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How do I Remove Soot from Carpet?

Removing soot from carpet requires gentle precision. Start by vacuuming with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to avoid pushing soot deeper into fibers. Then, sprinkle baking soda to absorb, and after a few hours, vacuum again. For stubborn stains, a mixture of dish soap and water applied with a soft cloth can lift residue. Wondering about professional techniques? Continue with us.
Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

If you’re trying to remove soot from carpet, you’ll generally need to follow a fairly careful procedure. According to most experts, the first step is to vacuum the area. After that, it is common to apply some kind of stain remover, and it will usually be something designed for grease stains. Once the stain remover has time to do its work, you’ll need to dab the area with a cloth to get up as much of the stain as possible, and then apply fresh water and dab again. This method is known to work well because it avoids spreading any stains further throughout your carpet.

Vacuuming first is considered one of the most important steps when you try to remove soot from your carpet. Soot is very prone to spreading around, so if you sweep it up with a broom, you will probably make a larger portion of your carpet dirty in the process. The vacuum cleaner is able to remove soot without rubbing it into the carpet, and this is its chief advantage. In order to get the best results, most experts recommend starting the process at the edge of the soot and working inward as you vacuum. Some people also warn against using vacuums with rolling brushes on the bottom because they can help bury soot into the carpet fibers more deeply.

Vacuum cleaners work well for removing soot from carpet.
Vacuum cleaners work well for removing soot from carpet.

Many stain removers are known to help remove soot, but those designed specifically for grease are known to have the best reputation. After the stain remover soaks into the blackened area, it’s usually very important not to use a wiping motion to get up the stain. This is because wiping can help spread the soot around, and that is exactly what you’re normally trying to avoid. Soft blotching is generally recommended, and it’s important to be careful not to overuse the parts of the cloth that get dirty during the process. In fact, you may want to bring another cloth along if the job is particularly difficult so that you can always blot with a pristine piece of cloth.

Rubber gloves should be worn when cleaning soot.
Rubber gloves should be worn when cleaning soot.

The water that is applied after the fact is generally just an effort to get the most out of the stain remover and blotting processes. Sometimes all these steps may not be enough and you may have to consider other measures. There are commercial steam cleaners available that you can purchase or rent, and these can sometimes handle jobs that are too tough for cleaning by hand. If all else fails, you may also decide to have your carpet professionally cleaned.

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Discussion Comments


The brand name blue dish soap is the best grease remover ever! The commercials talk about it getting grease off dishes, but it also does a bang-up job of getting it out of cloth or fibers, too. It's a great stain remover.

The accepted wisdom says you should test it on an "inconspicuous area" to make sure it doesn't take the color out, but I've never seen it do that. Still, if you're super picky about your carpet, do the color test. Always good to make sure, I guess.

And there's professional cleaning if you make a hash out of getting the soot up, but I'd try it myself, first. The pros do a good job, but they will walk away with a large chunk of your cash.


Sooty carpet is definitely a problem if you have a fireplace. I wouldn't have one unless I had a wood or tile floor.

Anyway, definitely vacuum first. Use the wand attachment and kind of keep it at an angle to sort of encourage the loose soot to get sucked up. If you have a hand vacuum, sometimes those work really well. The main thing, as the article mentions, is not to get the soot ground into the carpet. It's tenacious stuff, and sucking it up from the borders is usually the best way to do it.

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    • Vacuum cleaners work well for removing soot from carpet.
      By: trekandshoot
      Vacuum cleaners work well for removing soot from carpet.
    • Rubber gloves should be worn when cleaning soot.
      By: aleksandra_1981
      Rubber gloves should be worn when cleaning soot.
    • Steam cleaners may be effective in removing soot from carpet.
      By: TMakotra
      Steam cleaners may be effective in removing soot from carpet.