How To Clean Smoke Off of a Ceiling

Ceilings can take a beating with smoke stains if there is a regular heat or fire source in the room. Smoke stains are commonly found in kitchens, dining rooms or anywhere where candles or cigarettes are regularly lit. Your nightly romantic candlelight dinners show as a smoke stain in the morning.

Smoke stains appear as yellowish stains that look like dirt on your ceiling. Cleaning slight soot off a ceiling can be a little problematic but it is doable. Just follow these maintenance tips and you’ll get it off in no time.

Here’s how to clean smoke off of a ceiling.

  1. Assess the area that you need to clean. Clear the space below it or cover with a drop cloth. You want to protect your furniture and carpet or floors while cleaning your ceiling.
  2. With a broom or swifter, sweep the ceiling. If you have a textured ceiling, be gentle so as not to remove the porous material. You can also vacuum off the cobwebs and other visible dirt.
  3. Prepare your materials. Purchase some Tri-Sodium Phosphate (TSP) from a hardware store. You will also need protective eye goggles, rubber gloves, big sponges and a bucket of warm water. Get a stable ladder or something you can use as scaffolding to reach the ceiling. You may also use a facemask or a bandanna to cover your nose.
  4. Be very careful when handling Tri-Sodium Phosphate. It is a harsh chemical and may not even be available in smaller hardware stores. Read the label instructions to prepare the TSP solution. Usually, one tablespoon of TSP mixed with a gallon of water is enough. It may be easier to mix your solution in a spray bottle so you can spray directly to the ceiling.
  5. Make sure your area is well ventilated when cleaning. Open as many windows as possible.
  6. Apply the solution to your ceiling. Do not put too much solution or this will just drip on your floor or even damage your ceiling.
  7. Wipe the soot off the ceiling. Let the TSP solution dissolve the soot so you don’t need to scrub so hard.
  8. If there is a smoke smell in the house from smoke damage, use some vinegar. Leave out a cup of vinegar in a small bowl. This will absorb bad odors.
  9. If the damage is severe, such as smoke stains from a house fire, opt for a professional to clean it out. Indoor fire damage may be too extensive to clean on your own. Check your local listings or check the Internet for resources in your area.
  10. If the stains really bother you, just consider having your ceiling repainted. It will camouflage all dirt and stains aside from the smoke. An added plus is it will spruce up your room.

Prevent getting smoke stains on your ceiling in the future. If you smoke cigarettes, try to smoke outdoors. If you really want to use candles or smoke stains are just unavoidable inside your home, just clean the ceiling regularly to prevent build up.


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