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 residue and 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 one 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 to wipe the wall. A commercial soot cleaner would be great here, but 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.
How Do I Clean Smoke Damaged Items?
Sometimes, fires can be smaller in scale causing only partial structural damage to your home and its contents. Yet there may still be significant smoke/soot damage on any personal possessions inside. When it comes to cleaning smoke damaged items, be sure to follow these steps listed below:
The safety of everyone involved in a fire damage cleaning situation is crucial. Specialists in fire damage restoration can take necessary precautions to ensure the safety of all workers and anybody entering a structure after a fire. Prior to the evaluation and restoration, it is critical that the structure is safe.
When evaluating your personal items, it’s important to inspect what is and is not salvageable. The items that are no longer of use can be safely discarded. Items that are significantly damaged, melted, broken or exposed to the elements, should be thrown away safely. On the other hand, items that are still intact (such as clothing, bedding and linens) can be sorted and taken to a laundromat. Furniture and other usable items can be cleaned by a fire damage restoration team.
With your salvaged items, you may want to take into account all the items you saved, and where they will be stored and where they will be sent to get cleaned. You can also create an inventory of the essential items that you had to discard, as it is imperative to receive adequate compensation once you’ve begun filing an insurance claim.
For the items you can still use, you must begin by carefully cleaning smoke damage from your personal items. Trisodium Phosphate (or TSP) is an effective, heavy-duty cleanser for problem areas around the house that may be sooty, greasy, or dirty. For every tablespoon of TSP use a gallon of warm water.
Use rubber gloves, goggles and rags to safely get the job done. With walls and ceilings, be sure to avoid oversaturation and give surfaces plenty of time to dry before you continue to clean.
Smoke from fire damaged items can leave a lingering smell that can be unpleasant. In order to remove any smoky scents from your salvages items, here are a few ideas that can help:
- White Vinegar – White vinegar is a great natural cleaner and can be used to wipe and clean most surfaces.
- Baking Soda– Baking soda absorbs odors naturally. You can leave an open box of it in the affected rooms or you can sprinkle some onto your damaged items in order to reduce or remove the odor.
- Activated Charcoal – Similar to baking soda, charcoal is another natural odor absorber that can be left around the room in powdered form to deal with smoke odor.
- Other Odor Reducing Products – An odor-reducing product such as Febreze, oil diffusers or incense can be used along with the other steps to reduce the odor.
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.