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How to Clean Up Fire Extinguisher Residue

Posted on: August 8, 2017

Did you recently use a portable fire extinguisher to quench a small fire in your Maryland, DC, or Virginia business? You’re probably relieved to have the incident behind you, but before you can return to business as usual, you must clean up the fire extinguisher residue.

The recommended cleaning methods depend on the type of extinguisher you used. Follow this guide to get your building back to normal.

Clean Up Dry Chemical Fire Extinguisher Residue

Dry chemical fire extinguishers use firefighting agents such as monoammonium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, and potassium bicarbonate. These leave behind a corrosive powder, so it’s important to clean up dry chemical fire extinguisher residue quickly, especially if it has come in contact with metal surfaces.

  • Vacuum or sweep up loose debris.
  • Spray stuck-on residue with isopropyl alcohol diluted 50 percent with warm water. Let the solution sit for several minutes, and then wipe with a damp rag.
  • To neutralize sodium bicarbonate and potassium bicarbonate residue, apply a solution of 98 percent hot water and 2 percent vinegar. After several minutes, wipe the area with a damp rag.
  • To neutralize monoammonium phosphate residue, apply a baking soda and hot water paste. After several minutes, wipe the area with a damp rag.
  • Give the affected area a final wash with soap and water, and then rinse clean. Use fans to help the spot dry quickly.
  • If dishes, cookware, or clothing have dry chemical fire extinguisher residue on them, wash as usual in the dishwasher or washing machine.

Clean Up Class K Wet Chemical Fire Extinguisher Residue

Because of the corrosive nature of dry chemicals, Class K wet chemical extinguishers are recommended for commercial kitchens. When cooking oil and grease catch on fire, a potassium acetate-based, low-pH Class K extinguisher discharges a fine mist to cool cooking surfaces and extinguish the flames. Before you start cooking again, you need to clean up the residue.

  • To prep the area, shut off power to all cooking equipment and put on rubber gloves.
  • Wipe away foamy residue with a sponge or cloth dipped in hot, soapy water.
  • Rinse all surfaces that came in contact with wet chemicals and allow everything to dry completely before turning the power back on.

Clean Up Halotron Fire Extinguisher Residue

Some older fire extinguishers use Halon as the primary extinguishing agent. While these are no longer in production, you may still have a Halotron fire extinguisher that you recently used to douse a blaze. While Halon leaves behind no visible residue, it’s still important to clean areas that came in contact with this extinguishing agent to remove smoky smells from the fire and neutralize the surface.

  • Apply diluted degreaser to the affected area. Use a sponge for small spots or a spray bottle for larger surface areas.
  • Apply a neutral cleaner to remove any remaining residue.
  • Wipe away all cleaning products and allow the surface to dry.

No Cleanup Needed for Clean Agent Fire Extinguishers

Clean agent extinguishers are non-conductive and non-ozone depleting, making them ideal for putting out fires near computers and electronics that could be damaged by water or corrosive dry chemicals. Clean agent extinguishers are effective against Class A, B, and C fires.

Because clean agents dissipate harmlessly into the atmosphere, they leave no residue behind and require no cleanup.

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