How to Remove Smoke and Soot Stains

From time to time we all find soot or smoke damage on your prized surfaces. Most smoke damage is easily removed with a bit of soap and water… right? No not always, and especially on a grand scale. What’s the story then, how do you clean smoke damage easily, quickly and without breaking your back? Use the right tools and the right process.
Questions are: Can you use a wet process? Is the surface affected by heat? Is the surface porous? Do you want to get rid of odour as well?
I wrote a quick solution for all of the above below.
Surfaces that can be Wetted: Mix a solution of degreaser with hot water. Liberally apply the solution to the surface(Remember to wear gloves and glasses. Remember that foam always works best on vertical surfaces. Allow 2-5 minutes dwell time. Scrub the surface and rinse. Repeat if required. Dilution depends upon your first results. Start at medium strength dilution and increase from there. Remember that the residue from this cleaning process can stain the surfaces surrounding the area you are cleaning. Rinsing is essential.
Porous Surfaces: The first step in cleaning a porous surface like drywall is dry cleaning. Remove as much as you can with a dry terry towel. This helps to save time on the next step, using a soot sponge like a pencil eraser to rub the surface in a cross-hatching motion to remove as much as you possibly can (which is usually 99%). After this step you can damp clean the surface with a mild solution of degreaser.
The key in soot and fire damage is knowing your surface. Ask us how to clean the surface before you start. There is no doubt that soot removal is far easier outside as flushing is more easily achieved and with less hands-on contact. Depending upon the type of fire damage or soot you may need to alter your chemistry. My first go to for soot removal is Citrus Clean, a d’limonene based general purpose cleaner. Sometimes a totally different chemistry is the solution. For example, on concrete you may need to go a completely different way with pH. This is where professionals can be very helpful. This advice is free in person and more importantly we want you to take the time to ask us. Safety is key in project cleaning. Take your time and remember: You only have one set of eyes; one set of lungs and one body -so protect it. There is so much more to it that just what I can put in four paragraphs.

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