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How to clean fire smoke damage

Updated April 17, 2017

A fire is devastating. Even if you're lucky enough to avoid much burn damage, the smoke can leave behind soot and odour that must be cleaned right away. The longer it goes uncleaned the harder it is to remove. The first thing you may be tempted to do is grab a bucket of soap and water but if you don't use the proper cleaning methods you run a high risk of making the situation much worse. Get the correct supplies to save yourself a lot of time and money.

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  1. Open all of the windows and doors for as long as possible to circulate fresh air. Use electric fans if possible. Take furniture to a safe place to air out as well. Take down all curtains and drapes to wash or send to a dry cleaner.

  2. Sweep up excess soot and debris and remove it from the property. Use a vacuum cleaner to collect what the broom leaves behind on the floors, walls and ceilings. Wipe off all non-machine washable items such as lamps, ceiling fans, walls and ceilings with a dry chemical sponge. This will prevent the soot from spreading.

  3. Launder all machine washable fabrics with a low phosphate detergent. Add bleach to the white loads. For heavy fabrics such as small rugs and drapes add the recommended amount of professional smoke wash to the water.

  4. Hire a professional to clean your carpets and furniture. If this is not possible, vacuum the items thoroughly and use water-based cleaners as a last resort. For the most heavily soiled areas, create a mixture of alcohol, mild dish detergent and water in equal parts and apply to the carpet or fabric. Use a sponge to wipe the area clean.

  5. Place odour controlling blocks throughout the house after all of the cleaning is complete. Change the filters on your central heating and air unit. When repainting walls, use a sealer first to prevent any remaining odour or stains from bleeding through the new paint.

  6. Tip

    Professional smoke wash, dry chemical sponges and odour controlling blocks can be purchased at most hardware stores or ordered online. Always wear rubber gloves when cleaning to prevent chemical burns that even the mildest cleanser can cause.


    Always follow the manufacturer's product instructions completely.

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Things You'll Need

  • Broom
  • Vacuum
  • Low phosphate washing powder
  • Bleach
  • Dry chemical sponges
  • Professional smoke wash
  • Odour control blocks
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Mild dish detergent
  • Electric fans
  • Filters for central air unit

About the Author

Yvonne Ward

Yvonne Ward began her professional writing career in 2004. She wrote a true-crime book published in 2010 and has two more underway. She also has a strong background in business, education and farm living. Ward is pursuing a Master of Arts in history and culture from Union Institute and University.

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