What Should I Use to Clean Smoke Soot Off Appliances?

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If your home has experienced a fire, the hardest part can be cleaning up afterward. You will want to replace items such as beds, curtains and couches, but you can often save your kitchen appliances with some heavy cleaning.

Tackling the Kitchen

First, assess the damage in your kitchen. Smoke and soot often stick to countertops and ceilings, which may or may not be something you can save. Focus on the appliances, including the stove, microwave, toaster, blender, etc. These items often have soot on the outside, but are generally unharmed. If any of them show signs of being melted, throw them away. Once the item is harmed, it is safer to get rid of it than try to use it later. Clean up the kitchen and get rid of items you cannot save, including most food items and anything that has melted from the heat of the fire.

Dissolve 1 tbsp. of TSP, also known as trisodium phosphate, in a gallon bucket filled with warm water. TSP can be found in most home improvement stores. It is a harsh chemical, so make sure to wear gloves. Using a sponge or rag, dip it in the bucket and then scrub the appliances. Go over each appliance as much as necessary to remove the soot.

If you would rather not use a chemical, a simple mixture of 1-part vinegar to 3 parts water can also do the trick. Vinegar acts as a cleansing agent and can easily remove soot from painted or unpainted walls, appliances and floors. Be careful not to get too much water on the walls or floor, because you do not want it seeping in between and creating mold.

Other options include using orange-scented cleaners. Often, besides the soot, there is a strong smell of smoke in the house, even after a small fire. The orange scent can help get rid of the smoke smell and works well cleaning counters and cabinets.

Also, try to keep windows open or a fan going to help move the smoke and soot out of the house.

If these efforts fail and the house remains sooty, professionals can help. Renovators and remodeling companies often help those who have been the victims of fire, and money may be available through the Red Cross and other organizations to help families relocate for a short time after a fire. While being relocated, a company can come in and make repairs to the house to get rid of the soot damage.

In any case, it is important to have a professional on site to make sure that the house is safe to live in after a fire.