Cleaning up: inside

In general, surfaces should be vacuumed to remove as much ash as possible from carpets, furniture, office equipment, appliances, and other items. Portable vacuum systems equipped with high-efficiency particulate filtering systems are recommended whenever possible. The severity of ash intrusion depends on the integrity of windows and entrances, the air intake features, and the care exercised to control the transport of ash into a building or home via shoes and clothing. Care should also be taken to avoid further contamination during the emptying, cleaning, and maintenance of vacuum equipment. In hot climates, where windows are permanently open, or absent, clean up of houses may be needed several times per day. Clean up inside should only be undertaken after the outside areas have been well cleared.

Things TO DO

  • Clean your house when public-works crews are cleaning the areas outside your house as a co-ordinated approach.
  • Put on your mask before starting to clean. If you don't have one, use a wet cloth.
  • Ensure good ventilation by opening all doors and windows before you start to clean.
  • Only use one entrance to the building while cleaning to ensure occupants do not bring in ash into clean areas.
  • Use a dustless method of cleaning such as washing with water and an effective detergent/wetting agent. Damp rag techniques or vacuuming should be used whenever possible. After vacuuming, carpets and upholstery may be cleaned with a detergent shampoo. Avoid excess rubbing action because the sharp ash particles may cut textile fibres.
  • Glass, porcelain enamel and acrylic surfaces may be scratched if wiped too vigorously. Use a detergent soaked cloth or sponge and dab rather than wipe.
  • High-shine wood finishes will be dulled by the fine grit. Vacuum surfaces and then blot with a wet cloth. A tack cloth used by furniture refinishers should also work well.
  • Ash-coated fabrics should either be rinsed under running water and then washed carefully, or they can be taken outside and beaten to remove the ash.
  • Soiled clothing will require extra detergent. Wash small loads of clothing, using plenty of water so the clothes will have room to move freely in the water.
  • Brush or shake clothes before washing. Moisten thick ash deposits on hard floors and place in bags (avoid sweeping dry ash).
  • Use a damp mop or wet cloth to clean hard floors.
  • Floor sweepers with side brushes should not be used to clear aisles and floors because they may re-entrain dust particles into the air.
  • Clean your computer, TV and radio equipment using a vacuum cleaner or compressed air (see [guidelines; internal link to BLD_D] on looking after electronics following an ashfall). Switch off the main power supply to the machine before carrying out this operation.
  • For several months after an ashfall, filters may need replacing often. Air conditioner and furnace filters need careful attention. Clean refrigerator air intakes. Clean any surface that may blow air and recirculate the ash. Stove fans and vents should be cleaned thoroughly.
  • Keep children indoors and discourage play in dusty settings.
  • Keep pets indoors. If pets go out, brush them before letting them indoors.

Things NOT to do

  • Do not use floor sweepers with side brushes to clear aisles and floors because they may re-entrain dust particles into the air.
  • Do not clean by blowing with compressed air or dry sweeping as ash will be remobilised into the air.
  • Do not use fans or electric clothes dryers which might remobilise ash.