How to Clean Smoke Damage from Walls

Fire damage in your house goes beyond the structures and items consumed by fire. Small fires, such as grease fires and electrical shorts, cause unsightly smoke damage to walls and other surfaces. Smoke soot and char should be cleaned immediately as the stains become stubborn and difficult to remove if left longer. Outlined below are some tips for removing smoke damage on walls.

Key Requirements

You should have the following items:

  • Personal protective equipment, such as safety glasses, rubber gloves, and boots
  • Chemical dry-cleaning sponge
  • Step stool or ladder
  • Drop cloth
  • Fan to improve ventilation
  • Paint thinner or rubbing alcohol
  • A mild detergent
  • Warm water and a bucket
  • Dry towel

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The Cleaning Process

Smoke char and soot left behind after a fire incident is a health hazard. These particles contain carbon-based impurities that can cause respiratory problems if inhaled. Soot particles in the alveoli can penetrate the bloodstream, where they spread to other body organs. Follow these steps to clean soot and smoke char from walls:

1. Increase Ventilation

You’ll use several cleaning products that produce toxic fumes and vapors to clean smoke damage from walls. You’ll also be exposed to a smoke-saturated environment. Inhaling these vapors and smoke components is a health risk. Therefore, you should maximize ventilation by opening windows, doors, and other openings in the room. Fresh air allows for sufficient air circulation.

2. Wear Protective Gear

You shouldn’t begin the cleaning process without the proper attire. Use rubber gloves and safety goggles to protect your eyes and skin from exposure to these harmful chemicals.

3. Protect the Floor

You should also protect the floor to avoid piling your cleaning chores. Without protection, you’ll ideally be transferring char stains and soot from the walls to the floor. Place a tarp or drop cloth on the floor.

4. Observe Safety

Apart from wearing protective equipment, you shouldn’t adhere to various safety practices when cleaning your smoke-damaged walls. For instance, don’t rely on countertops and kitchen chairs to reach high areas for cleaning. Use a sturdy ladder or step stool instead. You should also clean methodologically, working from top to bottom.

5. Use the Correct Sponge

You should choose a suitable sponge to clean smoke damage from walls. Your favorite sponge that cleans dinner plates won’t effectively remove stains. It may instead damage your walls. You should exclusively use a chemical dry-cleaning sponge to remove soot and other elements of smoke damage. Use a dry sponge to clean the stains.

Once you’ve cleared soot residue on the walls using a dry sponge, wet the sponge or soft cloth with rubbing alcohol or paint thinner to clean the surface. You shouldn’t use water-based cleaners to clean smoke-damaged walls. Test the cleaner on a small part of the wall before using it extensively. Once you’ve cleared the stains, allow the walls to air dry.

Removing Odors from Smoke Damaged Walls

Some areas of your walls may not show physical damage after a fire. However, smoke penetrates surfaces quickly, often leaving its odor. Walls can absorb and release smoke odor. Unfortunately, locating odor-saturated parts of the wall can prove challenging. You can remove smoke odor from your walls using various solutions.

Common cleaning agents that have proved effective against smoke odor include:

  • White vinegar
  • Baking soda
  • Activated charcoal
  • Fresh air or increased ventilation
  • Oxone generators


Cleaning smoke and soot immediately after a fire incident prevents health risks and further damage caused by etching, permanent staining, and discoloration. Depending on the size and nature of the fire damage, you can decide to clean it yourself or hire professionals. Hiring smoke damage professionals is prudent if your home suffered severe smoke damage.

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