Backdrafts from chimneys, accidents with fireplaces, barbecue misadventures – these are just a few of the things that can end with soot being trampled into carpets and rugs in the house.
As you may have found, soot can quickly stain carpets, and trying to get spilled ash and coal out of the carpet may result in rubbing it in even more – not great!
Before you do step one, check to make sure there are no live embers and no chance of fire damage. If everything checks out, it’s time to start taking care of the mess.
The key to effectively get soot out is careful cleaning steps and a hefty dose of patience.
Try to get everyone out of the room, especially kids and pets (you don’t want the soot to get trampled elsewhere), and start the cleanup process. Here’s exactly what you need and what you should do.
- Large spoon: Grab a large spoon, preferably metal, from the kitchen. The thinner the edge of the spoon, the better. You could also use a metal spatula or similarly-shaped tool, but a spoon is usually the handiest.
- Baking soda: While you’re in the kitchen, get your box of baking soda as well. If you don’t have any baking soda, you can also use cornstarch or similar absorbing powders.
- Vacuum cleaner: Have your vacuum cleaner plugged in and waiting near the soot pile on the carpet.
- Cleaning rags: Pick up a cleaning rag or towel as well – something disposable, as soot stains may not wash out very easily. Paper towels can also work.
- A bucket: You will want a medium-sized bucket that you can quickly fill with warm water from the sink. If you’re short on buckets, a durable plastic bowl will work just fine.
- Rubbing alcohol: Rubbing alcohol is immensely helpful for deeper soot stains. If you have any, grab it now. If you don’t have any, consider sending someone down to the store to get some while you work.
- A sack or trash bag: Always useful any time you’re cleaning up a mess.
Step 1: Scoop Up Any Large Cinders and Ash Particles
Use your spoon and very gently scrape off any large particles from the soot pile. They may crumble a little as you touch them, so it’s essential to go slowly and take a little at a time. Deposit each spoonful in the trash bag as you go.
The key with this step is to avoid any pressure that will grind the soot further into the carpet and stain fibers even more.
That will make the next steps much more difficult, so this needs a light touch.
I don’t recommend using a brush and dustpan, no matter how tempting it maybe – it’s harder to avoid digging particular deeper, and you can also swoop ash up into the air and spread it even further around.
Step 2: Apply the Baking Soda
Baking Soda is a natural absorbent and can help remove soot particles while preventing them from getting trapped further into the carpet.
Sprinkle an even layer of baking soda on top of the soot marks, anywhere you see them.
Cornstarch is also very absorbent and can work in a pinch if you don’t have baking soda. Other contenders in an emergency include talcum powder and even cornmeal.
Avoid working the baking soda into the carpet! Just let it sit on top in a firm layer…and let it sit a long time.
You’ll need to wait around an hour for the baking soda to do its job. Soot can hold a surprising amount of moisture, and the baking soda needs some time to draw in that moisture and suspend the soot particles for easier pickup.
During this time, it’s important to continue keeping all people and pets out of the room.
Step 3: Vacuum Up the Soot
Take your trusty vacuum cleaner and thoroughly vacuum the sooty area of the carpet. Thanks to the baking soda, this should remove most of the soot without dispersing it into the air. When you are finished, it’s a good idea to take a look at your vacuum cleaner head to make sure there are no clumps of baking soda and soot stuck to the bristles.
Step 4: Blot the Soot with Rubbing Alcohol
Likely, there are still some soot stains on the carpet from deep-set soot that has worked its way into carpet fibers. However, you can even get rid of these remnants with careful blotting.
Take your rag or towel, and apply a healthy dollop of rubbing alcohol too it. Note: You can also use hydrogen peroxide for this step, but peroxide can bleach out your carpet, and you should only use it on very light carpets.
Now blot the soot stains thoroughly, allowing your rag to absorb the remaining particulars. Don’t scrub, as this tends to drive soot even further down. Switch to new sections of your rag or towel and apply more rubbing alcohol as you go.
Now wait a few minutes, and use a different rag soaked with warm water to blot again all the sections where you applied the rubbing alcohol. You don’t want to soak your carpet, but you do want to make sure that all the rubbing alcohol is removed.
Step 5: Repeat as Needed
For nasty soot accidents, this may not be enough to remove all the soot. In this case, start over with apply baking soda and run through the steps again.
What will remove soot?
One useful tool that can remove soot from carpet is a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. Avoid using a cheap bagless vacuum for cleaning soot from carpet because it’ll find its way back out due to the lack of filtration.
If you don’t want to spend on a decent bagless vacuum with a HEPA, then opt for a cheaper bagged upright with a sealed system for this purpose.
Will Magic Eraser remove soot?
Yes, Magic Eraser can remove soot from surfaces like concrete, which isn’t a surprise since it acts like sandpaper. Newer versions contain chemical-based cleaners within them. While it can remove soot, understand that like sandpaper, it can scratch the surface, so use the right pressure when rubbing on the surface.