After a minor fire, often the worst damage is not done by the fire itself but by the smoke and soot. Smoke damage and lingering odours take time and careful consideration. Different materials require different cleaning methods, and it is often best to let a professional handle serious cases of smoke damage or persistent smoky odours. However, there are several things you can do yourself to remove smoke damage and smell.
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Things you need
- Vacuum cleaner with nozzle attachment
- Paint thinner or rubbing alcohol
- Mild detergent
Open windows for ventilation, if possible. Ventilation will not remove all lingering smoke odour but will help.
Vacuum all visible soot using a vacuum cleaner with a nozzle attachment. Do not press the nozzle attachment directly into the upholstery or carpets.
Take dry-cleanable clothing, bedspreads, curtains and other items to a professional dry cleaner for cleaning. Call a professional carpet cleaner to clean carpets. Do not attempt to clean dry-clean only textiles or carpeting yourself.
Wash any machine-washable clothing and textiles according to their care label. Clothing with visible smoke damage should be washed in warm water. Use a liquid detergent. According to research at Louisiana State University, this is the most effective method for removing smoke odour but may take up to five wash cycles to fully remove the odour.
Wash wood or tile floors with a cotton mop or cloths. Vacuum up any visible soot before washing.
Remove visible soot from walls and ceilings using a sponge soaked in paint thinner or rubbing alcohol. After all soot is removed, wipe down walls and ceilings with a sponge or cloth dipped in mild, soapy water to remove smoke smell.
Replace all air conditioning and furnace filters daily, according to your furnace or air conditioner's manual, if you are using the air conditioner or furnace. This will help keep the smoke odour from recirculating.
Tips and warnings
- If ventilation and replacement of air conditioning and furnace filters do not rid the home of the smoke odour, it may be necessary to have a professional fire restorer treat the home with either an ozone treatment or thermal fogging.
- Do not attempt to clean smoke-damaged items before removing all visible soot and soil.
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