Soot Damage – How to Properly Remove Soot Damage


Soot damage is often the most visible sign of smoke or fire damage. It is a black, powdery or flaky substance that is formed through incomplete combustion and tends to adhere to surfaces. It can also stain surfaces and can impact indoor air quality, posing health hazards if inhaled.

Soot can be very difficult to remove. Its oily nature causes it to cling to surfaces and can stain them, requiring specialized cleaning products and techniques to properly remove.

Begin by removing as much soot as possible with the vacuum cleaner’s flat attachment, or by using a dry chemical sponge. Be sure to test the sponge or cleaner on a small, inconspicuous area before applying it to the surface. If you are worried about damaging wood, consider covering it with plastic or dropping cloths before applying the cleaning solution.

Clean walls and other surfaces with a commercial soot/smoke remover, rubbing alcohol, white vinegar or paint thinner dissolved in a gallon of water. Use a sponge or rag to wash the surfaces, including light bulbs. Be sure to blot, rather than scrub, to avoid working the soot into the surface or leaving a permanent stain.

Soot can stain light carpets, but if treated promptly and correctly, it can usually be removed. Blot stains with a damp, clean cloth and be sure to use a commercial soot/smoke cleaner rather than bleach. If you are concerned about staining, sprinkle baking soda or another absorbent powder on the stains, leave it for an hour or more and then vacuum up the baking soda. If this doesn’t work, consider consulting a professional for an ozone treatment or taking the carpet to a dry cleaner. soot damage cleaning

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