After a Fire: How to Remove the Smoke Smell from Your House

A living room with a couch and burnt walls and curtain

If you’ve had a fire in or near your house, the smell of smoke can remain long after the fire’s been put out. You may think it will go away after a few days, or that opening a window will help, but the truth is the smell will only go away after a thorough cleaning.

The first thing to do if you’ve had a fire or suffered smoke damage is to contact your insurance company. They’ll explain your coverage in detail and can help you determine who to contact for any smoke restoration repairs you may need. Then, you’ll need to make sure that your home is safe to enter. After that, the cleanup can begin.

It’s best to hire a professional if you’ve got extensive structural damage or if it isn’t safe in your home. But if odor is the only thing you’re dealing with, here are some ways you can get rid of the stench.

How to Remove the Smoke Smell from Your House

First, let’s start with what not to do. Don’t use candles or air fresheners to deal with the odor. These products only mask it. The only way to truly remove it is to clean the affected area completely.

  1. Start with washing down all surfaces in your home. Use mild soap and water or other recommended cleaners, depending on the surface. Be sure to clean walls, windows, counters, floors, cabinets, drawers, closets and knickknacks.
  2. Next, you’ll want to deodorize and disinfect softer surfaces that may have absorbed it. Use steam cleaners or other equipment to clean your carpets, furniture, fabrics and mattresses. Sprinkling the fabric with baking soda may help, but if the odor set, you may have to replace these items.
  3. Hire a professional to clean your HVAC system and ductwork. They’ll need to clean all the equipment and ducts, removing traces of soot, ash and smoke residue.
  4. Change your air filters immediately after a fire. Then, change them regularly, at least monthly, for the next year.
  5. If there is fire retardant or foam residue in your home, clean it using a mild detergent followed by a thorough rinsing. Powerful flame retardants like Phos-Chek shouldn’t be power-washed off of homes, but gently rinsed off.
  6. Make sure you clean the exterior of your home. Wash down exterior walls and clean up as much ash as you can. Remember that roof damage and structural damage requires professionals.

More Tips for Smoke Odor Removal

Once you’ve completed the major cleanup, there’re several things you can do to get rid of the last remnants of smoke odor:

  • Use vinegar to help cut through the odor by wiping down hard surfaces such as walls, floors, and furniture. Placing bowls of vinegar around your house will help absorb the odor as well. Leave them out for several days for best results. Vinegar can also be used to remove the stench from clothing. Add 1 cup of vinegar to each load of laundry, along with your usual detergent. You may need to wash clothes several times in order to completely remove it. Don’t run them through the dryer until it is gone, as the odor can be locked in once the clothes are dry.
  • Sprinkle baking soda on furniture, floors and other areas of the home. You can also leave bowls of baking soda in your home for several days to help absorb more odor.
  • Odor-reducing products, such as Febreze, are useful in absorbing odors. They use a chemical to help absorb bad odors.
  • You can also place bowls of activated charcoal in powder form around your house to help absorb odors.
  • If the weather allows it, leave your windows and doors open to allow fresh air in to help dissipate the odor.
  • Finally, you can use an ozone generator to help reduce or eliminate odors. However, they’re expensive and won’t remove the odor completely if it has permeated carpets, draperies and furnishings.

When to Call a Professional

Minor odor removal can be easily handled with a good cleaning and the use of odor-absorbing materials, like vinegar or baking soda. Make sure you clean all areas in your home as thoroughly as possible. Smoke particles can hide in the smallest places.

If your whole house has been affected by smoke damage, it may be advisable to hire a professional to help with the cleaning. Professional smoke remediation companies have the equipment needed to filter the air as well as know how best to clean all the surfaces in your home.

If you need help with professional smoke smell removal, contact Metrolina Restoration today.

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