As a homeowner who loves scented candles, I often encounter unsightly soot stains on my walls. Soot often collects on ceilings, discolors newly painted walls, and settles on top of furniture.
Usually, the soot in my house comes from lit candles. However, other combustion sources, such as your fireplace, incense burners, and furnaces, may be responsible for the dark tinge that’s covering your interiors.
The best thing to do about these ghostly gray stains is to clean them immediately. This prevents soot from deeply penetrating surfaces and causing permanent damage to your health and home.
Fortunately, you can easily remove small soot stains in a few hours using a few basic cleaning tools and a special sponge. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to clean soot off walls in seven incredibly easy steps!
What Supplies Do You Need To Clean Soot off Walls?
Here are some of the cleaning tools and supplies you’ll need to effectively remove soot from your walls:
- Vacuum cleaner
- Drop sheets, old linen, or newspapers
- Soot sponge, chemical sponge, or dry cleaning sponge
- Utility knife
- Microfiber cloth
- Regular sponge
- Degreasing dish soap or trisodium phosphate (TSP)
To protect yourself from irritation and inhalation of soot particles, wear protective gear, such as:
- Safety glasses
- Dust masks or respirators
- Rubber gloves
- Coveralls or a long-sleeved shirt
How To Clean Soot off Walls
When it comes to soot stains at home or in the workplace, prompt cleanup is the key to avoiding permanent discoloration, furniture damage, and respiratory problems.
Here are seven simple, yet effective, steps to do it:
1. Gather Your Cleaning Materials
Having all your cleaning tools and solutions in one place will save you time and effort as you clean. Note that the materials you’ll need will depend on the soot removal method you’re using.
Dry cleaning methods often require a soot sponge. They work best on drywall, bricks, unfinished wood, and other porous surfaces that are prone to water damage. Meanwhile, wet methods using degreasers or TSP are suitable for glass, tile, and other waterproof surfaces.
2. Wear Protective Gear
Exposure to soot can irritate your skin, eyes, nose, and lungs. Remember to protect yourself with a mask, safety glasses, gloves, and other protective gear before tackling your soot-stained wall.
Additionally, use a reliable stool or a sturdy ladder to clean high areas. Work at a reasonable pace and exercise caution while cleaning to prevent accidents.
3. Prepare the Area
Prepare the affected area by removing any furniture, decorations, or floor coverings where the soot might settle. Next, cover the floor and other fixtures with drop sheets, old linen, or newspapers for protection.
It’s also important to ventilate your room by opening the windows and using fans for air circulation. Start the cleanup by vacuuming loose soot particles from top to bottom. Avoid smearing the soot by keeping the vacuum nozzle ½ inch away from the wall or surface.
4. Wipe the Wall
If you’re unsure whether to use the dry or wet cleaning method on your wall, it’s best to start with the dry method before adding a cleaning solution to remove any remaining stains.
Utilize a special soot sponge made of vulcanized rubber to wipe the wall in vertical strokes. Refrain from scrubbing the wall, as this only spreads the stain. Instead, lift the soot from the wall using overlapping strokes.
5. Check Your Sponge
While cleaning, you’ll notice your sponge turn black as it becomes saturated from the soot. When this happens, switch to a clean side. Another option would be to use a utility knife to slice off the dirty outer layers of the sponge.
Don’t rinse the sponge with water, as this weakens the sponge’s cleaning ability.
6. Remove Remaining Stains
If you decide to use a wet cleaning method to remove leftover soot stains, test your solution on a small spot first. This ensures that the paint, finish, or surface of your wall doesn’t get damaged by the chemical.
Dish soap is a convenient and safe way to clean soot stains. Just mix two tablespoons of your dish soap with a quart of water. Then, soak a regular sponge with the solution and use it to wipe away the residue.
Half a cup of powdered trisodium phosphate (TSP) combined with two quarts of water is another effective soot remover. However, TSP is a hazardous substance, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use gloves when working with this solution.
7. Rinse and Dry the Wall
The final step would be to rinse off the cleaning solution from your wall using fresh water and a damp cloth or sponge. Then, dry your ceiling and wall thoroughly using a microfiber cloth or rag. Allow the wall to air dry completely for 24 hours or longer if you plan on painting it.
You can now remove the floor covers and vacuum the area to get rid of any fallen soot. Finally, return your original furniture back in place, and you’re done!
Additional Soot Cleanup and Prevention Tips
Check out these handy and useful hacks for dealing with soot-stained walls:
- Regularly vacuum your walls to prevent the slow, but steady, buildup of soot.
- Inspect your ventilation system at least once a year to spot and eliminate soot deposits.
- After wiping the walls, position a fan in the room to speed up the drying process.
- Avoid using water-based cleaners on plaster walls as they might spread the stains.
- Thoroughly clean and dry your cloth, sponges, and tools before and after using them.
You can also use these tricks to prevent the accumulation of soot in your home:
- Trim your candle wicks to around a quarter of an inch to minimize the flame height.
- Position your candles away from walls, curtains, and cabinets.
- Avoid placing your candles in areas with drafts and disturbances, as flickering candles produce more soot.
- Use unscented candles or those made from soybean oil or beeswax because they burn cleaner than paraffin wax candles.
- Ensure that your fireplaces and other combustion sources are properly vented.
- Remove floating dirt and debris from wax pools, and utilize candles with only one wick.
- Refrain from putting your burning candles in jars or containers that restrict the flow of oxygen.
When To Call Professional Soot Removal Services
DIY cleanups are an easy and practical option for soot stains from candles, incense, and other minor combustion sources. However, extensive damage from house fires and fireplace issues can be overwhelming and even harmful to clean on your own.
For large areas that are heavily coated with soot, it’s best to seek assistance from fire damage restoration services and smoke remediation professionals. In addition to training and expertise, they use industrial vacuums, powerful filters, and effective cleaners to get the job done right.
Soot is a dark and powdery substance that results from burning organic matter. Over time, soot that has settled on furniture and surfaces becomes harder to remove.
Soot stains aren’t just unsightly—they can be harmful to your health as well. That’s why prompt removal of soot is a must in all homes. After reading this guide, you’re now familiar with the quick and easy ways how to clean soot off walls.
Remember, you don’t have to handle extensive soot stains on your own! Professional soot removal services have the necessary expertise and equipment to restore your walls and ceilings to their original pristine condition. Good luck, and happy cleaning!