Cleaning Up The Soot After A Fire

Published: 15th April 2009
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As if the fire alone wasn't bad enough, you now have to deal with the effects of it. In addition to contacting your insurance company and a fire damage restoration company, you now have to clean up the mess the fire has left behind. It is best and more convenient to have a restoration company restore your home thoroughly, but if you didn't have insurance or feel it would be better to clean it yourself, then here are some ways you can clean up the soot damage.

Soot is the ash-like, oily residue that is left behind after a fire, and it can be difficult to clean if you do not know what you are doing. Do not at any time rub soot into the material, especially when it is on cloth or some other textile. It might cause a stain that will be even harder to clean or will become permanent. All food that was left exposed during the fire should most definitely be thrown out. Before you start, make sure you wear clothes that can be thrown away or clothes that you don't care to get dirty, gloves, and a face mask.

A vacuum will usually do the trick and remove the soot from your belongings. Make sure you do not use any of your vacuum's brush attachments or other quirky accessories that might only embed the soot into the fibers more. The simple nozzle attachment will do the trick and should be held about 1/4" from the surface to ensure that the nozzle doesn't end up rubbing the soot into the material as well.

Clothes should be taken to a dry cleaning place that specializes in soot and fire restoration if they are loaded with soot. Otherwise, you can vacuum the soot off and then hand or machine wash the clothes until both the residue and the smoke odor are gone. Depending on how strong the odor is, you might need to wash the clothes more than once or even a few times.

Soot that is on your walls, plaster, wallpaper, or any exposed wood can be cleaned with a dry chemical sponge. Using this sponge will prevent the soot from permeating the surface and being transferred deep into the material. You will need a soot removal spray to clean the walls thoroughly. If re-painting the wall is necessary, then using a product like Winsol Cleansall will help prepare the wall for repainting. Other materials, such as glass, marble countertops, tile, steel, and vinyl are the easiest to clean because of their smooth, non-porous surfaces. Wiping these down with cloth towels or a sponge should be adequate in getting all of the soot out.
Adyan Corkern is a writer for
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