Even when a kitchen fire is small, it can still produce a great amount of smoke and soot. Soot consists of tiny carbon particles that float through the air, and it will stick to any surface it lands on. It's important to clean up soot as soon as you can since it often causes permanent staining when it's left on a surface for too long — it's acidic, so it can damage paint and cause metal surfaces to rust. To help you quickly clean up your kitchen after a fire, read on to find out how to remove soot stains.

Wear Safety Gear

Before you begin cleaning, you'll need to don a mask and some long-sleeved clothing. Soot can be dangerous since it's often highly acidic and may contain small amounts of chemicals such as paint residue. If you get any soot on your bare skin while you're cleaning, you should wash it off immediately.

Turn Off Your Home's Central Air

You should also turn off your home's HVAC system. You'll release small particles of soot into the air while you're cleaning, and they'll spread throughout your home if your air conditioner or furnace is turned on. Instead, you should set up fans in your kitchen that point towards an open door or window. This will help reduce smoke odors in your home.

Remove Loose Soot Using a Vacuum

Soot produced by kitchen fires is typically damp and contains small amounts of grease, which means that it will smudge easily. Use a small hand vacuum to remove as much soot as possible from the surfaces in your kitchen before you begin cleaning. This reduces the risk that you'll spread the soot around as you clean.

Clean Your Painted Surfaces Using Trisodium Phosphate

You'll need to clean your cabinetry, your ceiling and your walls with trisodium phosphate. Mix a quarter cup of trisodium phosphate with a gallon of water, and then use a sponge to wipe down any areas that have been covered in soot.

Trisodium phosphate is a highly alkaline cleaner, so take care while you're using it. It can burn your skin and irritate your eyes. However, its alkalinity will neutralize the acidity of the soot, preventing it from damaging your surfaces further.

After you've cleaned the soot-damaged areas with diluted trisodium phosphate, rinse them well with water and pat them dry. You'll have to repaint all of the damaged areas since trisodium phosphate will slightly discolor them.

Clean Non-Porous Surfaces With a Soot Sponge

You shouldn't use trisodium phosphate on non-porous surfaces like a tile floor or backsplash since it will damage them. For these areas, you'll need a soot sponge. You can purchase them at hardware stores, and they're made of a rubber material that lifts away soot.

Rub your soot sponge along any stained surfaces to remove the soot, then rinse them with a small amount of water. You can also use a soot sponge on any appliances that were stained by soot, such as your refrigerator.

If your kitchen fire damage is extensive or if you're having difficulty removing stubborn soot, contact a fire damage repair company in your area. They have access to high-powered cleaning methods like sandblasting and steam washing that can penetrate deeper into soot-damaged surfaces. When you're not having much success cleaning your kitchen, call a professional fire damage repair service as soon as possible — the longer that acidic soot is left on your surfaces, the more damage it will do.