Smoke soot stain removal

Updated April 17, 2017

Smoke soot stains caused by fireplaces and candles can be challenging to remove. When carbon adheres to a surface such as walls and ceilings, smoke soot stains are formed. Removing smoke soot stains is a delicate procedure that requires careful and gentle execution.


Materials needed to properly remove smoke soot stains should be gathered prior to the job. A large cloth to protect the surrounding area is necessary, since collected soot may spread and contaminate more areas. You also will need a vacuum with attachments. The cloth and vacuum will help protect the environment by ensuring that loose soot is cleaned up before spreading.

Lastly, you will need a dry sponge, which will be used on fragile surfaces such as wallpaper or painted walls. Different than a regular sponge, a dry sponge is made from rubber and is designed to lift soot without the use of water.


Using the brush attachment, vacuum the area where the smoke soot is present. Any loose soot laying on the surface will be picked up. Vacuuming will also help release looser elements of soot from the surface.

Once the surface has been thoroughly vacuumed, use the dry sponge to remove the rest of the smoke soot stain. Soft but firm movements will slowly release smoke soot from the surface and collect inside the dry sponge.

If the dry sponge technique fails to remove the smoke soot stain, apply a mild household cleaner. An appropriate method includes alternating between wet and dry cloths, making certain to pause between and examine the surface for signs of damage.

Common Mistakes

Many people wet the smoke soot stain without attempting the dry sponge method. Adding moisture to the surface often makes the stain more difficult to remove and will cause it to look worse. Apply wet cleaner only if the dry sponge does not remove the smoke soot stain.

Water-based cleaners should never be used on a smoke soot stain that is embedded in carpet. The best way to extract soot from carpet is to use a dry vacuum method. Salt or baking soda are superb choices. Spread them into the soot before vacuuming.

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About the Author

Rebecca DeLuccia-Reinstein has been a freelance writer since 2004. She is a native New Yorker based in Pennsylvania. Her writing includes books, manuals, training guides and articles published as a ghostwriter and she has covered topics such as education, sales, art and psychology. She received a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the State University of New York at Albany.