Cleaning up after a fire can be a messy, tricky task. Many homeowners commonly make the mistake of attempting to clean up the sooty stains left behind by a fire with regular detergents or surface cleaners, succeeding only in making the mess worse. In this situation, the best way to clean up is to dry clean stained surfaces with a soot sponge, before attempting to wash them.
What is a Soot Sponge?
Also known as chemical sponges despite the fact that they contain no chemicals at all, soot sponges are large, thick, porous sponges made of rubber. They are mostly used in fire restoration work for the removal of soot and smoke residue on hard surfaces. Soot sponges are always used dry, as using water or detergents to remove these types of stains often results in smearing or smudging, spreading the stain around and sometimes making it worse.
How to Use Soot Sponges
Soot sponges can be used on any hard, matt surface; including painted or wallpapered walls or ceilings. Before using a soot sponge, the area to be cleaned is usually dusted or vacuumed to remove loose particles. The sponge is then used to remove the stain using a light, even, sweeping motion in one direction, and working down from the top of the surface. The sponge works like a large eraser, drawing dust and dirt into the porous cells on its surface.
Re-using Soot Sponges
A 3- by 6- by 1.5-inch sponge should clean a 12- by 20-foot surface area. Once the surface of the sponge has become saturated with soot or debris, it can be shaved off to expose a new, clean sponge surface. If you want to be more economical with your soot sponges, they can also be washed, however they must be left to air dry completely, preferably in a mesh bag, before they can be used again.
In addition to being used for stain removal, soot sponges are also excellent for removing pet hair from soft surfaces like clothing and upholstery. They can also be used to brush suede clean and to remove dust and dirt from surfaces or items that cannot be cleaned with water or solvents. However, despite their versatility, soot sponges are not recommended for use on residues from protein or oil fires -- as they will simply smear the residue -- instead of picking it up.