Removing Soot Stains from Walls

by Lecia DeBrine
(last updated December 7, 2020)

Candlelit dinners and cozy fires are great but they can end up discoloring your walls and ceilings with soot stains. The grayish black film is greasy and will usually not come off when washed with water, not until the soot itself is removed, and then the stain can be addressed. Only after you have given it your best shot at removal should you even think about repainting. This is one way to remove the stain and avoid the hassle of repainting an entire wall.

  1. Using a soot sponge, also known as a dry sponge or a "Chem Sponge," rub the wall taking care to get every area so the soot will be lifted from the entire wall. The sponge will attract the soot and hold onto it so that it will not be spread around or reapplied as you work your way over the whole area.
  2. Once you have removed as much of the soot as will come off you can wash the wall with some Murphy's Oil and warm water, starting from the bottom and working upward wiping the wall with a clean cloth. Dish soap can be used as well, the soap in the warm water will cut through any leftover grease and clean the remaining residue off the wall and working from the bottom upward will lessen the amount of streaks you will see. This step may need to be repeated a couple of times before your wall is completely soot and streak free.
  3. If the stain persists you may want to call a professional for either an estimate or some advice on other way to remove the stain. When you are looking at professionals to do the job you want to try and find one that specializes in smoke or fire damage, they will have better advice for you and will be able to give you a more accurate estimate.

Professionals can be pricy and may come up with the same results as you, it is at this point that you should decide if you want to repaint or not. If you decide against it you can keep trying to get the stain off little by little or you can live with the discolored walls, but if you want to paint the wall find a primer that is formulated for covering smoke damage. The first two steps should definitely be done before you paint to remove the soot, or the stain will bleed through your next coat of paint. Now you just need to get rid of the candle and opt for an outside fireplace to protect your nice clean walls from further damage.

Author Bio

Lecia DeBrine

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