How to clean soot off a ceiling

Updated February 21, 2017

Soot removal from ceilings gives a clean, fresh look to fire-damaged areas. Whether from a small house fire or continuous burning of candles, soot may collect on a ceiling. Depending on the extent of the damage, the removal of the dark spots may be a do-it-yourself project. For extensive fire damage, consult with a professional before attempting to remove the stains.

Vacuum the excessive soot from the ceiling. Standing steady on a ladder, use a vacuum designed for wet/dry situations and remove as much loose soot from the ceiling as possible.

Wipe the area with a dry sponge. This will remove more of the soot from the area.

Clean the area with a mixture of trisodium phosphate and water. Mix a small amount of the powder cleaner with water to make a paste consistency. Apply with a sponge and clean in a circular motion. Rinse with a clean sponge and water.


Trisodium phosphate is available at paint and home improvement stores. Consult with a professional on proper mixing.


Trisodium phosphate emits noxious fumes. Wear gloves, goggles and a respiratory mask when using.

Things You'll Need

  • Stepladder
  • Industrial vacuum
  • Sponges
  • Trisodium phosphate
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About the Author

Sidney Johns began her writing career in 1993 after moving to Florida. The former teacher and surgical technician worked in the home improvement industry prior to earning a Bachelor of Science in education from Indiana University. While on hiatus in 2004, Johns studied holistic healing and organic growth and gardening.