Caution: Hot towels

We have covered spontaneously combusting laundry before. Here is another case.

A freak house fire in east London was caused by spontaneously igniting tea towels that had not been washed properly, fire chiefs believe.

Source: Warning after ‘dirty tea towels spontaneously combust’, causing flat fire in east London 

Any residue of oil left on the towels can burn if they are dried and left hot. Remove kitchen towels from the dryer and let cool before folding and storing. The more you know…

No one was hurt in this fire.


  2 comments for “Caution: Hot towels

  1. Simon S.
    September 15, 2015 at 6:29 AM

    I’ve heared of rags covered in linseed oil spontaneously combusting before, so this is plausible, depending on the type of oil, which the article doesn’t mention.
    It’s to do with what happens as the linseed oil on the rag dries out, it reacts with the oxygen in the air, which is an an exothermic reaction, generating heat. If the rags are scrunched up and piled together, enough heat can be generated in the rag pile as to cause a fire! The precaution to take against this is to hang the linseed oil covered rags out on a line to dry, so that any heat generated will easily dissipate as the rags dry. I think this was fairly common knowledge decades ago when linseed oil was a more commonly used item for oiling cricket bats to preserve and strengthen the wood etc.

  2. Scott F
    September 23, 2015 at 7:22 PM

    I actually put out a rag fire in a hotel I worked at. It was rags from the kitchen that were left hot from the dryer in a basket.

Comments are closed.