How to Clean Up Minor Smoke Damage

There’s a lot to think about after you’ve just faced a home fire. Besides soot, and the chemicals or water used to put out the fire, how to handle smoke damage is a major concern, and one of the things you should take care of first.

After you get the ok from your local fire department or fire marshal and have checked with your insurance company, you can begin to focus on cleaning up. Doing the cleanup yourself won’t be easy, but there is a lot of it you can do on your own. However, when dealing with smoke damage, it is best to leave the cleanup process to professionals. Taking care of smoke damage is pretty tricky because the damage done by smoke is done at a molecular level. A restoration company will evaluate your home, and the work necessary to restore your home to its original state of comfort and safety.  

If your smoke damage is minor, there are a few at-home approaches you can try:

  • Air the Premises
    Open all doors and windows to ensure good ventilation and allow plenty of fresh air inside (don’t forget to remove the screens for better airflow.) It’s a good idea to place fans strategically throughout the home for added effect – point them in corners of the rooms or towards doorways and windows to “push” smells out of the house.
  • Remove all curtains, area rugs, furniture covers, decorative cushions, duvets, blankets and any other fabric materials from the affected areas and have them washed or dry cleaned
  • Wash the windows, window screens, and window shades
    Wash the windowpanes to restore their transparency and shine, but pay greater attention to the window frames and sills, as well as to the blinds (smoke residue sticks mainly to them, not to the glass). Use a solution of white vinegar and hot water to scrub plastic blinds and specialized wood-friendly products to clean wooden blinds. Make sure you wash all window screens as well. Place them in a tub or washbasin and use dish soap or shampoo to clean the mesh. Rinse the screens thoroughly with cool water and let them dry in fresh air. If you have used an exhaust fan to air out your home, wash the filter in the same way.
  • Wash all solid surfaces with a solution of dish soap, white vinegar, and warm water
    Wipe walls and ceilings, doors and doorframes, baseboards, cabinets (both inside and out), shelves, furniture pieces, and any other surfaces where smoke particles might have settled. Don’t forget to clean light fixtures and light switches as well. Use the same cleaning solution to mop all uncarpeted floors. Just make sure you rinse the mop under running water after each run. Otherwise, the smoke particles will just float around in the mop bucket and end up back on the floor.

Smoke damage from fires isn’t the only thing that can cause smoke damage. The smell that lingers after lighting up a cigarette in your car or home is technically a form of smoke damage. Whether you’re trying to sell or buy a car or home with smoke damage, you need to get the help of a professional to get rid of such a stubborn odor.