A fire in your house can be devastating, and even if you are successful in saving your home, the stains and smell from smoke leave a lot of damage in their wake that must be dealt with. There are many ways to take care of smoke damage, depending on its severity. Cleaning up the smoke stains and eliminating the smell from the walls, fixtures and clothing are among your first priorities.
Remove Surface Damage
When a fire burns, the smoke isn't confined to the area where the fire was. The damage from the smoke could be in another room or even throughout the entire house. According to Creativehomemaking.com, the best way to get rid of the unsightly stains is to use trisodium phosphate (TSP). TSP or TSP alternatives are harsh and irritating to the skin, so be sure to wear rubber gloves when dealing with the substance. It will act like bleach and should be dissolved in warm water. Usually 1 tbsp. to 1 gallon of water should work. Use a sponge and be careful not to soak too much water on sheetrock walls. Vinegar and water may also be used to clean walls and fixtures and will help to remove the smoke odor as well.
Remove Smoke Odor
Using an orange or other citrus-scented disinfectant will work for getting the smoke odor out. Wipe down walls, countertops, sinks, cabinets, drawers and windows. You will basically need to go through the entire house and wipe it down with citrus disinfectant. An ozone generator, available for about $100, could be brought in to help clear the smell in severe cases.
Prime and Repaint Walls
Once the stains and smells seem to be under control, it's time to bring the house back to life with a fresh coat (or two) of paint. But first be sure to seal out that smoke damage by priming the walls with a quality primer such as Kilz. Use proper latex paints on top of the primer to finish the job of making the smoke damage no more than a memory.
Wash Clothes and Deodorize Furniture
Let's assume you have taken care of the house itself, and even the fixtures in the house all the way down to the last baseboard and switch plate. What about the stuff in your house that doesn't wipe down? Clothing, bedding, curtains and fabric furniture all fall into this category and they hold odor very well.
For the laundry, prepare to wash everything that was in the house at the time the smoke damage was done, and everything you wore to clean it up. Add a cup of the same citrus disinfectant that you used to deodorize everything else to your laundry. Most of these cleaners are not likely to bleach out your clothing, but test it to be sure. If, after washing, the smell is still present in the clothing, curtains or bedding then you may want to add some ammonia to your wash and try again, according to Thriftyfun.com. Ammonia is a nitrogen and hydrogen compound used in many household cleaners and it may just be the key to removing the odors. Make sure you use ammonia in a well-ventilated area.
Odors on fabrics in furniture may be the toughest to tame. Sometimes the only solution may be to get rid of smoke-damaged furniture and buy new. Hopefully your homeowner's insurance covers such things. If not, the best you can hope for is to use carpet deodorizers that will help to cover the smell.
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