How to clean smoke damaged wood furniture

Updated February 21, 2017

Cleaning smoke damaged furniture can save a favourite piece after a fire. When a fire rampages a home, the owner is often lucky to have a few pieces of furniture survive. These survivors may have smoke damage. The undesirable soot that settles onto the pieces may at first appear beyond saving, but with the proper process, they can typically be returned to normal. Consult with a professional for antique or speciality woods such as rattan or bamboo.

Clean off the initial soot and any dirt with a clean cloth. Remove as much as possible before proceeding.

Pour a small amount of denatured alcohol onto a clean white rag and test on a small spot of the wooden furniture. Pick an unseen spot, such as a bottom or back. Rub in a circular motion and watch for cracking or splitting. If no damage occurs, proceed with the process.

Wipe down all wooden parts of the furniture piece using the denatured alcohol. Rub in a circular motion, hard enough to remove the stains on the wood.

Wipe off the wood with a clean cloth. Clean again if needed.


If burn spots are present, use sandpaper to remove. The pieces will typically require complete refinishing if this is the case.


Fire may warp or weaken wooden furniture. Test carefully before putting the piece to regular use.

Things You'll Need

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Clean rags
  • Sandpaper
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About the Author

Sidney Johns began her writing career in 1993 after moving to Florida. The former teacher and surgical technician worked in the home improvement industry prior to earning a Bachelor of Science in education from Indiana University. While on hiatus in 2004, Johns studied holistic healing and organic growth and gardening.