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Thread: How to remove smoke smell after fire?

  1. #1
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    We had an electrical fire at our other house last week. Thankfully, no one was injured, but there is enough damage that it can not be lived it until repaired. We're are hoping to do some of the cleanup ourselves and use the money for the critical repairs (like having the whole house rewired). Can't do much until the insurance co. says we can go back in and clean. Short of airing out while we are there, what else can I try?

    I am looking for suggestions about cleaning products that will help remove the smoke smell of walls, cabinets, leather furniture, etc.

    Any suggestions?

  2. #2
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    Your insurance company should have a company they trust that can help. They will understand there is a lot of work you want to do yourself for personal reasons, not only to save money and they are usually more than willing to share their tricks. It is good PR for future referrals.

  3. #3
    Super Member charismah's Avatar
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    I have no idea of cleaning supplies.

    I am so sorry you were attacked by a fire. I know how scary it is.....Blessings!

  4. #4
    Super Member bluteddi's Avatar
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    for woodwork, I'd try murphys wood soap.... it cleans and conditions the wood.

    bleach water / or Awesome cleaner for wiping down the walls/appliances....

    try to put furniture out to air in the sunshine...

  5. #5
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    Baking soda will help. You can open a box of it in each room to help absorb the smoke odor while you are waiting to clean.

  6. #6
    Super Member Buckeye Rose's Avatar
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    speaking from experience, a hard or sealed surface will be easier to clean and simple soap and water will do the trick. If the surface is in any way soft or absorbent the smell may not ever come out. soft plastics like tupperware or rubbermaid are virtually impossible to get the smell out. Take all clothes and fabric items to dry cleaner. Let the pros tackle upholstered furniture and carpets. If you don't have water damage to walls and ceilings, then use Kilz paint sealer (works great) and then repaint. I think you will find that you have more damage from water than smoke or fire. Make sure you milk that insurance company for every dime you can get ( you know how they would be if it was you that owed them money). Most will pay to have the cleaning done. Good luck!

  7. #7
    Super Member NikkiLu's Avatar
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    OH NO - not all of those fabulous Lucky Star quilts that you made??? Hope not.

  8. #8
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    One thing to consider...what health consequences might there be trying to clean all the residue. I have allergies and asthma...would not even attempt. Just be careful

    Found this on the net...
    HEPA filtered vacuum and febreeze if its upholstered furniture or carpets. white distilled vinegar if its plastic, glass or other non-porous, if it is wood use mineral spirits... if its a whole room use a lot of ventilation and a warm steam humidifier, and clean the room thoroughly.

  9. #9
    Senior Member quiltingme's Avatar
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    So sorry. Good luck with the cleaning.

  10. #10
    Super Member janedee's Avatar
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    bi-carbonate of soda helps a bit but if it is in hard surfaces your insurance should provide you with a company to do a professional clean - I had to have that done after my neighbours had a fire and two of my rooms had to be completely re-decorated and carpeted but the insurance covered all that - so sorry you have had this know exactly how awful it is. Please be aware that smoke damage is just as toxic as the smoke itself so it must be cleaned properly

  11. #11
    grayma's Avatar
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    Sorry that you have to go through this. I hope all these suggestions help.

  12. #12
    Super Member Naturalmama's Avatar
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    How scary - glad you're ok, but it's still very upsetting!!!

  13. #13
    Super Member bjeriann's Avatar
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    If you choose the send stuff out to be cleaned, make sure and inventory everything. Take pictures. ALL my quilts were lost some how and they tried to give us someone elses antique furniture. They wanted us to keep it because they didn't know where it was to go. But I never got my quilts back. Some were my DH's great-great-grandmothers

  14. #14
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    Thank you for all the suggestions. The adjuster did calculate money for cleaning, but the policy is actual cash value, not replacement value (NOW I know the difference). So after they take off for depreciation and the deductible, we may come up short. I'm just thinking ahead, haven't arranged for contractors to give estimates yet. I was just looking over what he listed and thought I could put a couple thousand towards the electrical repairs if the contractors give higher estimates than what was allowed. Doesn't it always seem to be that way with insurance companies?

    I should have trusted my gut when buying the place. If I had, I would have backed out. I had such a hard time finding insurance because it was over 50 years old and is a rental. Hubby wanted to help the kids out when they were down and out with a child on the way.

    The fire was contained to the back of the house with not too much smoke damage anywhere else. Most of what burned and has the water damage will be replaced, but you can smell it in the kitchen and living room. They lost some "stuff", but fortunately there were no injuries. But being a rental, my insurance doesn't cover their stuff or the rent we would have collected. They didn't have rental insurance either.

    It's been a pretty stressful time for us all. The house is 3 hours away, so it's not convenient for them to come here. She stays at her mom's tiny place with the kids. He sleeps on a couch at work. A friend who travels alot used his points to give them several nights at a local hotel. Now they need to find temporary housing.

  15. #15
    Super Member katier825's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NikkiLu
    OH NO - not all of those fabulous Lucky Star quilts that you made??? Hope not.
    Luckily no quilts were damaged in the fire!

  16. #16
    Power Poster
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    Glad everyone is ok!

  17. #17
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    So sorry! Glad everyone is safe!

  18. #18
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    TSP - Trisodium Phosphate - is supposed to take out smoke smell. Home Depot or a paint store should have it.

  19. #19
    Moderator QuiltnNan's Avatar
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    Once, my parents hired a 3rd party insurance estimator. it was so worth his fee. he did all the negotiating with the insurance company. some of the things that were total losses were salvaged by my clever parents.

  20. #20
    Super Member d.rickman's Avatar
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    I sent you a PM!!

    If you still have smoke smell - once the insurance company has ok'd the cleanup, and after the cleanup by fire and water restoration folks, then do the following:

    Check with all your local car dealerships, they probably have the name of a company that attends their facility to place a "smoke canister" inside vehicles where the previous owners have smoked cigarettes. We had a company place two of these canisters inside our RV and it really worked - "bubblegum" was our choice of deodorizing smell, better than smoke smell that it got rid of.

    Be sure to keep track of any time that you or your husband spend cleaning or removing items from the fire incident, our insurance company paid us a couple of thousand dollars for our work/time - we also took lots of pictures - which was to our benefit, and submitted notarized statements from our neighbours to attest to our time spent working on this incident.

    Don't be discouraged, it will seem like quite a process, but in the end will probably be better than before.

    Hugs to you all.

  21. #21
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    A while back on this board someone had the same problem and she sent them off to a company and when she got them back the smell was gone. Do a search here on the board

  22. #22
    Super Member QBeth's Avatar
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    Years ago when my parents had a house fire, a cleaning contractor (who they couldn't afford) recommended painting their basement walls (unfinished cement blocks) with a mixture of milk (!) and the cheapest white paint they could find, 50/50 ratio. Worked great.

    Best of luck fixing this mess and SO glad no one was harmed!

  23. #23
    Super Member d.rickman's Avatar
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    ZEP Professional Smoke and Odor Neutralizer, which "chemically neutralizes the source of Malodors"

    Found this one for you also.
    Toll-Free 1-877-428-9937

  24. #24
    Senior Member JoAnnGC's Avatar
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    Several years ago we had a very bad fire. Even after the cleaning company came in we could still smell that horrible burnt odor. Someone told me about a product called Odo-Ban which we purchased at Sam's Club. I recently found out that it is now available at Wal-Mart. You can use it in a bucket diluted with water, in your washing machine, diluted in a spray bottle or any way you see fit. It removes the smoke odor and leaves a light floral scent. It also kills mold, mildew and bacteria which can be a problem if there is any water damage. You'll be very happy with the results. I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. I know how devestating a fire can be.

  25. #25
    Super Member amandasgramma's Avatar
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    I had a serious kitchen fire years ago. The ins. company sent in a company that cleaned all the SURFACES. They didn't clean inside the coffee pot, nor inside the cupboards. Learned in time that even the Grandfather Clock was affected and had to be taken in. Don't wait for the ins. company to tell you to do these things -- YOU get in and insist everything is cleaned. Including the furnace/AC unit -- and the ducts. Also, we had to repaint our kitchen --- found the soot was in behind the hinges!!!!! So remove all hinges/handles and clean. It's a pain but it worked!! Two years later we put the house up for sale and NO ONE knew we'd had a fire. I admitted it but everyone said you couldn't smell smoke at all.
    Good luck!!!!

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