Laundry Fires Due To Spontaneous Combustion. Shirtlaundry. International
Fabricare Institute Bulletin.
Abstract: The Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted spontaneous
combustion tests of cotton towels containing unsaturated vegetable oils.
Unsaturated cooking oils that are commonly found in the kitchen include
canola, soybean, corn, and sunflower oils. When laundered, dried, and folded,
these substances have the potential to ignite. The key factors include the
amount of oil and the fabric used. Cotton terrycloth is an extremely flammable
substance and was used in this experiment. The results of the tests revealed
that a towel with 20% of its weight consisting of oil could ignite. The
combustion usually occurred in the dryer or after removal from the dryer,
although the towels could ignite during laundering. An exothermic reaction
from the oils oxidizing on the cotton towels causes their temperature to
increase and eventually ignite. To prevent this process, the oil should
be cleaned from the towels before laundering them.
For more information, contact:
International Fabricare Institute
12251 Tech Road
Silver Spring, MD 20904
Web Site: www.ifi.org