Smoke Restoration – Cleaning Your House After Fires
The smoke has cleared, and the air is finally at safe levels. What next?
The longer and bigger the fire the more smoke that was created from the fire, creating an air quality issue. The longer you wait to remedy the house, the worse it gets, unfortunately. As soon as the air quality is good enough, opening doors and windows to move the air around will be immediately helpful. Using candles, air fresheners will not help the damage to the smoke inside your house. A good ol’ fashioned fashion DEEP clean is critical for your overall health and well-being moving forward.
We have some information and tips as well as suggestions as to how to do some things yourself and where you may need to reach out for professional help.
Many of your items will need to be tended to professionally. The soot will have soaked into surfaces, but there are two types of soot. Dry soot is easier to clean, you can deal with it by using a low alkaline detergent and a sponge. Oily soot requires more professional help to ensure damage doesn’t occur.
“Materials throughout your home react differently to soot and smoke molecules. Porous hard surfaces such as drywall, wallpaper, wood, and paint can become discolored and permanently stained unless treated quickly. Metallic surfaces may start to rust and corrode with acidic soot from a fire. Even cleaning your furniture may be damaging. Cleaning chemicals may seep into your carpet as it dries, carrying with it soot and smoke molecules that can cause stains.” ServiceMaster
Try putting a dish of charcoal out to absorb the odors.
Cleaning Hard Surface & Items
Wipe down hard surfaces with water and a mild detergent, this would include wind frames and window sills, as well as all of your cabinets and cabinet drawers both inside and out.side.
If oily soot is present, avoid using your washing machine as it can cause clogging and even more problems for you. Once things get cleaned, avoid storing them inside the house until it is all cleaned if possible because the smoke can make its way back into your items.
Metallic surfaces can be problematic – act quickly, they may start to corrode or rust due to the acidity within hours. Other hard surfaces may start to discolor if not tended-to quickly as well, remove as soon as you can so you don’t end up with hard stains.
Rooms that are slightly less affected could benefit from using odor neutralizing agents like baking soda or activated charcoal.
Making your own cleaning solution –
Gallon of warm water
Half cup of distilled white vinegar
Teaspoon of dishwashing soap or shampoo
This can be used on your surfaces and put into a spray bottle for easy usage. If you use it to mop, rinse the mop with fresh water to flush the smoke particles down the sink.
Clean All Fabric Belongings
Fabrics can soak up the smell like a sponge – wash according to labels for each fabric item. Again be mindful of what kind of soot you have so you don’t end up with a clogged washer if you have oily soot. Once cleaned, store in a non-smokey space to prevent reabsorption.
Have Upholstery Professionally Cleaned
Most of our fabric covered furniture can not be put in the washer and will need special attention. Once it is tended to and cleaned you can cover in plastic until your home is ready for re-entry of furniture.
Get a fan and on its highest level, put in a doorway or a window that will allow the air to stream in and circulate in a more rapid way. There are also DIY ways to make an air purifier that may help you get by with bad air.
Baking soda and vinegar may be your best friend working on the carpets. Use baking soda by liberally sprinkling the baking soda all over the carpet and lightly spraying the surface with vinegar, ideally letting it sit overnight. Vacuum it thoroughly with a vacuum that has a HEPA-filter.
Steam cleaning your carpet is another option. If neither are successful, contacting a professional will be your best route or replacing the carpet.
Change Air Conditioning Filter
Put a fresh filter in immediately. If you have an HVAC or ventilation system, you will need this inspected and cleaned by a professional. Air duct cleaning is really important to help rid any lingering smoke particles. We want the air to be as fresh as possible.
If you have specific questions we have a team that we can direct you to (Insurance pro’s, home restoration companies), to answer your questions if you don’t know where to turn. Stay safe and healthy friends.