Soot damage cleaning is a vital step in restoring your home or business following fire. It is also important to use the right tools and safety precautions.
Be sure to wear gloves and a mask, as inhaling soot can irritate your lungs and cause other health issues. The first step is to remove loose soot particles with a vacuum cleaner, using the upholstery attachment.
Remove Loose Soot Particles
Soot can cause discoloration, staining and odors in carpets when it becomes embedded. Vacuuming can help remove some of the loose soot particles, but a more thorough removal requires specialized cleaning methods and products. Soot can result from fireplace or wood stove use, candle burning, smoking indoors, cooking mishaps and other activities. Prevention can minimize the need for soot restoration.
Prior to beginning soot restoration, determine what items are salvageable and non-salvageable. Be sure to open windows and doors to allow fresh air to flow through the property during the cleaning process. If you are concerned about safety, consider wearing a dust mask and protective eyewear.
Using buckets of water, towels and rags, begin by wiping away as much loose soot residue from brick walls as possible. Next, dip a toothbrush in baking soda and scrub stubborn spots that refuse to budge. Rinse the brush often. The final step involves using a commercial cleaner, such as Benefect Botanical Atomic Degreaser (diluted) or tri-sodium phosphate, diluted at 4 oz to 1 gallon of water for light soot and 16 oz per gallon of water for heavy/slimy soot.
Remove Soot Stains
Getting rid of soot stains on painted surfaces like walls, ceilings, and doors can be difficult. Luckily, there are a few simple steps that can help. First, saturate the affected surface with water to loosen up any remaining soot. Next, use a scrubbing sponge to gently remove the marks. Finally, rinse the surface with clear water and dry thoroughly before bringing it back inside (to avoid rust).
For carpets that have been stained by soot, try to remove the chunks that are resting on top before moving onto other methods. Vacuuming a carpeted area is essential after fire soot damage because it helps prevent soot from becoming embedded in the fibers and creating permanent discoloration. If you want to go further with your cleaning, consider using a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter to reduce the amount of soot particles that are released into the air.
Other preventive measures for soot damage include regular carpet maintenance, practicing candle safety, avoiding smoking indoors, taking cooking precautions, changing HVAC filters regularly, and using doormats and encouraging family members and guests to remove shoes upon entering the home.
Remove Stains from Light Carpets
If you have a light carpet that is stained by soot, follow these steps to remove the stain. For best results, do this as quickly as possible to prevent the stain from having time to set.
Begin by removing any large chunks of soot that are visible on the surface of your carpet. Be careful not to smash the soot deeper into the carpet as this can cause permanent damage.
Next, sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch (or another household absorbent) onto the stained area of your carpet. Leave the absorbent on for an hour so that it can begin absorbing the soot.
Once the soot has been absorbed, vacuum the area again. Repeat the vacuuming process until there is no more loose soot on the surface of your carpet. This is a vital step in the process and can help to reduce the amount of cleaning needed later on.
Remove Stains from Dark Carpets
Soot residues can be a real pain to remove from dark carpets. First, loosen any visible chunks by vacuuming and gently prying up large lumps with a utensil. This will prevent them from being crushed and smashed deeper into the carpet fibers, causing ghosting on walls and further staining.
After removing the larger chunks, sprinkle an absorbent like baking soda, talcum powder or cornstarch over the entire area. Let it set for about an hour before vacuuming again to extract any loose powder.
Next, use a clean cloth soaked in dry cleaning solvent or hydrogen peroxide to lift any remaining soot stains. Make sure to only use white cloths, as certain chemicals can bleach them, and blot, rather than rub. When the cleaner is absorbed, rinse the affected areas with clean water and wipe away the solvent residue. Finally, let the cleaned carpeting dry completely before returning furniture to it. If you can’t get rid of a stubborn soot stain, contact the pros for help. They’ll know how to do it right, and have more advanced restoration tools that can really get it done.