How to Get Smoke Smell Out of a House After a Fire
House fires are not only dangerous; they also leave a devastating trail of destruction throughout your property. Fire departments across the U.S. report an average of 353,100 home structure fires every year. Damage, toxic smoke, and soot are all left behind after the flames have been put out. Perhaps the least obvious and most difficult challenge is how to get the smoke smell out of a house after a fire, which can reduce the air quality within your home and become dangerous to inhabitants. If you’ve recently experienced a fire in your home (or even in a home nearby), here’s how to get rid of the smoke smell after a fire.
Why is it So Hard to Remove the Smoke Smell from a House?
Attempting to get rid of fire smoke smell is a considerable challenge for property owners because of the way smoke invades a space. Within smoke are tiny particles that stick to any surface. Porous materials in particular, such as fabric, furniture, and paint, all retain the smell of smoke after a fire. Without specialized cleaning equipment, the smell of smoke can linger for months, or even years, after the fire. You need to act quickly. The smell of smoke is not only unpleasant, but it compromises indoor air quality and becomes a health hazard.
How to Get Smoke Smell Out of the House After a Fire
Here are a few tips on how to get rid of the smoke smell from a fire ranging from fire smoke odor removal products to tactics for removing smoke particles.
1. Air Out Your Home
The easiest way to get rid of the fire smoke smell is to air out the space. Circulating fresh air from the outside is one of the simplest options for removing smoke particles. Open all the doors and windows, set fans on high, and remove any screens to direct smoke particles away from your home.
2. Deep Clean Fabric Items
Fabric items are especially problematic when they come into contact with smoke because they tend to soak up smoke particles. Take all fabric items inside your property and wash them. Store these washed fabrics away from the home until you’ve gotten rid of the smoke smell completely, or they risk absorbing the stench all over again.
3. Use Baking Soda on Carpeting
One method for how to get rid of smoke in a house after a fire is to use baking soda. Smoke odors penetrate deep into carpet fibers, which is why even a deep clean may not completely remove the toxic odor. Sprinkle baking soda liberally over your carpet and allow it to rest overnight. Clean it up with a HEPA-filter vacuum cleaner. In most cases, this should work, but if the smell lingers, you may need to replace the carpeting.
4. Create a Cleaning Solution for Hard Surfaces
Hard surfaces also pose a problem when it comes to how to get smoke smell out of a house. Clean all hard surfaces with a special cleaning solution that you can make yourself. To make this purifying liquid, you should:
- Fill a bucket with a gallon of warm water
- Add a half-cup of distilled white vinegar
- Sprinkle a teaspoon of shampoo/dishwashing soap
Use a spray bottle for countertops and a bucket/mop for floors and items with larger surface areas. Wooden or antique items may require specially formulated fire smoke odor removal products.
5. Change Your Air Conditioning Filter
Additionally, you’ll need to pay attention to your HVAC/ventilation systems. Change out the filter of your AC unit. You may also need to invest in professional air duct cleaning if smoke particles make their way inside your HVAC system. The filter can be changed yourself, but only a professional should start taking apart your HVAC system.
6. Repaint the Walls
Most of those figuring out how to get rid of fire smoke smell overlook the potential for the paint on their walls to have smoke particles inside. Even after cleaning the surfaces in your home, the smoke smell may still linger inside the paint. The only option is to repaint the walls. Follow these steps:
- Use cleaning products that contain either glycol or ammonia to wash the walls.
- Allow the walls to dry completely.
- Apply a primer to lock in any remaining odors.
- Use latex paint to complete the paint job.
7. Call a Professional Odor Removal Service
Sometimes, when it comes to how to get rid of the fire smoke smell in a house, all of your efforts may not eliminate it entirely, and it’s time to call in the experts. There are professional odor removal services designed to handle this specific issue. While small grease fires may leave an odor that’s easy to get rid of, major house fires typically require the experience of a professional. While these services are expensive, they can rejuvenate your home (as well as the air quality inside it).
The American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA) understands how devastating fires can be to homes. If you’re a landlord or own an apartment, working out how to get the smoke smell out of a house after a fire is especially crucial, as the smell can pose a significant problem in making your property rentable again. We provide an online network of resources and benefits for landlords and property managers for help in even the most extreme circumstances. For a simplified approach to property management, contact the American Apartment Owners Association today.