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How To Clean Smoke Damage And Remove Odor: DYI Tips

Posted Thu, May 17, 2018 in Fire Damage

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(866) 575-5814 phone-iconAlways Nearby. Call Today! There are many things you can do to cleanup smoke damage and odor yourself following fire damage. We want to share some DIY tips on how to clean smoke damage and remove odor, so you can understand the process pros use. Smoke damage affects everything from the ceilings to the floors in a property. The damage from smoke is nasty and cleaning is also not very easy. Fuel that does not burn all the way like carbon particles and other elements appear as smoke. Heat, light, carbon dioxide and also water vapor are produced after complete combustion. These components of smoke are tiny particulate matter below 10 microns (PM10). PM10 is made from things like small wood tar droplets, soot, ash and also gases. Most elements of smoke are actually smaller than one micron, so they are very small.

Charring and Soot Damage

Smoke damage is easy to spot due to discoloration and black marks on the ceilings and walls. The staining is caused by charring and soot. Charring happens, when paint and other materials start to burn. The first priority to dealing with smoke damage is determining whether cleaning will fix the issue. Cleaning soot, charring and smoke damage may not be possible, so a remodel may be the only option. There are also times, when some semi-gloss or satin finishes may solve the problem.

Cleaning Smoke Damage

Trisodium Phosphate is a cleaner you will need for cleaning smoke damage. You will also need 2 buckets, a large sponge, rags, warm water, gloves, safety googles and drop clothes. Trisodium Phosphate is a harsh chemical, so it's important to be careful, when using it to clean smoke damage. The gloves and googles are vital, so you don't have to worry about skin or eye irritation.

The cleaning process

  1. Use warm water to fill one bucket and then add a tablespoon of Trisodium Phosphate.
  2. Fill the other bucket with plain water, so you can use it to rinse the cleaning solution.
  3. Choose a section of the wall or ceiling, so you can begin the cleaning process.
  4. Start by dipping the sponge in the cleaning solution and using it to scrub the section you chose to clean.
  5. Once the wall and ceilings start to look clean use a rag and the rinse water to wipe up the cleaning solution.
  6. This process can take some time, effort and multiple cleaning attempts, so be mindful not to soak the walls too much.
  7. Taking the baseboards and trim off is never a bad idea due to smoke particles and odor that may get behind them
  8. Cleaning the smoke damage properly will help greatly with odor, but it also may be a good idea to paint.

Dealing With Bad Smoke Odor

The visible soot and charring sucks, but the smoke also leaves behind a bad odor. Smoke odor takes a long time to go away and cleaning it can be time consuming too. There are different cleaning methods for different types and strengths of smoke odor. Draperies, carpets, furnishings and clothes that have a bad smoke odor may need professional cleaning. In fact, professional cleaning may not even remove the odor. Therefore, insurance companies will often suggest throwing away a lot of smoke damage content right away. This saves them money in trying to clean the smoke damage only to replace it later anyway.

Cleaning methods for bad smoke odor include:

Ozone generators

Ozone generators are great at helping to eliminate or reduce smoke odor from a room, but they're also expensive. Our fire restoration team rents out ozone generators in Chicago for smoke odor cleanup. The ozone generators do have limits, so they don't eliminate odor in draperies, furnishings and carpets that have smoke damage.

Baking soda

Baking soda is great for fire damage due to how it absorbs natural odor. It will absorb a lot of smoke odor over the period of a couple days, so sprinkle it liberally on floors, walls and furniture. Leaving bowls full of baking soda in the middle of the room also helps with smoke odor.


Vinegar is also a great natural cleaner for smoke odor. Everyone knows vinegar does have a bad smell of it's own, so mixing it with lavender oil is a popular for the DYI crowd. Vinegar is an effective cleaner, so you should wipe washable walls, floors and furniture with it to fight smoke odor. Placing bowls of vinegar in a smoke damaged room will also help eliminate odor over the period of a couple days.

Fresh air

Fresh air flow works well for smoke odor, because it literally blows away a lot of the soot. Air flow is great for clearing out smoke odor, so warm weather is a blessing for fire damage.

Air Duct Cleaning

Air Duct Cleaning and changing out your air filter will also make a big difference in your smoke odor removal. Here is what the EPA says about air duct cleaning, mold and more. Call us for a free quote on air duct cleaning too at 866-575-5814 anytime.


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