Fire damage is never pretty. However, it usually isn't the only damage present. Usually water damage and smoke damage are also present. With the wildfires we've had in Southern California in the past couple of years, even if your home doesn't sustain any fire damage, if it is close enough to the fire it can still sustain smoke damage.
Smoke is a thick gas that contains tiny gas, liquid, and solid particles, as well as chemicals, which can vary depending on what is burning. A big component of smoke is carbon, tar, ash, and oils, which makes up most of the dark color seen in smoke. These components are what cause smoke to stick to things. The reason for this is due to incomplete combustion of all of the materials burned. The remaining materials are carried with the smoke into the air and the surrounding area.
Smoke damage specifically is when smoke is present and creates dirty and unusable surroundings that are often dangerous to your health. Smoke particles will build up on surfaces of most materials, causing lingering odors and stains.
How to Get Rid of Smoke Damage
In most cases, you will want to call in a professional. Smoke damage can be incredibly difficult to clean, as well as hazardous. For smaller smoke damage cleanups, we've included some tips on how to clean soot-affected areas.
- Cover items not affected by the smoke and soot
- Air circulation - open all windows and doors. Use fans to help move the air around and remove lingering particles from the air
- Use a vacuum cleaner for carpets and other textiles. Hold the nozzle just above the area, don't rub. Most textiles are best to have cleaned professionally, but for clothes that are only slightly affected they can usually be cleaned in the laundry (though it may take a few cycles, use warm water and liquid detergent)
- Some clothing items may need to be soaked overnight in a mixture of water and detergent to remove smoke odors
- For walls affected by soot, clean with a non water-based cleaner and a special chemical sponge, which can usually be purchased from a cleaning supply company or home improvement store
- Smoke particles can also get stuck in areas our of sight and out of reach. You will want to have air ducts and other areas inspected to make sure they are cleaned of all soot