Cigarette ashes leave an unsightly mess wherever they fall, such as on the carpet. If not cleaned up, eventually an ashy discoloration coats the carpet fibers as people walk across the area. The best way to clean up that ash is to vacuum it, which also helps determine the extent of cleaning needed after that.
Instant Ash Removal
A vacuum cleaner is the perfect tool for dealing with ashes, not only because it works quickly, but because it won't spread the mess, as some other cleaning methods might. A handheld vacuum cleaner or a small portable vacuum cleaner with a hose allows you to target the site of the spill, holding the vacuum's suction device directly over the ashes. For a larger ash mess, such as an entire ash tray knocked over onto the carpet, a standard floor vacuum cleaner with powerful suction is a good choice, or simply put a wider attachment on the end of a vacuum cleaner hose. Vacuum directly over the spot instead of running back and forth over it, which could spread the ashes farther by pushing them around.
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If any ashes or dark residue remains, sprinkle the area liberally with baking soda. Let it sit for 30 minutes or so and then vacuum the area. The baking soda absorbs odors, moisture, and chemical residues that may linger in the ash. Feel free to sprinkle the baking soda over the entire carpet any day before vacuuming as an easy way to freshen the carpet without chemicals.
Wet Cleaning Methods
Although cigarette ash generally doesn't stain the way fireplace or chimney soot does, moisture-based cleaning methods come in handy for removing both types of messes. Only use moisture after vacuuming up as much ash as possible; otherwise, cleaning up may spread the mess deeper into the carpet fibers.
Pour a small amount of isopropyl rubbing alcohol onto a lint-free, absorbent white cloth; any other colors may transfer dye to the carpet, creating a stain. Gently dab the ash spot with the rubbing alcohol, pressing and holding, then checking the cloth to see if any of the gray or black transferred over to the cloth. If so, choose a fresh area of the cloth and repeat the process. If not, blot again, or gently rub the area in one direction from the outside of the stain toward the center. Use only enough alcohol to make the cloth damp, as too much may harm the adhesives holding the carpet together.
If you still notice any discoloration, blot the area again with a little dish soap and warm water on a lint-free, white cloth. Gently dab or wipe in one direction, toward the center of the stain. Rinse the cloth, dab the area again to rinse out the carpet fibers; then blot excess moisture with another lint-free, white cloth. Allow the area to dry before walking on it.