How to Remove Smoke and Soot


Properly cleaning smoke damage is not only important but it will provide a healthy living environment for you and your family.  The acidic nature of the smoke and soot can make it difficult to remove. It can also leave harmful odors and particles that can make it difficult to breathe.  At Mammoth Restoration, we have many years of experience in fire damage restoration. We cannot only help you with any size of job, but we are also here to provide you with some tips.

 Where to Start and What You Need to Clean Smoke Damage

You probably have most of these items around your house already that will be beneficial when cleaning smoke damage. One item you may not have is a dry-cleaning sponge.  The sponge is very important for smoke damage removal- it’s important not to skip this step.

  • Rubbing alcohol/paint thinner
  • Vinegar
  • Degreaser/commercial soot remover
  • Vacuum- Shop-Vac with upholstery attachment
  • Bucket with hot water
  • Dry-cleaning sponge
  • Clean rags
  • Sponge
  • Fan

How to Clean Smoke and Soot Damage?

The first thing you will need to do is open all of the windows. Even if it’s winter, you will need to do this to allow your home to ventilate. You can also add fans to increase airflow.  Make sure to turn off your HVAC system to prevent spreading of the smoke and soot.

Protect Yourself

Make sure you have proper protection before you start cleaning. Soot, smoke and debris can be dangerous to inhale so be sure to wear a respirator.  Wear long sleeve and pants to protect your skin, also consider wearing gloves and eye protection. Consider laying down floor protection and remove any furniture or household objects that are not damaged.

Vacuum It Up

Start by removing small loose particles with a vacuum with an upholstery attachment. A Shop-Vac with a strong suction power generally works best for these projects. Be gentle when using the vacuum to loosen up the particles as they can stain if you scrub too hard.

Use the Sponge

Use the dry-cleaning sponge to wipe the soot and smoke stains. This stage is VERY important- the sponges can use a special chemical to lift stains from walls. Keep in mind, never use soot cleaner or water before you use the dry-cleaning sponge. It can make it nearly impossible to remove the smoke and soot.

Liquid Cleaners

Use a commercial soot and smoke remover, rubbing alcohol, white vinegar or paint thinner- combine in a bucket and start soaking the rag to wipe down the walls. It’s important to wipe down each wall even if there is not visibly damaged- don’t forget to wipe the light bulbs! Once you have wiped everything down with the soot/smoke remover, combine a small amount of either dish soap or degreaser in a bucket with warm water. Wipe down the same area you previously did.

Dry It and Deep Clean It

Once you are finished cleaning all of the surfaces it’s time to dry it out! Place fans in each room to help dry it out quicker. It may still smell like smoke for a few days after you have finished cleaning.  Identify the objects in the room(s) that can easily trap the smell in. Move these items to another room or out to help air them out to remove the smell. Consider getting your carpets professionally cleaned along with your upholstery.  Try to avoid using cover scents or fragrances to mask the smell.

Still Need Help? Contact Mammoth Today!

Cleaning your home after smoke or soot damage can be a difficult job. At Mammoth Restoration, we are here to help you with all your fire needs. We understand it can not only be difficult to clean your home, but it can be difficult emotionally. We are here to provide you with the guidance and help to get your home back to the way it was! Give us a call today to schedule your appointment.


Mammoth Restoration works with home and business owners throughout Flagstaff and Northern Arizona, insurance companies, the State of Arizona, various law enforcement entities, and other licensed contractors. Call us today for your restoration and remediation needs.


Mammoth Restoration works with home and business owners, insurance companies, the State of Arizona, various law enforcement entities, and other licensed contractors

Call us today for your restoration and remediation needs: (928) 714-0003