DIY — Restoring Smoke Damaged Furniture

Smoke damage restoration

If you’ve ever experienced a fire at your home or business, then you know how much damage they can do, even in a short time. While it depends on the severity of the fire, you can often restore furniture yourself as long as it isn’t too badly damaged. Maybe you’ve got a nice leather sofa that you don’t want to throw out, or a fabric recliner that is covered in soot. Even wooden furniture like antique tables and hutches can be restored with the right tools and techniques! If you’re looking to do some DIY smoke restoration on your furniture, here are a few tips and tricks to get you started!


Restoring Smoke Damaged Fabric Furniture:

  1. Begin by vacuuming up any visible soot residue. Use the flat brush attachment on your vacuum if you have one, or borrow one. If you do this first step well, it will make the rest of the steps more effective.
  2. Sprinkle a layer of plain baking soda onto the furniture. Let the baking soda sit for 24 hours to draw out unwanted smells.
  3. Vacuum the baking soda up. Now, repeat step 2 and let the baking soda sit for 24 hours again.
  4. Vacuum up the second round of baking soda.
  5. If there are any removable covers on your article of furniture, remove them and wash them. There are specialty detergents designed to get rid of odors (including smoke!) You can also add a cup of vinegar if desired to help neutralize the smell of smoke. We recommend using cold water for this!
  6. As long as the fabric is safe to go into the dryer, you can dry them this way. However, allowing the covers to air dry outside can help air out any remaining unwanted odors.
  7. If, after all of this, you’re still smelling smoke or seeing stains, consider reupholstering your furniture. It is more costly than a DIY restoration, but usually less expensive than buying new furniture outright. 

Restoring Smoke Damaged Leather Furniture:

  1. Just like with fabric furniture, you should begin by vacuuming up any visible soot residue. Use the flat brush attachment on your vacuum if you have one, or borrow one. Rather than running the brush across the leather, hold it just above the surface (“hover”) to avoid scratching your furniture. Doing this first step well will make the following steps more effective.
  2. Using leather cleaner, wipe down the surface of the furniture gently. Try not to press too hard or scrub so you don’t scratch the surface of the leather!
  3. Mix together equal parts white vinegar and water. Use a clean cloth to dab this mixture onto the leather surface. Doing this will help neutralize the smoke smell. Then, use water and a clean cloth to wipe the surface clean.
  4. If the smell of smoke is still lingering, apply a sprinkling of baking soda to the entire surface and let it sit. This can be anywhere from 12 to 24 hours. Then, vacuum up the baking soda using the same “hover” method as described in step 1.
  5. If the smoke smell remains, sprinkle baking soda and let it sit overnight. Then vacuum it up (like in Step 1).
  6. If these steps don’t work, your leather will need to be steam-cleaned. Contact Elite Restoration for help or tips with this! If done improperly, steam cleaning leather can cause blistering or cracking, leading to irreparable damage.


Restoring Smoke Damaged Wooden Furniture:

  1. Clean any dry soot particles off of the piece of furniture. If there’s only a small amount, you can do this using a dry duster* or a vacuum hose. If you use a duster, make sure to keep the soot as well contained as possible. Try not to stir it up and send it into the air if you can help it! You can also take the furniture outside while you dust it.
  2. You can also use a chemical cleaning sponge to remove visible soot. Whatever method you use, don’t be too forceful! You don’t want to embed the soot particles into the wood.
  3. Use a product like Restor-a-Finish or a similar finish restorer. Try to match the color of the product with the color of your wood. Finish restoration solutions such as this help to remove damage, and provide some conditioning to the wood. Usually you will pour out some solution onto a clean rag. Then, wipe down the piece of wooden furniture you’re working on, moving from top to bottom. Wipe in the same direction of the grain of the wood if possible. Or, move the rag in small circular motions. Follow the instructions for applying the specific solution you purchase carefully. Depending on what you use, the instructions may be different than what is outlined above!
  4. If necessary, pour some of the solution out onto a steel wool pad or similar abrasive product and scrub the furniture gently. Scrubbing too hard might damage the finish, or take it completely off. Once again, work in the direction of the grain as much as possible.
  5. Let the restoration product sit according to the product’s instructions. Then, wipe down the chair with a clean damp rag.
  6. If everything is looking and smelling good, you’re ready to wax! Using steel wool or an abrasive pad, apply some beeswax over the wooden furniture. Allow the wax to sit for about 20 minutes, then wipe the furniture down again. Hopefully by the time you’re done, it will look as good as new!


If you need help managing smoke damage in your home or business, you can always call Elite Restoration for fast and professional service!