Removing the Smoke Smell of Fire Damage

September 19, 2017

Cleaning up after a fire can be a devastating event when the reality of what has been lost sets in. What does survive the damage of a fire should bring comfort, but when the smoke smell sets in, it’s not easy to rid your belongings of the smoke and soot damage smell.

Smoke damaged fabrics should not go into the washing machine

Try as you might, ridding the smoke smell from fabrics, clothing, and furniture can seem like an impossible task. While this task is one skilled restoration companies are equipped to handle, if you’re not quite ready to leave the smoky smell in the hands of the professionals, put their smoke removal secrets to the test to do it yourself.

Professional Tips for Getting the Smoke Smell Out

There are a variety of tips to remember when removing odor and smoke damage from fabrics and upholstery It may require trial and error, but persistence can help ensure more personal property will not be lost because of the fire’s aftermath.

  1. Act quickly: The longer smoke odor is left to linger on fabric or garments, the harder it can be to make it go away. Restoration efforts should begin immediately to avoid related costs from escalating.
  2. Reduce the odor: Before the cleaning process can begin, start by removing as many items holding the smoke smell as possible. This includes anything that is not salvageable, such as carpet, wallpaper, building materials, and insulation. If items can be cleaned off site (furniture, clothing, linens), remove them from the premises. The less smoke objects holding the smoke smell, the easier it is to rid odors.
  3. Air it out: If weather permits, open the windows and use fans to circulate the air. The ventilation will help to decrease the odor, while also dry out any moisture damage that occurred in the fire extinguishing process.
  4. Remove soot: Soot, or the black particles left behind after a fire, can contain acids and chemicals that can further be of damage to fabrics. Since soot holds odor, the smell removal process must begin by using a heavy duty or industrial vacuum to eliminate the oily residue. Be sure to hold the nozzle above the fabric, carpeting, or drapery to avoid the soot from further staining or destroying the material.
  5. Deodorize textiles: To help break down the smoke molecules causing the odor, fire restorers often rely upon “smoke odor counteractants.” This blend of counteractants, solvents, and detergents is available for purchase. For best results, always follow manufacturer specifications when using.
  6. Dry clean: While not exactly a DIY approach, professional dry cleaners can be a less expensive option to respond to smoke odor cleaning for smaller items than bringing in the larger efforts of a restoration company.
  7. Tent it: Tents aren’t just for camping. When combined with an ozone treatment generator, a tent can help to eliminate odors in items that can’t easily be taken to the dry cleaners, such as couches and large area rugs. The machine can be costly for one time use, but may be a more affordable option to rent or buy in the case of large amounts of cleaning needed.
  8. Get foggy: Another process fire restorers rely on for smoke damage is “thermal fogging.” This deodorizing process uses pressurized force to disperse deodorant droplets in a similar manner to how smoke is spread. Again, this process may be better left to skilled professionals, but with the right equipment, it is something you can do to mitigate the smoke odor problem of larger areas.