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Article: Cleaning Walls and Hard Surfaces After A Fire

Professionals use a heavy-duty suction machine to remove tough soil from walls and ceilings. A homeowner may use a vacuum wall brush attachment, emptying or changing the bag often. You may need to clean the wall brush in suds, rinsing and drying thoroughly before using again on clean surfaces; or buy a new brush.

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Next treat clinging soot by applying the type of absorbent putty used to clean wallpaper. Then washable surfaces should be washed with suds. If repainting is needed this preliminary cleaning is vital because paint or varnish will not adhere to soil. Use moderately-strong alkali solution such as 2 tablespoons to a gallon of water of washing soda, trisodium phosphate or ammonia, for soil-based soot if soot does not come off readily with regular suds. May need to apply a sealer compound such as "BIN" before repainting (see "REMOVING SMOKE ODORS AFTER A FIRE" under ODOR.

Wash windows, mirrors and lighting fixtures with lukewarm suds, adding a little ammonia to both the suds and rinse water.

If woodwork is refinished with paint or enamel, pretreat and suds the same as walls.
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Heat causes most plastics to melt and fuse. If there is no heat damage, smoke and water have little or no serious effect and plastics can be washed with suds.

Wash porcelain enamel with hot suds. A special cleaner of the type used for automobiles may be needed to remove heavy smoke discoloration.

MSU Extension
About The Author:
This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus, with references from Arkansas Extension bulletin How to Clean House After a Fire.

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