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Soot Cleanup From Fire Damage

Soot damage cleanup, how to clean up soot after fire damage.

How To Clean Up Soot After Fire Damage

For steps to mitigate fire damage restoration and for the most common steps taken to mitigate fire damage, we’ll discuss soot cleanup as a primary result of fire damages that should be professionally remedied by trained experts using the right equipment.

Soot cleanup can be dangerous if not done correctly!

Our team at Service Master of Boulder and Service Master of Westminster understand the science behind soot cleaning to efficiently restore your property from the damage caused by a fire.


We utilize the appropriate cleaning solvents, equipment and techniques that come from proper training and certification, as well as years of experience.

Soot Cleanup from Fire Damage

Soot Cleaning After a Fire

After a fire, you notice dreadful black or brown deposits—called soot—on your walls, carpet, furniture and most everything else. You might feel tempted to clean up these oily-tarry particles hastily, using conventional cleaning treatments. However, soot cleaning is not as simple as washing away common dirt and grime.

In fact, improper soot removal methods can further the damage already done to your home or business. Service Master of Boulder County and Service Master of Westminster discuss the complexities and challenges of soot removal that you should consider before fire damage restoration.

Soot Consists of Potentially Harmful Chemical Compounds

Soot from a fire consists of layers of tiny particles that contain a complex mixture of carbon and other chemical compounds. These particles arise from the burning and subsequent incomplete combustion of materials such as wood, plastics and textiles, and even materials containing lead paint and asbestos. In other words, these are potentially hazardous deposits, representing what was burned and the hundreds of other chemicals that adhere to it.

As such, precautionary measures should be taken during soot cleaning. Personal protective equipment such as splash goggles, gloves and respirators may be necessary to safeguard against eye, skin and respiratory irritation, as well as other harmful health effects.

Soot Travels to Areas Well Beyond the Fire Source

The airborne particles travel with smoke throughout the house or building structure. Because smoke is drawn to cooler surfaces, eventually soot particles settle on both vertical and horizontal surfaces beyond the fire source. In addition, soot works its way into hard to access areas such as the HVAC system, attic and inner walls.

Porous contents such as carpet, upholstered furniture and window coverings absorb soot, which can cause deep and permanent staining if not removed properly. Since soot becomes acidic when combined with moisture it can discolor, etch, pit and even corrode non porous surfaces, if not removed completely and promptly. All of these factors add to the complexity and challenge of soot cleaning.

The Type of Smoke Damage Impacts Soot Cleaning

Another variable to consider that impacts soot removal is the type of smoke damage that occurred. Smoke damage is classed into different categories, such as dry, wet and protein based. Dry smoke results from a high temperature, fast burning fire and leaves more of a black powdery residue.

In contrast, a low heat, slow burning fire produces wet smoke and a sticky, smeary residue. If this soot dries quickly, it can turn into a lacquer-like film, making soot cleaning even more difficult.

Soot Removal Protocols

Types of soot differ from fire to fire and as such, soot cleaning methods also vary. Our certified technicians will determine the types of soot deposited after a fire.

In general, we follow a soot removal process that begins with dry soot cleaning using specialized HEPA vacuums and dry surface cleaning techniques. We then progress with wet-cleaning techniques as necessary. After the building structure and contents are thoroughly cleaned and sanitized, we follow up by neutralizing tough odors.