how to remove creosote from telephone pole

Creosote is a thick, tar-like substance used as a wood preservative on telephone poles to protect them from weather and pests. Removing creosote from a telephone pole can be a challenging and potentially hazardous task due to the toxic nature of creosote. It’s essential to exercise caution and follow safety precautions when attempting to remove it. Here are some steps you can take:

Safety Precautions:

  1. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, safety goggles, and a respiratory mask, to protect yourself from exposure to creosote fumes and skin contact.

Materials and tools you may need:

  1. Pressure washer with hot water capability
  2. High-pressure nozzle or steam cleaner (optional)
  3. Scrub brush or wire brush
  4. Biodegradable degreasing detergent or creosote cleaner
  5. Garden hose
  6. Bucket
  7. Safety equipment (as mentioned above)


  1. Prepare the Work Area:
    • Ensure the work area is well-ventilated to dissipate creosote fumes. Work outdoors if possible, and avoid confined spaces.
  2. Remove Loose Dirt and Debris:
    • Begin by removing any loose dirt, dust, or debris from the surface of the telephone pole. You can use a stiff brush or a pressure washer with a low-pressure nozzle for this purpose.
  3. Mix Cleaning Solution:
    • In a bucket, prepare a cleaning solution by diluting a biodegradable degreasing detergent or a creosote cleaner with water. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate dilution ratio.
  4. Apply the Cleaning Solution:
    • Apply the cleaning solution to the surface of the telephone pole using a brush or a sponge. Work in small sections to ensure thorough coverage.
  5. Scrub the Surface:
    • Scrub the surface of the telephone pole vigorously with a scrub brush or wire brush. This will help break down and loosen the creosote.
  6. Pressure Wash or Steam Clean (optional):
    • For stubborn creosote deposits, you can use a pressure washer with hot water capability or a steam cleaner. These machines can help soften and remove creosote more effectively. Ensure you maintain a safe distance to avoid damaging the wood.
  7. Rinse Thoroughly:
    • Rinse the telephone pole thoroughly with a pressure washer or a garden hose to remove the cleaning solution and any loosened creosote. Ensure all residue is washed away.
  8. Dispose of Waste Properly:
    • Collect and dispose of any contaminated water and cleaning materials in accordance with local environmental regulations. Creosote is considered hazardous waste, so it must be disposed of properly.
  9. Repeat as Necessary:
    • Depending on the severity of the creosote buildup, you may need to repeat the cleaning process several times to achieve the desired results.
  10. Inspect and Maintain:
    • Inspect the telephone pole for any remaining creosote or signs of deterioration. Consider applying a wood preservative or sealant to protect the pole from future creosote buildup and environmental factors.

It’s important to note that the removal of creosote from telephone poles may require special equipment and expertise. In many cases, telephone companies or utility providers hire professionals to handle creosote removal and maintenance to ensure safety and compliance with environmental regulations. If you have concerns about a creosote-treated telephone pole, it’s advisable to contact your local utility provider for assistance.

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