How to Clean Soot Stains from Walls
The next step is to inspect the walls for any soot particles. This is different from cleaning the walls of smoke damage, which will happen later. First, all of the larger pieces of soot, both on the floor and on the walls, must be carefully vacuumed before you can move on to the important next step.
Otherwise, in trying to clean smoke damage, you could inadvertently make it worse by spreading unvacuumed soot into your walls. If this happens, make sure you call a restoration company with a professional soot removal team.
Cleaning Smoke Damage Once Soot Is Removed
The cleaning process for soot stains and smoke damage takes place in three phases.
First, you will be removing the bulk of the smoke with a dry-cleaning or soot cleaning sponge. These are meant specifically for smoke restoration projects.
Have several on hand, and use it gently on a dry surface. You don’t want to use any water or cleaners at this point, simply take the sponge and softly rub it at affected areas, careful to not use the same part of the sponge for more than a few strokes.
Use the sponge until it has no areas that aren’t blackened—at that point, cut off the surface area with a knife and start again, or just use a new sponge, until you’ve covered the whole area.
After that, you’ll want to go in with your cleaning solution in warm water, using rags. A commercial soot cleaner would be great here, paint thinner or even vinegar in warm water can also do the job.
Once you’ve cleaned the area you’ll have one final step, using your second bucket filled with warm water. This time around, you’ll be using a degreaser or mild dish soap with hot water, so you can finally scrub off the more oil-soluble smoke and soot particles.
Once you’ve thoroughly cleaned the area with all three of these products, you should rinse the walls down with hot water, to fully clear the area of the cleaning products you’ve used.
How to Clean Smoke off Walls and Windows
When cleaning smoke off walls, you must make sure to follow the three steps laid out in the previous section. Start with blotting every area and getting rid of as much smoke as possible with the dry-cleaning sponge.
For the windows, it’s significantly less complicated. First, clean the windows with the cloths and soot cleaner, then use the degreaser to remove anything that’s left.
As you clean your smoke damaged walls, it’s important to focus on small areas at a time, going from the floor up towards the ceiling, to avoid streaks and stains. As always, make sure to rinse the area thoroughly once you’ve finished.
If you have wallpaper, you’ll want to dry the walls as soon as you’re finished, to avoid water soaking through and damaging them. With painted walls, it may not be a bad idea to repaint after removing the soot damage.
How to Clean Smoke Damaged Ceilings
Finally, you’ll want to clean any smoke damaged ceilings. Again, you’re following the same steps as the previous sections. Expect the ceiling to be harder to clean.
You’ll want to bring in a ladder, so you can access these hard to reach damaged areas. Once you’ve taken care of that, you’ll want to work in small, manageable sections, with all three of your cleaners.
Removing the Smoke Odor
Even once you remove the smoke and soot damage, you may still need to remove the smell of smoke. If the damage was minor, a bowl of white vinegar or baking soda will absorb the odor. For more prevalent odors, you may need an ozone treatment.
If the Damage Is Too Severe, Call a Professional
Once you’ve followed these steps, hopefully your home has begun to look like it did before the fire. Unfortunately, most smoke damage cases are too severe for these methods alone to be enough.
If smoke damage and soot still persists, or if you have other damage to your home from a fire, call a professional fire restorer, such as Jenkins Restorations, to make your home feel like new once again. Our team includes soot removal services, water removal after the fire is put out, and deodorizing in our fire damage restoration process.