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How to remove soot from fabric

If you suffer a fire in your home, your prime concern will be the safety of anyone in it. Once you know your family, friends and pets are safe, the next priority will be to ensure that the building is safe. When this has been confirmed, the restoration work can begin.

It can be heart-breaking to return to your home and find the damage that a house fire has left behind. Once the tears have been dried, your attention will begin to focus on how to restore your belongings and regain the home you love. In this article, we’ll look at one of the key steps in the restoration process: how to remove soot from fabric. (See also our article “What is the best soot cleaner to use after a house fire?”)

Why it is important to remove soot from fabrics

The horrible, acrid smoke smell that lingers after a fire is mostly caused by soot. If you don’t remove the soot, you won’t get rid of the smoke smell from your home. Soot is also corrosive. It can eat into your furniture, and destroy it outside in.

So, you need to remove soot from fabrics as soon as possible after a house fire. However, it cannot simply be wiped away. Firstly, soot is abrasive. If you don’t clean carefully, you could do more harm than good. Secondly, soot contains damaging oils that can permanently stain fabric. For all these reasons, it is best to work with a professional fire restoration service to restore fabrics after a fire. They know how to remove soot from fabric, and have the experience and specialized equipment needed. If you decide to do the restoration work yourself, here are a few tips to help.

Remove the loose soot with a vacuum

Use a vacuum to remove as much of the soot as possible. However, it is not like vacuuming a carpet. Don’t apply pressure, and don’t touch the fabric with a nozzle or vacuum attachment. In fact, it is better not to use an attachment. Hover the vacuum nozzle just above the fabric to be cleaned, and suck up the loose soot particles. Whatever you do, never brush soot away – this will only cause the soot particles to grind into the fabric and release those oils that stain.

Cover carpets after cleaning away the soot

Start high and work your way down to the floors with your vacuum. Tackle drapes, soft furnishings and carpets. As you work through all your fabric items, cover them with plastic to prevent dislodged soot from finding its way to where you have already cleaned. When you have cleaned your carpets, cover with plastic to prevent any dirt being ground into the carpet by workmen or other visitors.

Have your carpets cleaned professionally

Once the soot has been removed from your carpets, have them cleaned professionally. Carpets are notorious for retaining smoke smell, and it’s not like you can lift them and put them in a washing machine.

Keep your home ventilated while cleaning

Soot is damaging to health as well as household items. You should wear a mask and goggles when tackling soot removal, and overalls to protect your clothing, and keep your home well ventilated during the clean-up process.

Once you have removed all the soot from your household fabrics, you can begin to remove the smoke odor from your home. Whatever you do, do not begin deep cleaning until all soot is removed.

Our number one tip to remove soot from fabrics

The above tips will help you to remove soot from fabrics, and allow you to move on to the next stages of fire restoration: removing the smoke smell and deep cleaning. However, to remove soot from fabrics most effectively, you should use specialized chemicals and equipment. These are expensive to hire, and if not used correctly there is no guarantee that your DIY restoration will be successful.

This is why our number one tip is to hire professional fire restoration technicians. The costs should be paid by your insurance company, and professionals have the knowledge, experience and equipment to restore all fabrics after a fire. They will also advise if some of your fabrics, textiles and other household items are beyond economical restoration.

If you are the victim of a fire in NJ, contact Porter’s Cleaning. We’ll be happy to provide an estimate for the clean-up, and to provide the personal and bespoke restoration your home deserves.

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