We understand that fire accidents can be devastating and leave your property in a chaotic way. One of the biggest challenges after a fire incident is dealing with the soot residue that settles on your walls. Soot is a stubborn substance that requires professional attention both in house cleaning & commercial cleaning jobs to ensure a thorough and safe cleaning process.
We will provide practical steps to remove soot from walls after a fire incident. We will cover the materials needed, safety precautions, and detailed instructions on how to clean a soot stained wall.
Materials needed for the soot removal process:
Safety Precautions Including Protective Cleaning
Before you begin cleaning, ensure you take safety precautions to protect yourself from soot exposure. Wear protective clothing such as gloves, safety glasses or goggles, masks, and an apron to prevent skin irritation, eye damage, and inhalation of harmful particles.
For a comprehensive guide on how to clean soot off walls and dealing with soot damage, please follow this guide.
If you are dealing with smoke particles, it would be best if you open windows and doors to improve the level air circulation in the room. This reduces the concentration of soot particles in the air and makes breathing easier. An efficient ventilation system will provide fresh air, but be proactive here.
Related post: How to clean brick with vinegar.
With two methods to choose from, what is the best cleaning solution to remove soot from walls?
This method uses a dry soot sponge or chemical sponge to remove soot particles from the wall's surface. Dry cleaning is effective for removing light to moderate soot build-up, and it is beneficial for cleaning delicate surfaces that moisture damages.
Use a soft-bristled brush or vacuum cleaner to remove dry soot from the walls. Be gentle to avoid smearing the soot on the wall surface. You can also use a dry-cleaning or chemical sponge to remove the dry soot residue.
This method uses water-based cleaning solutions to remove soot particles from the wall. Wet methods are more effective for removing heavy soot build-up and are suitable for non-delicate surfaces that can withstand moisture.
Mix Trisodium Phosphate cleaner with water in a bucket as per the instructions on the package. Put on rubber gloves and apply the solution to the walls with a sponge. As you’d expect, starting the cleaning process at the wall's highest point makes the most sense, and then you make your way to the bottom. with the same wiping motion.
Allow the solution to sit on the wall for a few minutes before wiping it off with a clean towel.
It is important to note that wet cleaning can be more time-consuming than dry methods, requiring more preparation time, such as protecting flooring and furniture from water damage.
Additionally, certain types of walls may not be suitable for wet cleaning, such as walls with wallpaper or walls that need to be painted with a washable finish.
Choosing the correct method for removing soot stains from the entire surface is crucial to ensuring the job is done effectively and without causing additional damage. The severity of the soot build-up is a critical consideration, as heavier build-up will require more aggressive cleaning techniques.
It is possible to evaluate the severity of soot build-up on a wall in several ways. By examining the wall, a trained professional can assess the thickness and colour of the soot build-up, indicating the severity.
Another method is to use a specialised tool such as a soot sponge or adhesive tape, which can collect excess soot particulates and estimate the amount of soot present. Additionally, a professional cleaning service may use testing equipment such as a particle counter, which can provide a more precise measurement of the amount of soot present in the air or on surfaces.
Ultimately, the severity of soot build-up will depend on several factors, including the source, the time that has elapsed since the fire or other incidents, and the effectiveness of any previous cleaning efforts. A professional cleaning service with experience in fire damage clean-up can help evaluate the severity of soot build-up and determine the best approach for removing it.
Additionally, the type of surface to clean is essential, as some materials may be more sensitive to specific cleaning agents or methods than others.
When cleaning soot from walls, the surface type is a crucial consideration. Different materials can have different sensitivity levels to cleaning agents and techniques, so choosing an appropriate approach that won't cause damage or discolouration is essential.
Here are some common wall surfaces and the preferred soot removal processes for each:
With painted walls, the type of paint will determine the appropriate cleaning method. Water-based paint can be cleaned with a mild detergent, while oil-based paint may require a more potent cleaning agent such as trisodium phosphate (TSP).
Soot can be particularly challenging to remove from wallpaper without causing damage. You should avoid using water or liquid cleaning agents on the wallpaper, as these can cause the paper to bubble or peel. Instead, a dry-cleaning sponge or vacuum with a soft brush attachment can be used to remove soot gently from the surface of the wallpaper.
When cleaning soot from drywall, it's important to avoid using water or liquid cleaning agents, as these can cause the drywall to become saturated and damaged. You can follow a similar approach to cleaning drywall for cleaning wallpaper.
Plaster walls can be susceptible to cleaning agents, so it's crucial to choose a gentle approach. A mixture of warm water and mild detergent can effectively remove soot from plaster walls. It's important to avoid using abrasive scrubbing pads or harsh chemicals that could scratch or damage the surface.
For soot on brick walls, a high-pressure water spray or steam cleaning can effectively remove the build-up. It's crucial to be cautious when using a pressure washer, as too much force could cause damage to the brick or mortar. Test the pressure washer on a small wall area first and keep the pressure at a lower setting to avoid causing damage.
Related post: How to clean fireplace brick.
In all cases, it's vital to approach soot removal cautiously and seek expert advice when necessary. A professional cleaning service with experience in fire and smoke damage clean-up can be a valuable resource for identifying the best cleaning approach for a particular situation.
Finally, it is essential to evaluate the potential risks associated with each method, such as damaging the wall or causing harm to those performing the cleaning.
Use dry cleaning sponges, a wet sponge or damp cloth, to rinse the walls thoroughly. This will help remove any remaining soot residue and TSP cleaner.
When preparing a bleach solution to remove soot from a wall, it is essential to mix it correctly to ensure effectiveness and safety. To mix bleach and water in a bucket, follow these steps:
It is important to note that bleach can be dangerous if not used properly. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and take necessary safety precautions while mixing and using bleach. Put on rubber gloves and apply the solution to the walls with a sponge. Allow the solution to sit on the wall briefly before rinsing it with clean water.
Use a clean towel or fan to dry the walls thoroughly. Ensure no moisture is left, as it can promote the growth of mould and mildew.
Of course, the final part of the soot removal and cleaning solution is to capture loose soot particles. This isn't necessarily part of the soot removal process for walls, but it is always worth remembering you need to clean up at the end. Also, to enjoy fresh air, ventilate the room, add an air purifier and use a vacuum brush with a HEPA filter.
Removing stubborn stains, soot from walls and cleaning soot damage after a fire incident can be challenging, but it is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the occupants. You can safely and effectively remove soot from walls by following the above steps.