By Angela Casco
When Taal Volcano surprised everyone last Sunday, there were concerns over the safety of people in Batangas. The ashfall caused close to zero visibility, making it hard for drivers to see the roads clearly. The ash also affected home owners as ash cloaked not only the towns surrounding the lake, but also spread far and wide, affecting cities in Metro Manila.
What should’ve been a normal weekend suddenly turned to a day of lining up for protective face masks, shutting doors and windows, and ultimately, staying indoors.
It’s not every day that people deal with ashfall so cleaning up could be a challenging task, most likely because many are clueless on how to go about it. Here are some important things to remember before you “wash the ash” away.
Remove ash with minimal water
Unlike dust, volcanic ash hardens (like cement) when washed off with water. It’s best to sweep the ash from open terraces, alleyways, rainwater drainages, or roofs using a broom. Use water to prevent corrosion only after removing much of the ash. So to answer the question, “Can you wash the ash away?” It is both yes and no.
Shake loose ash from plants
As mentioned, washing off ash with water should be the last resort. The same is true for plants inside and outside the home. Try shaking the ash off the plant first before even considering the use of water to clean it.
Vacuum ash from furniture
Ash settles on just about anything and that includes all the home furniture, like couches and beds. It’s not enough to dust off ash. It’s best to use a reliable vacuum to suck out all the tiny grains and particles.
Wash windows and doors with running lukewarm water
One can still wash off ash with water, but make sure to use a water hose. Then wash again with water mixed with soap. This is especially helpful when cleaning up windows and doors.
Wash clothes with powder detergent
Ash particles stick to clothes, too. As per usual, never use plain water when dealing with volcanic ash. Use a generous amount of powder detergent to make your clothes fresh and clean again.
Collect ash and keep it away from water
Gather whatever amount of ash you collect when cleaning up post-ashfall. Put it all in a trash bag and store as far away as possible from any water source. This keeps it from getting into your home again and from prompting another challenging cleanup sesh.