In the aftermath of a fire, soot can transform even the toughest of interior materials into a stained, charred, and blackened mess. While investigating the damage, you may notice a dusting of powdered particulates or a film of black residue clinging to everything from the baseboards to the ceiling panels.
Soot is highly acidic, caustic to the touch, and when agitated and propelled into the air, poses a serious breathing hazard. Since soot can contain a combination of unknown toxic chemicals and carcinogenic ash, removing soot after a fire requires professional protective gear and an organized plan.
If you do decide to manage the cleanup on your own, here are some safety items and cleaning products you’ll need:
- Tarps, Plastic Sheets, & Masking Tape
- Large Plastic Trash Bags
- Rubber Gloves & Hard-Soled Shoes
- N95 or N99 Respirator
- Sealed Safety Goggles
- A Step Ladder
- A Broom & Dust Pan
- A Bucket, Wash Rags, & a Chemical Dry Cleaning Sponge
- A Mild Soap, Trisodium Phosphate (TSP), & Bleach
- A Spray Bottle to Dampen Ash-Covered Debris
- A Fan to Ventilate the Area While Cleaning
Contain the Area to the Best of Your Ability
To prevent contaminating nearby rooms, quarantine the damaged area with tarps, plastic sheets, and masking tape, and close the doors to the room before you begin working. Soot will cling to your boots and cleaning tools, so be sure to remove your shoes and any other items covered in soot after each cleanup session to prevent tracking it throughout your home.
After sealing up the area, it’s time to clear out the bulk of the damaged items.
Remove Destroyed Objects & Debris First
Clearing out the bulk of damaged items before cleaning will give you more room to work and minimize the spread of charred ash. Any unsalvageable items like destroyed kitchen chairs or cabinets should be removed first. Be sure to inspect all commonly affected materials like ceiling panels, wall decorations, and window treatments.
For items covered in powdered soot, you can use the spray bottle to dampen the objects and minimize airborne contamination during the removal process. If possible, transfer the damaged items directly into an exterior dumpster or waste bin placed outside the window. If you don’t have direct access to an exterior dumpster, load debris and other damaged items into plastic bags before removal.
Begin Cleaning What You Can
In general, hard and non-porous surfaces like sealed woods, tile, painted drywall, and metal can usually be cleaned, and porous materials like clothing and furniture may only be salvageable with professional deep cleaning.
Since you will be using noxious cleaning chemicals and agitate soot particulates while you clean, be sure to open the windows before you start. With your mask, gloves, and boots on, start by sweeping up the bulk of the soot dust. Next, you can begin scrubbing the floors and other hard surfaces with a mixture of mild soap/water or bleach/water. For more serious stains and stubborn soot accumulation, mix a tablespoon of TSP into a gallon of water and use with the wash rags. Always spot-check products on a small area before cleaning larger sections, then rinse each area without oversaturating the surfaces.
After successfully removing the bulk of the soot from the cabinets or walls, you can try to tackle any residual stains with a chemical dry cleaning sponge. Simply rub the dry sponge along the affected drywall or ceiling panels and the soot will absorb into the sponge. After the sponge is saturated with soot, rinse thoroughly and air dry before using it again.
For carpets and furnishings, professional carpet and upholstery cleaning can be effective for minimal soot. For some fabric types and clothing, a regular or bleach wash cycle may do the trick. It depends on how serious the soot stains are, and you may need to replace these softer material types even after deep cleaning.
Contact Our Professional Soot Removal Company Instead
In most cases, if the fire damage is severe and the soot spread is extensive, we recommend seeking our professional fire damage restoration team. We specialize in safe material preservation, and can even assist with turn-key repair and replacement services if areas of your home are beyond cleaning.
Before risking further damage to your home or health, contact our responsive team for soot removal in Philadelphia and benefit from dedicated guidance, faster service, and a beautiful restoration that looks like new.
We offer fire damage restoration services in Philadelphia and surrounding areas: