Fires have a host of devastating effects on the homes they hit. One of the most damaging after-effects of fires is soot damage. Soot is made up of impure carbon particles from incomplete burning. Inhaling soot can have devastating health consequences. It is also challenging to remove from the materials it penetrates. In fact, removing soot from materials like wood, carpet, and curtains is sometimes the most challenging aspect of the fire damage restoration process.
One of the most common ways to clean up a sooty mess is with an acid or alkaline cleaner. This type of cleaner can be found at any hardware store and should be applied liberally to the affected area. After you have scrubbed the surface, rinse it off with water and allow it to dry. If there are still stains visible after drying, repeat this process until all traces of soot are gone. You may need to use a pressure washer if your concrete has been stained from oil or other chemicals that could not be removed by cleaning alone. In addition, make sure you wear gloves while applying any type of chemical because most cleaners will irritate the skin if they come in contact with it for too long.
The prospect of dealing with soot stains on your carpet can seem daunting. It may even seem easier just to replace the carpet and start anew. However, hope is not lost, and there is still a chance you can save your carpet. Start with the visible chunks of soot up top, lifting them up gently to avoid smashing the soot further down into the carpet. Next, use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the remaining loose soot. Then, moisten a damp cloth with a dry cleaning fluid gently blotting the stained areas. Continue this process until the carpet is clear of soot.
An oven cleaner or Windex with ammonia and water typically works well for removing soot stains from wood. Apply the cleaning solution liberally and then wipe with a damp cloth. This will clean up the soot stain in most cases. Also, as an important note, you should NOT use vinegar for dealing with soot stains in wood. While vinegar is a commonly used cleaning solution it can leave stains and permanently damaged wood surfaces.
Dealing with soot damage is no easy walk in the park. Depending on the damaged materials, you will need to adapt your approach from different angles. Fortunately, you don’t need to tackle this mess on your own. Our fire damage restoration professionals at Sierra Restoration are experienced in dealing with all the different types of soot damage. Give us a call if your home is damaged by fire, leftover smoke, or soot so we can help you repair the damage and get back on your feet.