Damage from even a small, contained fire can permeate an entire house. While most of the area that is actually damaged by the fire will require replacement, areas that were only subjected to smoke exposure are usually salvageable. Smoke is especially pervasive because it often leaves behind soot or an oil residue, which traps the odors in fibers. If the odor is still overpowering, even after repairs have been made, the following tips can help you get rid of it.
Tip #1: Shampoo the Carpet and Upholstery
These are the two biggest items in a home that can absorb smoke odor. Keep in mind that smoke can filter through ductwork and between floorboards, so smoke can even get into carpets and furniture that are on a different floor than where the fire occurred. A deep shampooing is the best way to remove the smoke residue. Professional fire restoration cleaning is a better option than a DIY job. Not only will they use enzymatic cleaners that will help break down the oil residues left behind, they usually have powerful extractors that will suck the dirty, smoke-carrying cleaning solution out of the carpets and pads.
Tip #2: Wash Your Drapes and Linens
Fabric is the next big absorber of odors. Drapes and window coverings, shower curtains, and table linens may have all suffered direct exposure. These can usually be machine washed with an oxygenated bleach cleanser to help remove all smoke odor. Some items may be dry clean only, but even these can be thoroughly cleaned by a professional. If the odor seems to linger, make sure that it didn't permeate into any linen cupboards or closets. If it did, thoroughly wash the contents.
Tip #3: Tend to Your Artwork
While any type of display item or picture can be coated in the oil smoke residue, most can be simply cleaned with a damp rag and diluted bleach in water. Canvas and fabric mounted art can pose a greater cleaning challenge, though, and these are also more prone to absorbing the smoke odors. Fortunately, canvases can generally be cleaned. This is best left to a professional, since cleaners and solvents have to be used carefully to avoid damaging the paint on the canvas.
Tip #4: Clean the Air
If the odor persists even after all the final details throughout the home have been thoroughly tended to and cleaned, you may need to fully air out the home so any remaining odor can dissipate from inside walls and ducts. Your restoration specialists may recommend duct cleaning, or they may run a temporary ventilation fan. Deodorization methods, such as ozone cleaning, may also be used to remove the last vestiges of the smoke odor.