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5 Ways to Reduce the Smoke Smell after a Fire

January 19, 2023

As nearly any firefighter would tell you, the smell of smoke after a fire can be overwhelming. It’s not only unpleasant, but it can pose a health risk as well. The smell on clothing, walls, carpeting and furniture may cause headaches, nausea and dizziness, so reducing it as soon as possible is important.

Getting rid of the smoke smell after a fire can be a long process, but every step should make being in the home or business more tolerable.

Reducing the Smoke Smell after a Fire: 5 Steps that May Help

Whether you experienced a small fire due to a toaster oven that went on the fritz or a more extensive fire that damaged various rooms in your home, you will undoubtedly experience some residual effects. After some time, the smell will diminish, but there are several ways to speed up the process in the meantime.

1. Air out the home or business.

Ventilating the home or business is the first step, and there are several ways to do so.

  • Open the doors and windows for ventilation. Consider removing the window screens to increase air flow.
  • If it’s cold outside, opening doors and windows just a crack will help.
  • Use fans to push out the smoke smell. Open one door or window at a time, and place a fan at the other side of the room facing that door or window. Turn the fan on high to essentially shove the dirty air out. Continue doing this in each room that has been affected.
  • Turn on ceiling fans for additional ventilation. If it’s cold outside and you have windows and doors cracked open, consider using “winter mode” to pull the cold air up and push the warm air down.

There are several ways to reduce the smoke smell after a fire, including cleaning the walls, washing clothing and airing out the rooms.
Using fans along with opening doors and windows can help reduce the smoke smell after a fire.

2. Clean windows and window treatments.

Remove curtains and gently wash them in your wash cycle or have them professionally cleaned. After washing them, take them out of the property and replace them when you’re confident that the worst of the smoke smell is gone.

You may also clean plastic or metal blinds and rods using a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and water. (Do not use vinegar on wooden blinds, and do not soak them, as you could damage them if you do. Instead, use a dry cloth and wood polish to wipe the blinds.)

Finally, clean the windows using vinegar, water and a sponge or microfiber cloth.

3. Wash your clothing and linens.

Wash your clothing and towels using your normal household detergent. The American Red Cross suggests using cold water and adding one tablespoon of pure vanilla extract to a load of clothing.

There are several ways to reduce the smoke smell after a fire, including cleaning the walls, washing clothing and airing out the rooms.
After a fire, be sure to wash clothing, linen, towels and curtains to reduce the lingering odors.

4. Clear soot and smoke off walls, floors and ceilings.

To remove soot and smoke off walls and floors, mix 4 to 6 tablespoons of trisodium phosphate (an odorless cleaning powder that looks and acts somewhat like baking soda) and one cup household cleaner (such as dish soap or floor cleaner) with one gallon of warm water. Wear rubber gloves and use a soft sponge or microfiber cloth to clean the surfaces. Rinse the surfaces with clear warm water and dry them thoroughly.

To avoid further damaging the paint or wallpaper, squeeze excess water out of the sponge or cloth before cleaning the walls. As you clean them, wash one small area at a time, and work from the floor up to prevent streaking. Rinse the surface with clear water immediately, but don’t soak the wall.

5. Wash the dishes and clean cabinet surfaces and counertops.

Wash cups, plates, pots, pans and other kitchenware as you normally would. Wipe down the interior and exterior of the cabinets using a wood polish or slightly damp microfiber cloth. Do not soak the surfaces.

Consult with a Contractor

By completing these steps, you should be able to reduce the smoke smell after a fire, although it might take a few days before the odor is completely gone.

However, in some cases, you may need professional help to repair extensive smoke and fire damage. For example, wiping down drywall that has been damaged by water from a fire hose is not enough. Drywall that has been soaked may grow dangerous mold and mildew and essentially will never look the same again, so it’s important to get that drywall replaced. You may also wish to contact an HVAC technician to clear your heating and air conditioning system, which may have collected particles and debris from the fire.

For more information about how to reduce the smoke smell after a fire or to request help to repair your home or business, contact one of our restoration company’s offices in Indiana, Ohio or Kentucky. Message us through our website or call our corporate headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana, at 317-672-1950 to be directed.