By Joseph Shawn Young
I have worked in the restoration industry for many years. Much of the damage to homes in my area is usually from a fire. Some of the more difficult items I have cleaned in that time are carpets and upholstered furniture.
Carpets do not usually catch much damage from actual flames, but soot does settle on them. If the residue particles do not get wet or are not trampled on, it is fairly simple for someone on my crew to vacuum and remove them. Unfortunately, there is always some trampling and water.
What we do then use a commercial shampoo machine with a cleaning agent designed to penetrate soot residue, lift it out of the carpet and then remove it with the water. The machine we use is stronger than the ones available to rent from a local, retail store and has more settings so we can clean your carpet without causing any secondary damage. As a business with dedicated storage facilities and specialized training, we also have access to stronger cleaning agents.
Cleaning upholstery is more difficult, but I do have more options when it comes to equipment and methods. Most of the soot residues fall into light or medium categories. For these, I use a spray bottle or a foam pump-up sprayer.
Spray bottles are better on upholstery where the color is not likely to run or fade. I can apply a concentrated cleaner or dilute it with water to match the level of residue contamination. My team and I use a pump-up sprayer where the chance of color fading or running is more likely than with a spray bottle. With this method, I can apply the same amount of cleaner while reducing the amount of moisture. If I do not have a pump-up sprayer handy, I can get the same effect using a sponge dipped into a bucket of cleaner. I simply squeeze the moisture out before working the sponge onto the affected upholstery.
For heavier residues, my team and I use an upholstery wash and rinse machine. This device is great for when we need to agitate the surface to break up the soot with more force than we can generate by hand. After working hundreds of items with fire damage, I have found this method is usually more effective than dry cleaning.
If you have had fire damage to your home, you need to contact a professional restoration service. We have the equipment and cleaning agents not available to a homeowner to ensure the best results. Also, we are licensed in Ohio for this work and can help you with the insurance process.
Visit http://www.ci.pickerington.oh.us/ for more about the city of Pickerington