CLEANING UP: Getting Rid of Smoke Odors in Your Home

As we all start the recovery after the firestorm, a lot of us have specific questions about how to clean up. Getting rid of smoke damage is new to most of us. So it’s time to call in the experts. Master Cleaner and Restorer Shawn Bisaillor is our local source for the best, safest information on this subject. 

“Often the best solution to the pollution is dilution,” says Bisaillor. ”Outside fresh air and sunlight can be effective for many materials.”

“Be prepared that smoke odors will often take more than one process to fully eliminate detectable odor,” says Bisaillor. “This depends on the concentration severity, intensity of heat and wind pressure of the smoke damages and the porosity of the surfaces being cleaned,” he added.

For all cleaning, Bisaillor says that gloves and a mask should be worn at all times. 


  1. How can I clean fabric furniture?

“Furniture should be lightly brushed and vacuumed with a HEPA filtered vacuum.(poor quality vacuum filters will allow contaminates to be airborne and likely decontaminate what is being cleaned or nearby materials.) Wet cleanable fabrics should then be cleaned with hot water extraction techniques as outlined in the (IICRC S300) Industry Guideline for professional upholstery and fabric care. Professional cleaners can be certified in this skill and can often assist if deeper smell persists past the initial vacuuming.

Leather and wood trim should be vacuumed, cleaned and conditioned according to the manufacturer’s appropriate finish. If smoke odors still persist, call in the professionals. They can apply specialty deodorizing solutions and even ozone gas to get rid of persistent smoke odors in fabrics and other porous surfaces.

2) How do I clean shades and blinds?

“Window treatments require extensive vacuuming and careful brushing. Non porous materials then need to be hand wiped. Some systems can be more easily dismantled and carefully blown clean. More delicate window treatment systems may require removal and offsite restoration. Persistent odors can be additionally professionally treated with deodorizing options such as thermal modification fogging, CLO2, ozone or hydroxyl gas.”

3) Do my walls need repainting if they’ve suffered smoke damage?

If your walls were not directly burned (only smoke damaged), they won’t require full or even partial interior sealing or repainting. This is dependent on the porosity of the wall finish or paint sheen that was affected, however. For most walls, vacuum then first then lightly wipe them off with a “chem/soot sponge” designed to absorb the smoke soil. (** we have some free samples at the Chamber right now!) If the walls were heavily smoke-affected and close to direct fire, do a full wash/wipe down. if they Many painted walls will additionally benefit from a specialized professionally-applied thermal fog treatment and/or even ozone gas.

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