How to Get Smoke Smell Out of Your Home


The stench of smoke from an interior fire can transform your comfortable home into a place you can't wait to get out of -- and may not be able to live in. You and your family ingest ash, soot and particle residue when breathing smoke over a period of time -- all of which aggravate respiratory illnesses, such as asthma. It requires a good deal of time and effort to remove smoke odor from a house after a fire. The cleanup must be done in a certain order and in as short a period of time as possible to keep cleaned items from becoming re-contaminated.

Things You'll Need

  • Mild detergent
  • Plastic bags, large
  • Rough sponge
  • Steam-cleaning equipment
  • High-quality air filter
  • Remove all dishes, storage containers, tableware and any other items from all cabinets and drawers. Wash thoroughly in the dishwasher or sink in a mild detergent. Place clean utensils in large plastic bags and seal them so they don’t absorb the smoke residue still in the house.

  • Empty the closets. Dry clean or wash all clothing and store temporarily in large sealed plastic bags.

  • Clean the surface of electronics, knickknacks, computers and printers. This includes lamps, decorations and anything else in the house. Use a solution of warm water and mild detergent. Be careful to clean the screens of electronics according to manufacturer directions. Rinse with a cloth dampened with clean water.

  • Scrub all surfaces of the interior of the home including walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors with the water-and-soap solution and a rough sponge. Do not scrub so vigorously that you remove paint from the drywall. Rinse well.

  • Clean drapes, window treatments and carpeting along with upholstered furniture and mattresses. You can do the cleaning yourself in most cases but may need professional attention when necessary. Each of the items you cleaned must be disinfected and deodorized with steam equipment. Never attempt this process with odor masking treatments.

  • Contact professional companies to scrub and remove soot, ash and lingering smoke residue from air-handling ductwork throughout the house. Use a quality air filter and change monthly.

Tips & Warnings

  • Treat all surfaces in the home with white vinegar when stubborn smoke odors remain. The vinegar odor dissipates in a day or so.
  • Open the windows and doors when possible to create cross-breezes to help remove the smoke odor.
  • Activated charcoal or baking soda may be left out in bowls scattered around the house absorb the smoke odor. Baking soda can also be sprinkled liberally over furniture and carpets then vacuumed off after 24 hours.
  • When smoke odor simply does not dissipate it may be necessary remove and replace it.

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