A house fire is devastating. It destroys everything in its path–structural materials, appliances, and precious household items are no match for a blazing fire. Worst of all, there’s not only damage from the fire itself but the aftermath. After a fire, you have to deal with water damage, smoke levels, soot pollution, and smoke odor.
Smoke damage is a consequence that most people overlook. The smoke odor lingers for weeks and even months, reducing the air quality and posing a health hazard for the building’s occupants.
Fire smoke is not an easy smell to get rid of, however. You may try some scented candles or cleaning products, but the problem is deeper than that. Tiny smoke particles cling to almost every single surface in the home. You have to get creative for effective odor removal. Here are the best ways to get fire smoke smell out of a house.
Step 1 – Assess the Damage
Before attempting to remove smoke smell from your house, you’ll need to assess the fire and smoke damage. Even if it were just a small grease fire, the smoke smell would linger because smoke particles get absorbed into porous materials and objects.
When assessing the potential damage caused by the fire, consider the following:
- How big was the fire? A more significant fire will burn more materials and create a more substantial amount of smoke.
- How long did the fire last before being extinguished? More prolonged exposure means that the smoke had more time to absorb deeply into furniture and surfaces.
- How big was the room/house where the fire occurred? Small homes will retain more smoke smell due to the small area; the odor will be in higher concentrations in smaller rooms or homes.
- What materials did the fire damage and burn? The kind of material burned in the fire can affect the smell.
Once you’ve assessed the fire’s damage and ensured you have the appropriate materials to proceed, you can start tackling the process of odor removal.
Step 2 – Air Out the House
The first thing you should do to eliminate the smoke smell after a house fire is to circulate fresh air. Turn off your air conditioning to prevent the same smokey air from circulating throughout the house. You also want to gather several fans to place strategically in doors and windows. Open every door and window you can, and let the house air out for a few hours.
If the smell of the smoke is overpowering and persistent, you can blow out each room of the house with some positive pressure. Follow these steps:
- Open the front door to let in the fresh air and set up a large fan facing into the house.
- Close all but one window or door in the room where you are working.
- Turn on the fan to the highest speed to force the smokey air out the door. This method will force fresh air into the room through the window via an exhaust fan.
- Blow the area for at least fifteen minutes.
- When you’ve finished, close the window and door to that room and repeat the process for each additional room until you have adequately aired the house.
This process will likely help the odor start to dissipate, but it will not remove smoke smell altogether. The only way to remove smoke smell entirely is to clean every item and household surface in the home.
Step 3 – Clean All Surfaces and Household Items
By airing out the house, you’ll notice the smoke odor starting to disappear. However, without deep-cleaning the house, the smoke particles will stay, and the smoke smell will linger.
- Remove curtains, area rugs, furniture covers, blankets, decorative pillows, and anything else made of fabric and wash them thoroughly. Make sure to store these items outside of the house until the smoke odor is completely gone (otherwise they might soak up the smell again).
- Wash windows, screens, and shades to remove soot and ash, which cause the smoke odor. Pay particular attention to the blinds, as smoke residue sticks to these more than glass. You can use a white vinegar solution and warm water and scrub the blinds to remove smoke smell. Remember to wash your window screens as well!
- Wash solid surfaces with a cleaning solution of dish soap, white vinegar, and water. You should tackle all surfaces, including the walls, ceilings, doors, cabinets, shelves, furniture, light fixtures, and any other surface that could have smoke particles. Use the same mixture of dish soap, vinegar, and water to mop wood, tile, or vinyl flooring. Remember to clean the mop with fresh water between each pass, so the smoke particles don’t get into the mop bucket.
- Clean carpets and furniture upholstery; sprinkle baking soda, and let it sit for about a day. The baking soda will absorb odors, and you can vacuum the leftover substance. You can also steam clean carpets for better results, but delicate materials like leather or silk should go to a professional cleaner. You may be better off contacting a professional cleaning service for these more delicate surfaces.
- Clean your HVAC system to make sure the smoke particles aren’t lingering in the ventilation system. Change all air filters and furnace filters as soon as you can. Contact your HVAC maintenance company to ensure it has no damage after the fire.
If the smoke smell is still strong even after your deep-cleaning, you might need to replace the object causing the smell. Furniture is notorious for holding on to smoke odors, as well as blinds and carpet.
Step 4 – Repaint the Walls
The last thing you’ll need to do to get smoke odors out of your house is to repaint the walls. You may not know it, but paint absorbs odors. If it’s the paint that retains the smoke odor, repainting the walls is the best course of action.
- Wash your walls with a cleaning solution that has ammonia or glycol. Both of these substances are great at neutralizing odors. After cleaning, make sure you rinse the walls thoroughly and let them dry before proceeding to the next step.
- Apply an odor-locking primer to the wall. You can find these at any home improvement store. These kinds of primers have a unique formula that kills difficult odors (not just fire smoke but also pet urine, food, and cigarette and cigar smoke). Allow the primer to dry before the next step.
- Paint over the primer with latex paint to seal everything. Allow drying entirely before hanging anything on the wall or putting furniture back into place.
Fire may be a devastating event to happen to your home, but cleaning up and repainting your walls can remove smoke odors and restore a sense of control.
Fires are devastating and terrifying. Once the fire is out, and you’ve ensured everyone is safe, you could be facing a long and challenging road to get your home back to its original state. Fires can cause extreme structural damage as well as destroy your furniture and personal items. Almost every material in the home holds onto smoke odor, making it very difficult to eliminate.
By taking these steps, you can start odor removal to get rid of the fire smoke smell in your home. If the smell persists, the best way to make sure all of the smoke odors disappear is to contact experts from IDC Repair and Restoration. We can effectively eliminate the smell of smoke using our advanced equipment such as air scrubbers and ozone generators. Once we are through deodorizing your home, you’ll forget that the fire ever happened!