smoke damage home repair

Smoke Damage Cleanup: Act Quickly When Smoke Gets In Your Eyes and House

Smoke damage becomes harder to repair over time. Get rid of odors quickly to avoid a persistent problem.

Once the fire is out, you need to ventilate the house as quickly as possible. Image: Travis S./Flickr

Smoke damage can wreak havoc in your home. Kitchen flare-ups, closed fireplace flues, and electrical fires can send smoke throughout your house, charring walls, covering everything, and stinking up the place. The longer you let smoke and odors linger, the more they soak into walls, carpets, and furniture. So get to work, but not without gloves, eye protection, a facemask, and a respirator to keep smoke particles off your skin and out of your lungs.

Ventilate and vacuum

Once the fire’s out or the flue is open, ventilate the house as quickly as possible to mitigate smoke damage.

  • Throw open doors and windows.
  • Rent a few industrial fans ($25 for 24 hours) and angle them towards the windows and doors. This will help suck smoky air from the home.
  • Vacuum soot and ash with a shop vac ($30). Hold the nozzle just above the soot and suck it up—pushing down could cause stains.

Deep clean

Throw away heavily damaged or heavily smoked items, and start cleaning the house top to bottom.

  • Wipe down all hard surfaces—countertops, appliances, and furniture—with a cleaning cloth.
  • Wash walls and ceilings. Wipe soot away with a dry sponge. Rub away stubborn stains with a vinegar spray. If you need more muscle, use paint thinner (open windows for ventilation).
  • Wash or clean all household items, even light bulbs. Remove bulbs to wash and dry thoroughly, then reinstall.
  • Wash or dry-clean all clothing and drapes.
  • Deodorize carpets and window coverings with odor counteractants such as OdorX 9-D-9 ($68 for 1 gallon) or No Smoke Odor Counteractant ($59 for 32 ounces).
  • Throw away all food that was not sealed in airtight containers.
  • Replace all HVAC filters.

Call the professionals

If you’ve had extensive smoke damage, professionals can help you clean up and get rid of smoke odor.

Smoke or fire remediation company: Certified by the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration, these companies use ozone treatments or thermal fogging to eliminate smells in hard-to-reach areas. Ozone treatments use an ozone generator to send an electrical current through the oxygen, which attacks the smoky odor ($125/day for 2,500 sq. ft.). Thermal fogging works at the molecular level and generates fine particles to infiltrate the pores of affected materials ($125/day for 2,500 sq. ft.).

Professional duct cleaning company: Vacuum-scrubs ducts to clear soot and smoke residue ($450 to $1,000).

Carpet cleaning company: Steam cleans your carpets ($100-$200 for 900 sq. ft).