DIY Removing Smoke Damage From Wood


House fires are devastating. Cherished family heirlooms, photographs and furniture can become engulfed in flames or suffer severe smoke damage. Smoke from a house fire encompasses a wide range of poisonous gases, such as carbon monoxide, carbon and possibly heavy metal traces. According to the Chicora Foundation, wooden items with smoke damage become covered in acidic film from the smoke, causing discoloration and corrosion. When recovering smoke-damaged wood items, it is important to keep safety in mind.

Things You'll Need

  • Nitrile gloves
  • Face mask
  • Plastic drop sheet
  • Vacuum
  • HEPA filter
  • Cotton swabs
  • Mineral spirits
  • Lint-free cloth
  • Ethyl alcohol
  • Wear nitrile gloves while recovering smoke damaged items. Smoke damage can become worse when the acidic film covering the wood mixes with the oils on the skin. Wear a face mask to avoid breathing in particles.

  • Lay down a plastic drop sheet to protect flooring and other furniture from becoming stained with soot.

  • Place the smoke-damaged wooden piece onto the drop sheet. Insert a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter into the vacuum cleaner where the regular filter would normally be located. HEPA filters will filter 99.97 percent of the hazardous particles left from smoke damage.

  • Vacuum the wood thoroughly to remove the loose soot from the furniture.

  • Soak cotton swabs in mineral spirits and rub the wood, cleaning the entire piece. Once cleaned, buff the area using a lint-free cloth. The Chicora Foundation recommends using diapers to buff the surface.

  • Clean any brass or metal handles or other hardware on the wooden item using cotton swabs soaked in ethyl alcohol.

  • Flush the area with clean air by opening windows or setting the wooden items outside. Make sure to protect the wood from the sun.

Tips & Warnings

  • Place small wooden items in a plastic bag with a small amount of baking soda to help absorb the smoke odor.

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  • Photo Credit the shells of burned building image by Natika from
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