Tips for odor removal after a home fire

Smoke odor can be extremely persistent and annoying, adding more stress to already stressful situation after a fire. Aside from type and location of the fire, odor strength can vary and so can the difficulty to remove it. Several factors are responsible for the strength of the odor and difficulty of removing it. Size of the fire is maybe one of the most important factors. Alongside materials that burned in the fire, and the length of exposure to smoke and fumes is significant as well. Was the space affected small or large, did smoke have a way to get out immediately? Was it trapped before the fire broke through and made its way? These all are factors that are significant to the odor persistence and the difficulty of removing it.

Everything that was affected by the smoke needs to be cleaned and if it cannot be cleaned, it needs to be replaced. Carpets, draperies, upholstered furniture, clothes, everything that was around smoke needs to be aired out and treated based on how affected it was. Some highly affected items need to be cleaned and treated by professionals. Using professional treatment methods and detergents, using special tools and techniques that remove the odor from the depths of fiber and fabric.

Some things that you can do on your own to help remove the odor include using vinegar, big fans to create a draft, detergents like shampoo, baking soda, or some products that actually have an agent inside them that reacts with odor cause. Vinegar might not seem like a good idea because vinegar in itself is smelly and has an uncomfortable odor, but don’t be fooled. Vinegar reacts with resins and tars ( which cause the odor), and it can be used to remove the odor from items that aren’t made of fiber/fabric. Surfaces like glass, plastic, boards, etc can be washed with detergent and water, as well as interiors of cabinets and drawers.

Baking soda

Another great resource to help with the odor is baking soda (scented or not). Great thing about it is it doesn’t require too much hard work: just put baking soda on the affected area and around it, let it rest for a day or two, and remove it with a vacuum cleaner. You can repeat this process a few times until the odor is gone, or consult a professional if you have any questions or require further help.