House fires are one of the most catastrophic accidents. They can result in severe health problems and property damage, including knick-knacks, destroying the memories you and your loved ones had in that home.
Home restoration after a fire requires thorough cleanup to repair smoke damage.
Here’s a comprehensive guide to smoke damage cleanup.
Entering your house the first time after a fire can be shocking. There’s likely be soot everywhere, and you might feel overwhelmed.
The first step is to go through everything and see what items, clothing, appliances, and furniture are salvageable. Though difficult, you need to brace yourself as you may have to dispose of many meaningful items.
Once you declutter, inspect every nook and cranny to determine the extent of the smoke damage. Remember to examine the ceilings as you check the walls—things to look out for are discolored paint and blackened spaces.
What You’ll Need to Clean Smoke Damage
- Smoke vacuum
- Rubber gloves
- Dish soap
- Carpet shampoo
- Hot water
- Spray bottle
- Masks and goggles
- Chemical or dry-cleaning sponge
- Smoke damage removers, e.g., soot cleaner, vinegar, bleach, and paint thinner
- Microfiber cloths
- Paper Towels
- Baking soda
- Wood polish
- Fabric deodorizer
- Laundry detergent and softener
Most people assume that you can’t clean smoke damage. However, the extent of damage and the type of surface, whether porous or not, determines whether it is possible. Ensure there’s proper air circulation in all rooms.
Plus, keep pets away and make sure every household member puts on their protective equipment before cleanup begins. Take the smoke vacuum cleaner and run it gently over the affected areas to avoid spreading the soot around.
Vacuum the walls to eliminate large soot particles. Cleanup will involve three stages. First, you’ll take the chemical sponge and scrub the smoke-damaged area.
Ensure you keep switching to new sponges if you notice the one in use has blackened. Next, bring in hot water and rags and begin wiping down.
You can use a commercial soot remover or an everyday household product like vinegar. Finally, you will go over the walls with a degreaser, then wipe it off with a clean rag and hot water.
Be sure to:
- To wipe from top to bottom to avoid streaks
- To clean small areas at a time
- Dry the walls entirely if you have wallpaper
Cleaning smoke damage off windows is more straightforward. Take a spray bottle and fill it with vinegar solution. This cleaner works perfectly for cigarette smoke because it breaks down nicotine.
Spritz the affected area and wipe it down using a clean microfiber cloth. Alternatively, you could use the commercial smoke damage cleaner and finish up with a degreaser before rinsing the windows.
The cleanup process for glass items is similar to windows. Use a soot remover and wipe off stains with a clean cloth or paper towel.
Also, you can use an ammonia-free glass cleaner afterward or a vinegar solution to prevent water stains.
Again, ceiling cleanup is similar to the process mentioned above. Be sure to do it in small sections. Also, it will help to get every adult family member involved as this area is more challenging to clean.
Dish soap and sponge work perfectly for hard flooring. Scrub gently and wipe down immediately to prevent water damage.
If you have carpets, start by running the smoke vacuum. Next, use a shampoo cleaner and brush to eliminate soot stains. We recommend calling cleaning professionals for extensive smoke damage.
Pour baking soda all over the upholstery and wait for 24 hours before running your vacuum cleaner. Next, wash all removable covers in cold water and leave them outside to dry before spraying a deodorizer to eliminate the smoke odor.
If you have damaged wood furniture, use the flat brush attachment and vacuum to eliminate soot.
Take a clean chemical sponge and wipe it down gently, taking care not to scratch the wood. Next, wipe using a damp cloth and let the furniture dry completely. Finally, apply wood polish to restore its luster.
Smoke damage is not always large-scale. In some cases, the fire may have only damaged your possessions. When it comes to the cleanup of such items, ensure to practice the following.
- Safety. Get a smoke damage repair company to inspect and confirm that your home is safe for entry.
- Sort out items and discard those that are beyond restoration.
- Take inventory of damaged items as it will come in handy when filing an insurance claim
- Consider using Trisodium Phosphate (or TSP) for stubborn areas. All you need is to mix a gallon of water with one tablespoon of TSP. Also, ensure you have your PPE and allow enough time for the area to dry completely.
Soot damage on your favorite clothing can be a bummer and a health hazard.
First, place the garments in the washer on the highest setting suitable for that fabric type. Add fabric softener for the rinse cycle.
Put them out to dry under the sun to remove the smoke damage odor. Consider taking them to your local dry cleaner if the smell persists.
Any book that survives a fire will have a smoke odor. Fortunately, you can eliminate this smell using baking soda. You need to place the books in a large bag and add ½ cup of baking soda before sealing and letting it sit for eight hours.
This method provides the fastest results. However, if you don’t have baking soda nearby, you could air dry these books. Remember, this will take longer, especially during the rainy season.
After a fire, your entire house will smell like smoke. A few ways to remove smoke odor from your home include:
- Wipe down surfaces using a vinegar solutions
- Put baking soda or activated charcoal in a bowl and set it in different areas of your house to absorb the smell
- Place diffusers, incense, and other odor removers in each room
- Ozone treatment. Ozone generators work by disintegrating smoke molecules and are especially good for removing cigarette smoke odor
We hope you follow these tips to help your home look closer to the way it was before the fire. After cleanup, you may need to repaint or rebuild areas with extensive damage.
Be sure to contact a reputable smoke damage restoration company for full home recovery.