How to Clean Up Fire Extinguisher Residue

Fire extinguishers are a handy and effective way of dealing with small fires in your home or business. All you have to do is just spray away in the direction of the flames and you’ve changed a potentially disastrous situation into a manageable one.

While that’s great, of course, all that spraying can leave quite a mess! Before you go back to business as usual, you’re going to want to clean up all that residue. And depending on the type of fire extinguisher, some cleaning methods are certainly better than others.

Check Your Fire Extinguisher

Before you start cleaning up, make sure you know what chemicals are in your fire extinguisher. Check the tag or label for information about the type and class of the agent inside. 

If you find that you have a pressurized water or CO2 extinguisher, then you don’t need to worry about cleaning up any chemical residue. Just thoroughly dry the area and it should be fine.

For foam fire extinguishers, first dilute the residue before allowing it to dry. Afterward, you may also consider sanitizing or spot cleaning if there’s any remaining residue.

Cleaning up Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher Residue

These are the most common fire extinguishers out there because they can put out class A, B, and C fires. Dry chemical extinguishers typically contain agents such as monoammonium phosphate, potassium bicarbonate, and sodium bicarbonate, which will leave you with a corrosive powder.

  1. Remove any excess residue by sweeping or vacuuming.
  2. Combine 50% isopropyl alcohol and 50% warm water and spray the area. Let it soak for 5 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
  3. For sodium and potassium bicarbonate residue, mix 98% hot water with 2% vinegar and wash the area. Let it soak for 5 minutes, then rinse with warm water.
  4. For monoammonium phosphate residue, mix hot water and baking soda. Let it soak for 5 minutes and rinse with warm water.
  5. Clean the area again with soap and water, and then use a fan to help it dry.

Cleaning up Wet Chemical Fire Extinguisher Residue

These are typically found in commercial kitchens and restaurants, as they are used to put out grease fires.

  1. Put on goggles and gloves to protect yourself from the residue.
  2. Make sure all fuel sources in the area are turned off.
  3. Using hot water and soap, scrub the area with a cloth or sponge.
  4. Thoroughly rinse all affected surfaces, and then allow the area to dry.

Cleaning up Dry Powder Extinguisher Residue

You’ll often find these in warehouses and factories as they can be used to put out fires involving titanium, magnesium, and other combustible metals.

  1. Put on goggles and gloves to protect yourself from the residue.
  2. Remove any excess residue by vacuuming or brushing the area.
  3. Put all of the collected residue in a sealed bag and throw it away in the trash.
  4. Clean any remaining residue with a damp cloth.