How to Get Rid of the Smell of Smoke After a Fire
A fire is one of the worst things that can happen to a home. Not only does it destroy building materials and household items quickly and in a way that can’t be fixed, but it also causes a number of other dangers (possible water damage due to the fire- fighting efforts, harmful soot pollution, unhealthy smoke levels, etc.). Even if the fire was small and contained, the fire’s byproducts can continue to damage the property and put the residents’ safety at risk for a long time after the flames have gone out.
One of the most common bad effects of a fire is a smoke smell that doesn’t go away. This smell can stay in a home for a long time, lowering the quality of the air inside and putting people’s health at risk. So, if you have a house fire or a nearby wildfire that sends smoke into your home, you need to do everything you can to get rid of the smell of smoke quickly and effectively.
Smoke Odor Removal Tips
It’s not easy to get rid of the smell of smoke. When fire smoke gets into a home, the small smoke particles stick to all surfaces and get into porous things like carpeting, furniture, fabrics, books, and even paint. It takes a lot of work and, most of the time, special cleaning tools to get rid of them.
There are a few effective things you can do to greatly reduce the amount of smoke in an area, but whether or not they will be enough to make your home safe and fresh again depends on a number of things:
Size of the fire: Since bigger fires make more smoke, the smell of smoke will be stronger and more pervasive;
Length of exposure: The longer an area has been around smoke, the deeper the smell of smoke will be in the house’s materials.
Types of burned things: When different things are burned, they smell different. Some are easier to get rid of, while others are very hard to remove (such as the smell from burning synthetic or plastic materials, for example).
So, to get rid of the smell of smoke after a fire, you should try all of the tried-and-true do-it-yourself methods and see if they work. If not, or if you don’t have the time or energy to do it yourself, your only option is to call smoke odor removal services.
Here are some ways to get rid of the smell of smoke in your house after a fire.
Air Out the Place
The first step is to let the house air out. Open all the doors and windows to let in a lot of fresh air and make sure there is good ventilation. Don’t forget to take off the screens to help the air flow better. For extra effect, it’s a good idea to put fans in key spots around the house, like in the corners of rooms or near doorways and windows. This will “push” smells out of the house.
Keep in mind, though, that if the smoke smell is strong and pervasive, opening the windows may not be enough to get rid of the unpleasant smell. You may need to blow out your home with positive pressure:
Open the door to your house or apartment and set up a big fan in front of it, so that it blows air in.
Turn the fan to high speed, close all the other doors and windows, and leave only one window open for ventilation. This will force fresh air into the room through the open window and push out any lingering smoke and smoke smell.
After blowing the area out for at least 15 minutes, close the room’s window and door and open the window in another room.
Repeat the process until all the rooms in your house or apartment have been given fresh air.
The smell of smoke will be lessened by fresh air, but the only way to get rid of it completely is to clean all the items and surfaces in your home that were affected by the smoke.
Clean the House Thoroughly
After a fire, you need to clean every part of your home to get rid of the smell of smoke:
1) Take down all curtains, area rugs, furniture covers, decorative pillows, duvets, blankets, and other fabric items from the affected areas and wash or dry clean them.
Obviously, you also need to wash any clothes, towels, or sheets that have been near smoke. Make sure to keep clean fabrics outside of the house until the smell of smoke is completely gone (otherwise they may soak up the smell again).
2) Clean the windows, screens, and window blinds.
Wash the window panes to make them clear and shiny again, but pay more attention to the window frames, sills, and blinds (smoke residue sticks mainly to them, not to the glass). Use a solution of white vinegar and hot water to scrub blinds made of plastic. For blinds made of wood, use products that are made to be safe for wood.
Make sure you also clean the window screens. Put them in a tub or sink and wash the mesh with dish soap or shampoo. Rinse the screens well with cool water, and then set them outside to dry. If you used an exhaust fan to let fresh air into your home, wash the filter in the same way.
3) Use a mixture of dish soap, white vinegar, and warm water to clean all solid surfaces.
Wipe down the walls and ceilings, the doors and doorframes, the baseboards, the inside and outside of the cabinets, the shelves, the furniture, and any other places where smoke particles might have settled. Also, don’t forget to clean the light fixtures and switches.
Use the same mopping solution on all floors that aren’t carpeted. Just make sure to rinse the mop after each run by running water. If not, the smoke particles will just float around in the mop bucket and end up back on the floor.
Good to know: If you want to get rid of the smell of smoke from furniture, you may need to use cleaning products that are made just for that. Make sure you buy the right cleaner and follow the directions to the letter. If you can, take the cleaned furniture outside on a sunny, windy day to dry (the fresh air will help completely eliminate any persistent smells).
4) Clean the carpets and the furniture.
Because smoke particles get deep into the upholstery and carpet fibers, it’s hard to get rid of the smell of smoke.
Cleaning Carpets in Long Grove, IL
Baking soda has been shown to work well. Just sprinkle some on the upholstery and/or carpet, let it sit for a few hours (or even a whole day) so the soda can absorb the smoke smell, and then vacuum the surfaces. Make sure you use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to keep the smoke particles from blowing back into the room.
Steam cleaning is even more effective, but you have to be very careful with delicate materials like leather upholstery or silk carpets, which can be easily damaged during the cleaning process. It might be best to let the pros handle this job.
In fact, the safest and most effective way to get rid of the smell of smoke from carpets and upholstery after a house fire is to use professional upholstery cleaning services and carpet cleaning services.
5) Clean the air conditioning and heating system
Last but not least, you need to take care of the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system. Smoke can get into the ducts and stay in the ventilation system, making the air in your home less healthy. So, you should change the air conditioning filters (and any other air filters and furnace filters) as soon as possible after the fire and have the HVAC system checked to make sure it didn’t get damaged. To make sure the air quality in your home is good, you may also need to have your air ducts cleaned by a professional. Clean the air ducts
You can also use air purifiers and put bowls of vinegar, ground coffee, or active charcoal around the house to clean the air and get rid of the smell of smoke. But these things only cover up the smell; they can’t get rid of it (using scented candles or spray deodorizers has the same effect).
Remember that if any of your household items are covered in soot, you shouldn’t try to clean them yourself. To keep them from getting worse, it’s best to let a professional take care of them.
If the smell of smoke stays even after you’ve cleaned, you may need to replace some items or materials that have taken in too much smoke smell to be cleaned well (such as blinds, carpets, paint, etc.)
Paint the walls again.
If the smell of smoke stays in the paint, you’ll have to repaint the walls to get rid of the bad smell after a fire.
Use products that have ammonia or glycol in them to clean the walls (both substances are very effective when it comes to neutralizing unpleasant smells). Rinse the walls well and let them dry all the way;
Use a primer that is designed to seal in smells;
To finish the job, use latex paint.
If the problem keeps happening or if you don’t think you can do what was said above to get rid of the smoke smell, you should call a professional.
Use professional services to get rid of smoke smells.
Professionals with the right knowledge and high-tech tools (like nano filters, air scrubbers, ozone generators, hydroxyl technology, etc.) can completely get rid of the smell of smoke after a fire. They will use safe and effective ways to get rid of smells and the right cleaning products to get the best results possible. Your house will smell nice and clean again, and you’ll be able to finally forget about the fire.