How to safely remove ash from your home and protect your pets

SEATTLE -- Talk around the water cooler Wednesday morning likely wasn't "Game of Thrones" or the Seahawks game.

If it was anything like the Q13 Newsroom, it was centered around one thing:

Ash. Ash and dust.

More specifically, how to get ash out of your home. And if the ash was harmful to pets.

Much like your car, you shouldn't simply wipe the ash from all of your home's surfaces. Wiping kicks fine particulates up into the air that can cause skin and eye irritation, says Larry Altose with the Department of Ecology.

It also can damage wood and some more expensive fabric, says Mike Hiatt, a general manager for D.A. Burns in Seattle.

"It can definitely scratch wood," Hiatt said. "Upholstered furniture, too."

Hiatt recommends cleaning wood with a wet cloth.

A vacuum with a hepa filter is best for most upholstery and carpet.  Of course, a vacuum can kick up ash. It won't have any long-term impact for healthy people, but is an irritant and can be dangerous for those with a lung disease or asthma, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

"Ash has not and will not accumulate in sufficient depths in our cities to put people at risk when cleaning it up," Altose said.

Use a dusk mask while cleaning or vacuuming to cut down on irritation.

Hiatt says heavier dust can also damage outdoor furniture, and it should be hosed off.

The ash can irritate pets, too, says Veternarian Donna Windom of the North Seattle Vet Clinic.

Windom recommends leaving a window open, but having a fan facing out to push ash away. Wipe your windowsills down, especially if your cats have a tendency to sit and look longingly outside.

Ash can also trigger asthma in animals, Windom said. Be on the lookout for wheezing and sneezing in pets.

Pets also have a tendency to have eye irritation in heavy smoke. Though the smoke is dying down, watch for red eye and any sort of extra irritant in dogs and cats.

For more information on how to safely clean ash from your home, visit the Air Resources Board website.