Removing Soot From Wood Surfaces

After a fire, there is always a lot of cleaning that needs to be done. One of the hardest fire damage cleanup jobs is removing soot from various surfaces in the home.

Because materials absorb soot in different ways, the way you clean soot out of carpet or upholstery is not going to be the same manner in which you remove it from countertops or wood cabinets. We’re going to go over the various surfaces in your home and how to remove soot from them.

Why Is Soot Removal So Important In Fire Damage Restoration?

Aside from the obvious ugly damage soot leaves behind, it can also be bad for your health to leave it unchecked after a fire. Even after a small fire in the kitchen, soot particles can become trapped in wood or fabric, which can lead to respiratory issues for small children and pets.

It is very important to clean any soot thoroughly. It is also why it is usually best to call a professional fire damage restoration company like Aladdin’s when you have a fire in your home.

Removing Soot From Wood Surfaces

There are two basic ways to remove soot from wood surfaces in your home. Tables, chairs, walls and cabinets are just some of the items in your home that are usually composed of wood. The two main methods of removing soot from wood are ‘dry’ and ‘wet’.

Dry Cleaning Soot From Wood

To clean wood using a “dry” method, you can use soot sponges found at most hardware stores.

Dry cleaning soot sponges are one of the most effective soot removing tools. They are effective at cleaning soot from walls and wood surfaces. Despite their name, they actually do not contain any chemicals at all and work best when dry. They are often called soot remover sponges, chemical sponges, chem sponges, and wall brite sponges.

Cleaning soot from wood surfaces after a fire.

They will get dirty while removing soot stains, but you can rinse and reuse them once they dry. For set-in stains, you can cut away that portion of the sponge. This way you can maximize the cleaning power of each sponge.

Another closely related method is the melamine sponge. These are often called “magic” sponges.

In addition to removing dirt and marks, they are also effective soot removers for both walls and wood. Unlike dry cleaning sponges, melamine scrubbing sponges do include cleaners and work both wet and dry.

You can make your own magic scrubbing sponges by soaking a melamine sponge in a quarter cup of water, a tablespoon of baking soda, and a teaspoon of borax soap. Allow the sponge to soak up the mixture, then wring it out until it’s just damp. Melamine scrubbing sponges are available at major retailers and hardware stores.

Wet Cleaning Soot From Wood Surfaces

There are several solutions available for cleaning wood surfaces with liquid materials. Some work better than others. All of them are easy to find in stores, and have different applications when cleaning wood.

Oil Based Wood Cleaners

Commonly marketed as oil soaps, oil-based wood cleaners are effective at gently cleaning soot from both finished and unfinished wood. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions for diluting and gently wipe the wood with a soft sponge or a microfiber cloth.

Avoid allowing oil soaps to soak into unfinished woods, as they may stain. When scrubbing finished wood, always work in the same direction as the wood grain to limit scratches. You can find oil soap wood cleaners at major retailers and hardware stores.


Household cleaners with a degreaser are another powerful soot remover. Degreasers are most effective on thick, oily soot stains associated with kitchen or grease fires. Avoid using any cleaner that is gritty, as it can scratch wood and paint. While degreasers may work on wood, they are most effective at removing soot from walls and ceilings.

Mix the degreaser with some warm water and wipe walls clean with a soft sponge or a microfiber cloth. While you should apply some pressure, avoid scrubbing too hard as you may scrap way the paint. Degreasers for cleaning soot are available at most major retailers and hardware stores.

Dish Detergent

Most household dish detergents include a grease-fighting agent that is equally effective at cleaning soot stains. Avoid using any dish detergent that is gritty, as it can scratch walls and woodwork.

Mix the degreaser with some warm water and use a soft sponge or a microfiber cloth to clean soot from walls or wood. While you should apply some pressure, avoid scrubbing too hard. Dish detergents are available at most major retailers and some hardware stores.

White Vinegar

Regular white vinegar is one of the most versatile cleaners. Not only will it break down oily soot stains, but it can even remove set-in nicotine stains. Mix one part warm water to three parts vinegar, then wipe gently with a soft sponge or microfiber cloth to remove soot from walls, ceilings, or woodwork.

When cleaning finished wood, avoid allowing the vinegar to sit for too long. It only takes a few minutes for the vinegar to stain the surface. Also, avoid using other types of vinegar, like cider vinegar or red white vinegar, as they have more pungent odors and may leave their own stains. White vinegar is available at grocery stores and major retailers.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a versatile cleaner that also doubles as a soot remover. Clean soot off walls and wood by gently rubbing baking soda into the surfaces with a soft sponge or microfiber cloth. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before wiping cleaning with a damp cloth.

However, baking soda may stain finished woods, so use caution. Additionally, baking soda and vinegar are known for their foaming chemical reactions. Although they do make an effective cleaner, it may be too vigorous for soot stains.

If you keep a box of baking soda in your fridge to limit odors, don’t throw that box away when it’s time to change. Instead, keep it for cleaning. Just remember to mark the box so you don’t mix it up with your cooking baking soda. You can find baking soda at grocery stores and major retailers.

Cleaning Soot From Carpet & Upholstery

Often, furniture in the home will be comprised of both wood and fabric. Dining room chairs are a common example of this. While cleaning the wood may be accomplished by the methods above, the upholstery on the furniture will be more difficult.

When it comes to carpet & upholstery, the different types of fabrics can require different types of cleaners. Some cleaners can damage your fabrics, and it is important to know what works best for each. Rather than experimenting with all of the traditional carpet cleaning materials out there, your best bet is to call a professional carpet and upholstery cleaning company.

While most times you would need to contact a different contractor after the fire damage restoration process is complete, Aladdin’s works differently. We are also a professional carpet and upholstery cleaning company. So when you call Aladdin’s after a fire, you can have all of the cleaning and restoration done at one time, saving you time, hassle, and money.

If you experience a fire, call the professionals at Aladdin’s Cleaning & Restoration.