Fire Smoke

How to Get Rid of Fire Smoke Smell

Steve VanDenBerg Blog

Fires are terrifying when they occur because they quickly create a very dangerous situation and cause extensive property damage.  Once the fire is out and you have ensured everyone’s safety, you could be facing a long and difficult road ahead to get your property back to its original condition.  Fires cause very serious structural damage, and the byproducts of a fire like smoke and soot can burn and tarnish various surfaces and materials.  After waiting through an extensive fire damage restoration process and getting your home back, the last thing you need is to return to a home with strong smoke odors.

house on fireAnything from a small cooking fire to a full-blown house fire can result in lingering smoke odors.  During a fire, the smoke spreads throughout the home or building, often beyond the areas affected by the fire, and gets absorbed into various materials such as carpeting, furniture, drywall, wood, drapes, clothing, and others.  This is how the smoke odors get trapped in the materials of your home.  This also explains why it is very difficult to remove smoke smell from the house.  In most cases, it is best to have a professional provide deodorization services to eliminate smoke odor.  However, there are some steps you can take to help get rid of the smoke smell in your home.

Assessing the Damage

As mentioned above, smoke odors linger in your home because they get absorbed in porous building materials and objects.  The severity of the smoke odor varies from case to case based on the following factors:

  • Extent of the Fire: Fires that cover a large area of your home burn more materials and produce more smoke. If the fire is small and contained, it will produce less smoke.
  • Exposure Time: Smoke will get absorbed deeper into the affected materials over time which is why you should always begin the fire damage restoration process as soon as possible.
  • Size of the House/ Room: Smaller homes or rooms may have more pungent smoke smells because the odor is more concentrated.
  • Burnt Materials: The materials that were burned by the fire such as wood, plastic, or upholstery can affect the smell.

Smoke Odor Removal Tips

When there is a lingering smoke smell in the home, many homeowners feel the need to light scented candles or use air freshening spray.  These things do not remove smoke smell from the house, they merely mask the smell as the smoke particles penetrate deeper into the affected materials.  The following smoke odor removal tips will help you effectively eliminate smoke odors from your home.

  • Air Out your Home: You can start to eliminate the smoke smell by airing out the home. Open the windows of your home to let out the smoke smell and allow fresh air to come in.  You can also blow out individual rooms in your home with positive pressure.  To do this, set up a large fan in the doorway of the room facing in.  Turn on the fan and open one window for exhaust.  This will force fresh air into the room and push out the smoke odor.
  • Remove Curtains and Drapes: If you have fabric window treatments in your home, take them down and hang them outside to help air out the smoke smell. Your curtains or drapes will likely need dry cleaning to completely eliminate the smell.
  • Wash Solid Surfaces: First, create a cleaning solution that consists of one gallon of water, a quarter cup of white vinegar, and one teaspoon of either shampoo or dish soap. Put some of the solution in an empty spray bottle and spray all solid surfaces including wood surfaces, tile floors, furniture, shelves, baseboards, and window sills.  Wipe these surfaces with a clean rag and make sure to rinse the rag in fresh water.
  • Clean Carpet and Upholstery: If the carpeting and upholstery has absorbed smoke odors, you can treat them with baking soda. Sprinkle baking soda over the entire affected area and let it sit for at least 3 hours and absorb the odors.  Then, vacuum the carpet or furniture to remove the baking soda.  It is best to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to keep the baking soda and smoke odors contained.
  • Wash Window Screens: If a decent amount of smoke escaped your home through the windows, it is a good idea to wash the screens. Remove the screens from the window and put them in a bathtub.  Fill the tub with water and use either shampoo or dish soap to clean the screens.  Use cool water to rinse them.
  • Clean Light Fixtures: There is often soot from the smoke on light fixtures because the smoke rises during the fire, and then settles again when the fire is out. Make sure you remove your light fixtures to clean them thoroughly and put them back when finished.
  • Mop Hard Floors: The smoke odor particles fall from the air over time and onto the floor. You must mop the entire hard surface floor several times to effectively remove the smoke particles.  Make sure you rinse your mop under fresh running water as you work instead of rinsing in a mop bucket to ensure that the smoke particles are removed.
  • Use Vinegar: If the smoke smell is still lingering in certain areas, put a bowl of white vinegar in the room to absorb the odor. Let the vinegar sit in the room until it has evaporated.

When To Call a Fire Restoration Professional

Smoke odor is a pungent, stubborn odor that can make your home very uncomfortable and unpleasant.  If you have a lingering smoke odor in your home from a fire, follow the steps outlined above to help eliminate the smoke odor.  If the odor still lingers despite your best efforts, then contact a professional like ServiceMaster Disaster Restoration and Recovery to effectively get rid of the smoke smell.  We provide complete fire damage restoration services that include deodorization.