How To Restore Smoke Damaged Furniture

Smoke Damage Restoration

If your home or business has ever had a fire, then you know there can often be irreparable damage. However, depending of course on the severity of the fire, oftentimes some wooden furniture pieces can be restored! Perhaps you have an antique dresser, a lovely dining room table and chairs, or another piece of wood furniture that took on a bit of damage from the fire. Or what if the piece is fabric or leather? Is it possible to get soot particles out of a fabric chair? Maybe the damage is noticeable, but not bad enough to make you want to scrap the piece entirely. What do you do? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get your smoke-damaged wood furniture back in business!


How To Clean Smoke Damage From Wood

For Finished Wood Pieces:

  1. Clean up any dry soot that remains on the piece. If the soot is minimal, this can be done using a duster or vacuum hose. If using a duster, try to keep the soot as contained as possible, or carefully take the piece outside. A chemical cleaning sponge like this one may also be used, but be careful here, as too much force here can embed the soot particles into the wood.
  2. Purchase Restor-a-Finish or a similar product. Be sure to match the color of the product to that of your wood. This solution both removes damage, and conditions the wood. Pour some of the solution on a rag – never directly onto your furniture – and begin wiping down the piece of furniture, from top to bottom. Move the rag with and into the grain if possible, or in small, circular motions.
  3. If need be, pour some of the solution onto a steel wool pad or similar product, and scrub the piece of furniture. Try not to scrub too hard so as to not take the finish itself off. Once again, work in the direction of the grain as much as possible.
  4. After you’ve let the products sit for several minutes, wipe down the chair with a damp rag.
  5. Next, pour some beeswax onto the steel wool pad and go over the piece of furniture. Let the beeswax sit for about 20 minutes, and then wipe the wooden piece down once again. Hopefully, it’s as good as new!

For Unfinished Wood Pieces:

  1. Start with a thorough cleaning: Begin by removing any loose soot or debris from the surface of the wood. You can use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment or a soft brush to gently sweep away the soot. Be careful not to push the soot deeper into the wood’s pores.
  2. Use a mild detergent: Mix a solution of mild detergent and warm water. Using a soft cloth or sponge, gently clean the smoke-damaged area, making sure to work with the grain of the wood. Avoid soaking the wood, as this can cause further damage.
  3. Rinse and dry: After cleaning the area, use a clean cloth or sponge dampened with clean water to remove any soap residue. Pat the surface dry with a clean, soft towel.
  4. Sand the surface: Once the wood is completely dry, lightly sand the surface with fine-grit sandpaper (around 220 grit) to remove any remaining soot particles and smooth out any rough spots. Always sand with the grain of the wood to avoid scratches.
  5. Apply a wood conditioner: To help restore the wood’s natural beauty and protect it from future damage, apply a wood conditioner according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will also help prepare the wood for staining or sealing if desired.
  6. Stain or seal the wood: Depending on the finish you prefer, apply a wood stain or sealant to the surface. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and allow the product to dry completely before using the furniture.
  7. Regular maintenance: To keep your wood furniture looking its best, clean it regularly with a mild detergent and water solution, and apply a wood conditioner or sealant as needed.


  • Always test cleaning products and methods on a small, inconspicuous area of the wood before applying them to the entire piece. This will help you avoid any unexpected damage or discoloration.
  • Wear gloves and a mask while cleaning smoke-damaged wood to protect yourself from harmful particles and chemicals.
  • If the smoke damage is extensive or the wood is particularly valuable, consider consulting with a professional restoration expert for advice or assistance.

By following these steps and precautions, you can effectively clean smoke damage from wood surfaces and restore your furniture’s appearance and functionality. With the proper care and attention, your wood furniture can be enjoyed for many years to come.

How To Clean Smoke From Furniture

For Fabric-Covered Pieces:

  1. Use the flat brush attachment on your vacuum to vacuum up any remaining soot residue. If your vacuum doesn’t have one of these attachments, ask to borrow one from a friend or neighbor.
  2. Sprinkle baking soda onto the piece and let sit for 24 hours.
  3. Vacuum the baking soda up, and repeat Step 2.
  4. Vacuum up the second sprinkling of baking soda.
  5. Take off any removable covers and wash. Cold water is best! Also, use a detergent specially designed to help get rid of odors, such as smoke. This one is a good option! You can also add a cup of vinegar if desired.
  6. While using the dryer to dry the removable covers works, air-drying outside may aide in removing any leftover odors.
  7. If these suggestions don’t do the trick, reupholstery is a second option to salvage the piece if desired.

For Leather Pieces:

  1. Use the flat brush attachment on your vacuum (or borrow a friend’s) to clean up soot residue, but don’t put it directly onto the furniture. Instead, hold it just barely above the surface. This helps to protect the leather from scratches.
  2. Pour some leather cleaner onto a soft rag and wipe the surface. Again, be gentle so as to not scratch the surface of the leather.
  3. Mix equal parts vinegar and water and lightly dab the leather surface. This helps to deodorize the smoke smell. Then, use a soft, damp rag to wipe clean.
  4. If the smoke smell remains, sprinkle baking soda and let it sit overnight. Then vacuum it up (like in Step 1).
  5. If the leather needs to be steam-cleaned, contact Elite Restoration for help or tips. If not done properly, steam cleaning leather can cause irreparable damage to the furniture.