How to Remove Soot: What is Soot?

Soot is made up of tiny particles of carbon due to incomplete combustion of fossil fuels (such as wood, oil, coal, etc.). Soot contains acids, chemicals, metals, and dust that leaves an ugly black residue and an unpleasant smell. It is important to know how to remove soot, to prevent further damage to items within your home.

During a fire, soot spreads to the whole house, attaching itself to surfaces. Fire soot damage can further affect the property as well as the indoor air quality if the soot is not removed immediately.

Soot can also linger in the home even if a fire never occurred. For example, excessive use of candles can lead to soot buildup over time. It’s probably a good idea for property owners to use them sparingly (as they are also a fire risk). Fireplaces can release soot too if they’re not properly ventilated. Furnaces are also a source of soot contamination when they produce a puff back.

To help you find answers to your specific questions, we’ve put together an interactive table of contents. Click each link to be transported to different sections.

How to Clean Soot

The most common way to remove fire soot damage is to clean soot stains thoroughly with a gentle solution.  To remove stains from walls, furniture, and floors, use a mild soap or detergent. Another easy solution is to mix 4 to 6 tablespoons of tri-sodium phosphate with 1 cup of a household cleaner or chlorine bleach to every gallon of warm water. Wear rubber gloves while cleaning and carefully rinse surfaces with clear warm water then dry.

However, there may be many different surfaces affected by soot that require special cleaning methods. Below is a list of common areas of your home that can be vulnerable to fire and soot damage and tips on how to carefully remove soot stains in those specific areas.

How to Remove Soot from Brick

soot on brick

For anyone who has ever had a house fire, you know how devastating the soot and smoke damage can be. Fortunately, there are some ways to clean soot off brick so that it will not cause further damage. The following guide is going to show you how to get rid of the soot on your bricks without damaging them any more than they already are.

Start by using water and white vinegar which should loosen up the soot residue left behind from the fire. Next, we’ll take an old toothbrush dipped in baking soda and scrub the bricks along all of those tough spots that just refuse to come clean with anything else. Lastly, use a bucket filled with warm water mixed with a small amount of bleach (for sanitizing purposes) and then rinse everything off gently.

Try this method to remove any soot from the brick and repeat if necessary.

How to Clean Soot off Walls

Removing soot from walls is a dirty job, but it’s one you’ll have to do if your house has been damaged by fire. Use these tips and tricks for how to clean soot and smoke odors off walls after a fire:

  • Scrape as much of the soot off the wall with a putty knife before washing or painting over it.
  • Fill buckets with water and liquid soap, grab rags or sponges, and wash the surface area with warm water.
  • Rinse your sponge in clear water between each swipe across the wall to make sure you’re getting all that dirt out!
  • Let dry thoroughly before applying paint or wallpaper (if desired).

How to Get Soot Out of Clothes

Soot stains are hard enough to get out on their own without having to worry about blending them with other stains as well. Thankfully, there are ways you can clean your clothes and save yourself some time, money, and frustration!

The best way to start is by soaking the soot-stained garment in cold water for at least 15 minutes before washing it normally. This will help remove any hardened or burnt-on layers of soot that may have accumulated over time due to repeated washings (especially if you don’t use a dryer).

Another way to get soot out of clothes is to carefully use chemicals to clean your clothes by following the steps below:

  • Fill up your tub with warm-hot water and mix a cleaning solution of 1 cup of baking soda or ¼ cup borax powder (available at most grocery stores).
  • Soak your soiled clothes in this solution overnight. The baking soda will help break down any leftover smoke particles.
  • Wash and dry as instructed on your machines and your clothes should be intact.

How To Remove Soot from Carpet

A soot stain on your carpet can be a tricky thing, but with the right products and some know-how it isn’t that hard to get rid of. These short steps will have your carpet free of soot:

  • When removing soot stains from carpet, it is important that you remove the chunks of visible soot resting on top first. Then gently lift any large lumps with a utensil to avoid smashing them down into the fibers and creating more staining. If there are areas where this might be too risky for your liking, try not to worry about it- just move onto the next step.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to remove the powder. If you need to clean along baseboards, use an attachment that will allow you better access.
  • Next, moisten a damp cloth with dry cleaning fluid and blot the stained areas. Let the chemicals sit for a few minutes and then use a damp clean cloth to blot the area. Be careful not to use too much moister, because this can lead to the growth of mold.
  • Lastly, continue the above process until the soot stains are removed from the carpet and then let it dry out.

How to Remove Soot

How to Remove Soot from Metal

It is a common problem for those who have experienced house fires and are left with black stains on their metals. This post may also be helpful if you live in an area where it gets really hot or has been experiencing wildfires that leave behind these unsightly stains.

To get started removing soot from metal, take your metal object outside, and use the hose to spray it down until all of the soot residue comes off. If there are still stubborn marks left over, try using some Brillo pads or Bar Keepers Friend which can scrub off any remaining marks from your metal items. When finished, rinse with water again and dry completely before bringing back inside (to prevent rusting).

How to Clean Soot off Painted Metal

The best way to clean soot off painted metal is to first mix several drops of dishwashing liquid with hot water. Next, dip a scrubbing sponge into the water and move it over the soot deposits to break off the soot from the metallic surface.

After that is completed, mix together white vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle, and spray it on the fire soot to knock out any remaining soot deposits. The acidic ingredient will help break it up and clean the painted metal. Then, run a nylon scrub brush against any soot still remaining to get rid of it. Lastly, use a damp rag to remove any soap or vinegar that remains and then dry the painted metal with a rag.

How to Remove Soot from Aluminum

The best way to remove soot from aluminum is to first sweep and loose soot off your siding with a dry boom. After that, wipe the area down using a dry cleaning soot sponge. Finally, follow that with an application of commercial soot remover and rinse.

How to Remove Soot from Stainless Steel

To eliminated heat discoloration on stainless steel, dip a soft cloth in vinegar and scrub the surface of the stainless steel. As you do this, the heating tapes will begin to transfer to the fabric. Scrub the surface until there are no more streaks to be seen.

How to Clean Soot from Wood

A fire in your home can be one of the most devastating experiences you will ever endure. The soot that is left behind from fire damage can irritate and damage your lungs, but there are ways to remove it from wood without having to replace a lot of things in your house.

Try using an oven cleaner or Windex with Ammonia mixed with water. Apply the mixture liberally to all surfaces before wiping clean with a damp cloth. This method should remove any lingering soot and leave your floors looking brand new!

Note: avoid using vinegar, as this can leave stains and damage your wood surfaces.

How to Remove Soot from Concrete

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 skin if they come in contact with it for too long.

How to Remove Soot from Carpet

The idea of having to clean up soot from your carpet can be daunting. But, removing it doesn’t have to be difficult! The first thing you should do is vacuum the soot out of the rug with a low setting and then use a wet/dry vacuum to suck it right back up. You may also want to add something like baking soda or cornstarch into this mixture in order to help absorb some of the grease and oil that can leave stains on your flooring.

If these methods don’t work for you, try using dry cleaning products such as benzyl acetate (found in hairspray) or xylene (a solvent). Apply one at a time and see which one works better for you!

How to Remove Soot Stains from Stone Fireplace

A soot stained fireplace can ruin a focal point in a room and take away from the beauty of the stone. To clean up the soot, start by vacuuming the area using a small nozzle. You can also brush the area to remove the fire soot. Then, use a product such as Soot Eraser to wipe on the stone.

How to Remove Soot from Engine Oil

Excess soot levels in the oil can quickly overwhelm dispersant additives and form what is commonly known as sludge. If you want to remove soot from your engine oil, you should use a filter that has been designed for this purpose. The best way to do this is to use a paper filter, which is inexpensive and easy to replace.

How to get Soot out of Curtains

You can use essentially the same process to remove soot from fabrics like curtains and bedding. First, shake them out and then clean them with baking soda and a strain remover. Rinse the fabric and then give it another soak in baking soda and vinegar to pull out the soot.

Fire Soot Removal Services

If you’ve suffered from fire soot damage or stains, contact Jenkins Restorations. We have years of experience in the industry and our goal is to provide you with the best service possible. As a result, we want to create a safe environment for your home where it can be rebuilt back into its original state without any worries about safety hazards that could be present before restoration services are completed.

Contact us today and we’ll give you all the information needed on why Jenkins Restorations should be your first call when disaster strikes!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much soot is dangerous?

There is no “safe” level of soot exposure, as even small amounts can be harmful to your health. Inhaling soot can cause a number of respiratory problems, including bronchitis, breathing issues, and asthma. Soot effects infants and elderly who already have breathing problems the most, and can enter your body through inhalation, ingestion, through your skin, and eyes.

Is it dangerous to breathe in soot?

Yes, it can be dangerous to breathe in soot. Soot is made up of a number of harmful chemicals and particulates that can damage your lungs and respiratory system.

Have You Recently Dealt With Soot After a Fire?

After a fire, make sure to call Jenkins Restorations to get your home free of soot and get your life back to normal.