell the molecules as they drift about. The detergent will take care of most of the petroleum-based fluid, and anything left behind should evaporate.

Use regular detergent or dish detergent and a bucket, rinse thoroughly, and hang dry. The deck will be fine, but you can spot scrub it if it makes you feel better.

Simple and done.

Submit your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

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