A fire is one of the most stressful and devastating disasters a property owner can go through. It can cause extensive damage in every nook and cranny of your house or building which calls for the assistance of experienced specialists to restore. In addition to disposing of or repairing items that are burnt, covered by soot or damaged by water due to firefighting efforts, there is also the concern of how to get smoke odors out of your home. The smell of soot or smoke can linger for quite some time after a fire has been doused — whether from a small cooking fire, a full-blown house fire or the effects of a wildfire — causing unwanted discomfort and health hazards for the residents.

Factors That Affect Smoke Odor Removal

In this article, Kingdom Restoration, a leading restoration and bathroom remodeling specialist in South Florida, discusses the factors that affect smoke smell removal, the harmful effects of smoke and how to clear a smoke smell out of your home.

Factors That Affect the Removal of Smoke Smell After a Fire

While removing the extreme, suffocating smell of smoke that lingers after a fire can seem pretty straightforward, the amount of time needed to extinguish it can depend on several factors. These include:

  • Soot. A black-colored substance produced by the incomplete burning of an organic matter, soot can appear in two forms: dry and oily. Dry soot is less difficult to clean and can be managed with the use of a sponge and a low-alkaline detergent. Oily soot requires the use of specialized cleaning techniques and equipment to be efficiently removed from your living space. Get help from professionals when dealing with soot to make sure that your home and other personal belongings are not damaged.

  • Materials. A fire can consume a broad range of items sitting in your home, and these materials react differently to soot and smoke molecules. For example, common porous hard-surface things like drywall, paint, wallpaper and wood can become heavily discolored and permanently stained if not treated rapidly. On the other hand, metallic surfaces like window installation frames, kettles and knives have the tendency to rust and corrode with acidic soot after a fire. It is also important to exercise caution when cleaning your furniture. Even cleaning chemicals may seep into your carpet as it dries, carrying smoke molecules that can cause long-lasting blotches.

  • Time. The longer you wait to bring in professional cleaning and restoration services, the worse smoke damage will get. Even if the disfigurement seems minimal, materials throughout your living space can start to discolor, rust or corrode due to smoke particles and acidic soot. You can dramatically reduce the need for more expensive care in the future by attending to the initial problems immediately.

  • Size of the fire. As expected, a more far-reaching fire can inflict more damage than a smaller fire. A larger fire will in turn lead to more potential smoke-related damage such as pungent odors that cling to walls, floors, furniture, clothes and other items throughout the space.

  • Size of the fire-damaged area. If the affected area is small-scale, the time and amount of effort required from a home innovations contractor to clear out smoke smells will be less compared to a large building with numerous rooms.

The Harmful Effects of Smoke Smell After a Fire

Smoke released by a fire can infiltrate all areas of the home and leave behind harmful effects. Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate matter that smoke contains can seep into furniture, carpeting, beddings, draperies, books and other woodwork. Getting rid of fire smoke from a living space is often a time-consuming and meticulous process. It requires the help of professionals who possess years of experience, have access to specialized equipment as well as have the ability to work safely without causing further damage to a home.

There are times when homeowners will attempt to dissipate the smell of smoke using spray deodorizers and even scented candles. But the problem is that these tricks will only mask the strong odor of smoke and fail to remove smoke molecules embedded into fibers, fabrics and other porous surfaces. Your items need to be deep-cleaned properly in order to completely remove the smoke from your home.

Tips for Removing Smoke Smell After a Fire

Some items affected by smoke may only require simple airing to remove the smell of smoke, but other items such as rugs, curtains, clothing and so on need thorough cleaning and possible sanitization. Here are essential steps you can take to effectively eliminate smoke odors and smoke-related damage from your home:

  • Air out your home. You can start to mitigate the smoke smell by airing out your house. The thing you should do is open the windows or doors of your residence to let the smoke smell escape and allow cool, fresh air to come in. According to home innovations specialists, you can also use positive pressure to blow out individual rooms and minimize the chances of smoke-filled air circulating back in. Set up a large fan in the doorway facing in. Turn it on and open one window to serve as an exhaust. This technique will force fresh air into the room and filter out the smell of smoke.

  • Remove curtains and drapes. Remove all fabric items from your home and have them deep-cleaned. If you have window treatments like curtains or drapes, take them down and hang them outside to help air out the smell of smoke. They will likely need to be dry cleaned to completely remove the smell. If there is oily soot clinging onto the fabric, do not use the washing machine as it can cause clogging problems after the wash cycle.

  • Clean carpet and upholstery. If your carpeting and upholstery have absorbed smoke odors, you can treat them with baking soda. Dust baking soda over the affected areas and let it sit for a minimum of three hours. Vacuum the carpet and upholstery to draw out the baking soda. It is recommended to use a vacuum with HEPA filter in order to keep the smoke odors contained. It is crucial to keep wooden furniture affected by smoke damage away from the carpet when cleaning. This is to prevent the cleaning solution from leaking and causing stains.

  • Wash solid surfaces. You need to wipe down all solid surfaces such as doors, baseboards, window installation frames and sills, tile floors, shelves, cabinets and drawers with a mild detergent and water. You may also create a cleaning solution using a gallon of water, a quarter cup of vinegar and one teaspoon of dish soap. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray all hard-surface items. Wipe these surfaces with a clean cloth and make sure to clean the rag after every use.

  • Mop hard floors. Smoke particles that linger in the air will eventually fall onto the floor. It is essential to sweep and mop the entire floor several times to get rid of the off-white or black powdery remnants of smoke. It is better to rinse the mop under running water instead of drenching it in a mop bucket as you work. This is to ensure that all smoke particles will be removed from the mop.

Let Professionals Restore Your Fire-Damaged Home

Kingdom Restoration is a premier source of home remodeling and restoration solutions in all of South Florida. From fire restoration and smoke odor removal to bathroom remodeling and deck construction, our certified professionals are committed to creating beautiful and functional spaces through industry-leading products and excellent customer service. Call us today at (941) 263-8715 or fill out our contact form to set up an appointment or request a free, no-obligation estimate.