How to Clean Smoke and Soot Damage

Smoke and soot damage can be a major problem following a fire. In addition to causing discoloration and unpleasant odors, these contaminants infiltrate many surfaces and can cause permanent damage.

When left untreated, soot damage can start to degrade the surface within minutes. It stains marble and other porous materials, ruins vinyl flooring and smears paint. It can also rust metals and tarnish some woods. Left for extended periods of time, acidic soot particles can etch into painted walls and cause a yellowing effect on wood furniture.

To clean soot damage, first ventilate the area and open windows to minimize smoke odors. Next, vacuum floors and upholstered furniture using a powerful household vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Wash all surfaces with a mild soap or detergent and rinse thoroughly with clean water. After cleaning, a deodorizer can be used to remove any remaining odors.

If a wall is heavily stained with soot, use a sponge dipped in a solution of equal parts vinegar and warm water to wipe away the stain. Rinse the affected area with clear warm water and dry completely. For more severe stains, try diluting household cleaners with water (tri-sodium phosphate, bleach, or a combination of both) and scrubbing the stained areas with a sponge, then rinse again and dry. If the soot stains persist, consult a professional to determine the best removal method. In any case, it is always a good idea to test a new cleaning technique on a small, inconspicuous section of the affected area before proceeding. soot damage cleaning

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