How to clean up wildfire ash

September 7, 2017

Ash from the Eagle Creek Fire continues to settle onto the cars, window sills, countertops and floors of residents across Multnomah County. Before plugging in your vacuum, consider these tips on how to clean it up. 

Wildfire ash is similar to the ash that collects in your fireplace, but it may contain traces of cancer-causing chemicals. Visible pieces of ash are big enough to be kept out of the lungs by the body’s natural defenses in the nose and throat, but when it circulates in the air, it can irritate the skin, nose and throat, and can trigger an attack for people who have asthma.

Experts recommend:

  • Put on pants, long sleeves and gloves before you begin cleaning.
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe ash from household surfaces.
  • Wipe off children’s toys.
  • Gently sweep ash from the floors and follow with a wet mop. Avoid vacuums without a HEPA filter, so you don’t put ash back into the air.
  • Wash any fruits and vegetables from your garden before eating them.
  • Wash the family pets.
  • Take your vehicles to a local car wash to avoid scratching the paint.