Your fireplace creates a warm, cozy space where you can relax near the warmth of the lively, dancing flames. When the fireplace ignites, however, black soot can leave the surrounding carpeting saturated with grimy soot. Even luminous candles that offer a gentle glow can be a source of soot.
When the soot gets trapped within light colored or white carpeting, the dark stains are anything but appealing. Attempting to haphazardly scrub away the soot only manages to spread the stains deeper into the carpet fibers. Where there is fire, soot is unavoidable.
What is Soot?
What exactly is soot? Soot is primarily composed of carbon that appears as organic material, like wood or coal, is burned. Dark, flaky particles find their way through the smoke onto areas in close proximity, like carpeting, or up the chimney, as in a fireplace fire.
Soot can be extremely tedious and difficult to remove, but it can be done. If you frequently burn fires in your fireplace, it may be handy to know how to skillfully remove soot that accumulates on the carpeting near the fireplace. You may, in fact, be saddled with the task of lifting soot almost as often as you run the fireplace.
How to Remove Soot from the Carpet
Use a few simple techniques to help remove tough soot stains from your carpeting effectively and without spreading it other areas. You’ll need a few common household materials to accomplish the task:
- Baking soda or cornstarch
- Dry cleaning solution, hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol
- Clean white towels
- Warm water
Before you begin removing the actual soot stains, remove any large chunks of soot resting on top of the carpeting. Use a utensil, like a spoon, to gently lift off any visible lumps. Be cautious and avoid smashing the soot deeper into the carpet fibers, because you’ll only end up with further stains to clean up. If you’re hesitant in carefully undertaking this important step, simply skip it.
1. Remove Soot from Carpet with Baking Soda
The next phase in tackling the sooty nuisance is to sprinkle baking soda or cornstarch on the soot. Baking soda and soot are absorbents; you can also use other household absorbents instead of either of these options. Examples of additional effective absorbents include cornmeal and white talcum powder. Absorbents gently soak up the stains without damaging the material upon which they are sprinkled.
As the absorbent pulls in the stains, it forms into a cakelike substance that can be easily vacuumed. Some absorbents are powerful enough to remove light stains completely if left on the stain for eight hours. Experts recommend, however, that an hour is enough to absorb the soot.
2. Removing the Soot with the Vacuum
Vacuum up the soot and mess with a powerful vacuum once the absorbent has set. Use a vacuum hose in areas along the baseboards for a better reach.
3. Apply Hydrogen Peroxide
Next, use a clean, white cloth soaked in dry cleaning solution, hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol to lift the remaining soot stain. A white cloth should be used, as certain chemicals may bleach the cloth. Again, be careful to avoid spreading the soot during the process. Blot, do not rub the chemical in. You’ll begin to notice the cloth gradually lifts the soot stains from the carpet fibers as they transfer onto the surface of the cloth.
About Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol, when lightly used, helps remove the stain; but be careful to avoid pushing the rubbing alcohol deep into the carpet fibers, as the alcohol may damage the carpeting. A spray bottle can be filled with the chemical you choose to use on the soot stain, then sprayed to lightly coat the stained area. Spray the area multiple times to ensure thorough coverage.
About Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide, as mentioned, is a useful solution to lift soot stains. Use a ratio of one tablespoon of peroxide with three tablespoons of warm water to dilute the chemical. It is important to note that hydrogen peroxide has a bleaching effect, so use this solution only on light colored carpeting. You can test an inconspicuous area to determine if the peroxide is safe for the color of your carpeting.
4. Blot the Area with a Damp Clean Cloth
You’ll want to remove the solvent you used to blot the soot stain with a separate clean cloth once the chemical sets for a few minutes. Moisten a clean, white cloth with warm water and blot the area. Or, you can use a cup of water to rinse the solvent from the carpeting. The cleaning solution residue can then be effectively removed with a wet/dry vacuum cleaner. Too much moisture in the carpeting can cause mold to grow beneath it. So be careful to thoroughly dry the carpeting once the above process is complete.
The soot stain will lessen in severity. Repeat the above process of laying baking soda, vacuuming and using a solvent to eliminate all traces of the soot stain.
Professional Soot Removal from the Carpet
When soot has taken hold, it can be extremely difficult to remove, especially if the soot has affected large areas. When fires are unexpected, and the resulting soot is highly damaging, call a trusted fire and smoke restoration service. ServiceMaster of Metro-East is widely regarded for their swift response to emergency and non-emergency situations. The company’s team of trained technicians are skilled in fire mitigation and restoration.
Specialists at ServiceMaster pre-clean, deodorize, and remove stains in carpets, floors, and walls when fire and soot are the source of damage. Fire and smoke restoration can only be achieved when restorers are notified immediately. Smoke damage can continue long after the fire has been extinguished, making it an urgent matter to contact a qualified fire and smoke damage professional to quickly start the cleanup process.
ServiceMaster of St. Louis is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to respond to emergency calls. The company faithfully serves businesses and residential homes in the St. Charles, Clayton and Westport communities.