How can I clean walls that have been damaged by smoke?

Published: 15th May 2009
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It is actually not too difficult to clean off walls that have been damaged by smoke if the damage is not too extensive, depending on what kind of wall coverings you have.

If the walls had a satin or semigloss paint on them before the fire, the paint will have actually protected the walls from getting soot deep into them, so you will just need to scrub off the walls. If the walls are just covered in soot, clean them using a mixture of warm water and trisodium phosphate cleaner. Trisodium phosphate cleaner is available at almost any hardware store; just add a tablespoon of TSP to a gallon of warm water and mix it.

You may want to wear goggles and rubber gloves while you clean the walls, since TSP can irritate your eyes. It is also a good idea to open a door or a window for ventilation. Use a large sponge, and clean the walls one section at a time. You will want to wipe off each area after you clean it with fresh water and a clean rag. Also, be careful not to get the walls too wet, because it may damage the drywall.

If the walls were covered in a flat paint, however, the damage is probably more extensive, and you will more than likely need to prime and repaint the walls after you clean them. Sometimes, the paint on the wall will actually burn during a fire, causing charring. If this has happened, you will also need to prime and repaint the walls. If the paint has been discolored unevenly from the smoke, you will want to use a paint specifically designed as a base coat so that it will cover up any smoke damage. After using the base coat, you can repaint the walls any color you like.

If you had wallpapered walls, try and find out if the wallpaper is washable or not. If you can't find out, use a very mild soap in an area that is not noticable. If you have used another type of cleaner successfully on that wallpaper before, use it again now. Unfortunately, soot is gritty, and can scratch the thing you are trying to clean if you do not try hard to be gentle. If you cannot salvage the wallpaper, you will have to remove it, which is a good idea anyway, since the wallpaper will now smell smoky as well.

Kent Hamilton is the SEO Expert for - a leading nationwide water damage restoration company specializing in 24/7 emergency service water damage restoration, water damage repair, mold remediation, flood damage repair document drying, fire and smoke damage.

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