California Wildfires

Tips for Cleaning That Bright Red Phos-Chek

As fire season continues in Southern California, many homes in the path of the flames may get doused in bright red Phos-Chek, and while homeowners are thankful the retardant saved their dwelling, they may want to clean it off instead of watching it fade to pink.

The Rancho Cucamonga-based company that makes the retardant, called Phos-Chek, along with Angeles National Forest Service Office provided tips on how to clean the product.


  • Don't power-wash Phos-Chek. If using a higher pressure power-washer, the tool may force the product deeper into whatever is being cleaned, especially porous services like concrete, advised George Matousek of ICL Performance Products LP in Rancho Cucamonga. If you power-wash Phos-Chek, it might never come off.
  • Don't let pets eat the Phos-Chek, and be careful not to leave standing water that may have run off from washing.
  • The retardant has the ingredient ammonia, and may burn if it gets into cuts, so avoid getting it on your skin.


  • Rinse the Phos-Chek off of your home with water from your garden hose as there is no need for pressure higher than that. The Phos-Chek is 100 percent water soluble. Wet the red retardant down with the hose, wait 15-20 minutes and repeat, and the Phos-Chek will begin to come off.
  • The sooner you wash it off with water, the better.
  • Sometimes the Phos-Chek sticks to more porous surfaces like a roof, wood or sidewalk. Use a soft bristle brush to speed things up.
  • If it gets on your skin, wash it with gentle soap and water. Use a moisturizer as many fire retardant chemicals are drying to skin.

Good news:

The good news for the person who doesn't have time to clean it is the product should fade in direct sunlight over two weeks to two months, Matousek said. In Southern California and other parts of the country that see a lot of sun, exposure will fade the product until it's almost invisible, depending on how much sun it gets.

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