Home Care Guide: How to Identify, Remove and Prevent Black Soot

Row of white lit candles in gold holders sit on a table in a dining room with a light wood sideboard, black chairs, framed photos and a dark blue wall in the background.

You want to take care of your home, so there are some common things you should look out for while doing routine cleaning and maintenance. Check out this post for more info on black soot.

What is Black Soot?

Black soot, sometimes mistaken for mold, is a black substance or residue that’s left behind after fuel is burned. It can come from common household items like candles and is an air pollutant that can cause health problems if it isn’t addressed. If you suspect there is black soot in your home, you should remove the source, clean the soot off of any surfaces and take steps to prevent it from occurring again in the future.


What Causes Black Soot?

Almost all black soot found in homes comes from scented candles. This is because the oils in candles don't burn completely, so the oil enters the air and turns into black soot. These soot particles are extremely small and can stay in the air for months. Other sources of black soot in a home can also include kerosene lamps, tobacco smoke or cooking oils.

Why Does Black Soot Happen in Your Home?

Here are a few common areas where black soot can accumulate in your home and why:

  • Because manufactured homes are tightly constructed and sealed, soot particles may not exit the home easily.
  • Black soot can gather at the base of doors because carpet can act as a filter when air goes under the door, trapping particles in one area.
  • Small black soot particles can be found on light switches and outlets due to static electricity.
  • Temperature differences in walls can cause something called “ghosting,” which is the buildup of particles on the wall, creating black spots or streaks.

How to Identify Black Soot

To figure out if a black stain is soot or mold, rub the black stain with a small amount of bleach and a paper towel. Make sure your test area is small and rub the stain lightly to prevent damage to the surface. If the black color is still present after you’ve rubbed it, the particles are soot. If the color goes away from the towel, it is likely mold and should be treated properly, especially if it’s in a damp area of your home.

A man in a blue shirt with yellow rubber gloves uses a light blue sponge to clean a marble countertop in a manufactured home kitchen.

How to Remove Black Soot

To remove black soot in your home, we recommend using the following steps. You should also make sure to wear gloves and a mask, and consider consulting a professional cleaner if necessary.

  • Find and remove the source of the soot to prevent more from occurring.
  • Vacuum any dirty surfaces to help remove particles. It may also help to soak any fabrics, like pillows or blankets, in cold water before cleaning them.
  • Combine 1 quart of water and 3-4 squirts of liquid dish soap that contains a degreaser in a bucket and use with a sponge to remove soot from surfaces.

How to Prevent Black Soot

You can help prevent black soot from forming in your home with a few different tips and tricks. Check out these ways to keep your home black soot free:

  • Use alternatives to lighting candles, such as candle warmers or LED candles.
  • Air the house out when lighting scented candles by opening windows.
  • Use high quality pleated air filters.
  • If you do light candles, choose high quality ones with single wicks and wax that is hard to the touch and doesn't soften.

To ensure the quality and durability of your home for the future, it’s important to take care of it and to routinely check for any issues that may need to be addressed. At Clayton, we’re here to help you stay on top of those maintenance tasks with our handy Home Care Guide. It’s full of tips for your HVAC system, landscaping, siding, appliances and more. Check it out today!

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Care for your Clayton home with maintenance information and decor ideas.