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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
Phone: 1-800-434-6222
Web Site: www.ifi.org

 
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