How To Deal With Smoke Damage

by Editor on May 31, 2013

Sleeping Cat Benny Blue Door Antiques 10-19-09 -- IMG_8020

A fire is a devastating event.  It can swiftly destroy homes, businesses, nature and even lives.  It will leave behind an array of several types of damage.  First, there is damage from the actual fire itself.  Items will be burned and charred.  These things are usually not salvageable.  Next, if the fire was put out by firemen, there is water damage.  This can lead to warping and mold.  If water is removed quickly, then more items may be saved.

Lastly, there is smoke damage.  Many people think that the effects of smoke can be countered by opening your windows and simply airing out the smoke.  This is far from the truth.  After the smoke seems to be dissipated from a building, you will notice a film covering the surfaces of almost everything and a strong odor that will not go away.  Unless the film and the odor are removed, the smoke particles will continue to damage, and the odor will lay stagnant.

It Affects Everything

Smoke does not play favorites in what it chooses to damage.  Commonly affected items of smoke damage include:


If it is a removable rug, the rug can be rolled up and cleaned off site.  Make sure to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.  It can then be cleaned with water and a safe cleaner and thoroughly dried.  If the carpet is installed, it can still be saved, depending on the damage.  Vacuuming and then use a professional carpet cleaner to do the rest.

Upholstered Furniture

The ability to save your furniture depends on the type of material that it is made with.  If it is a microfiber or cotton blend, water and alcohol can be used to clean it.  For other types of furniture, one may need to check with the manufacturer for safe ways to try to remove the damage.

Wood Furniture

Most of the time, wood furniture can be cleaned with a clean cloth and mineral spirits to remove the film of the smoke.  Wood furniture should also be fanned or aired out as well, as it is porous and smoke may penetrate the inner parts.

Silver & Glass

Silver and glass objects should be washed in warm water and mild to remove the film.  It is also helpful for them be to be rinsed in alcohol so as to prevent water spots.

Do It Yourself or Call a Professional?

These are just a few items commonly affected by smoke damage.  Others include: clothing, paintings, bedding and linens, statues, stone work, fake plants and ceramic.  Smoke removal is not an easy task or one that can be done hurriedly.  Each item type has a different method to remove the film and the odor left behind by smoke.  Items that have a hard surface (such as glass) or can be easily washed (such as cotton bedding) are easier to salvage than intricate, fragile items such as paintings and books.

If you know where to find the information and have time and patience, you may be able to remove the damaging effects of the smoke yourself.  If you would rather leave it up to the professionals, there are restoration companies that do this type of thing every day.

About the Author

Jamie Bailey has written for many years about a variety of topics.  Most recently, she has enjoyed writing about fire and smoke damage.  She has never experienced a fire herself and hopes never to have to use this information in real life.

photo by: stevendepolo

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