If you have belongings that sustained smoke damage in a fire, you need to act quickly because the damage can continue to get worse even after the fire is out and the house has been ventilated. Smoke particles are tiny and can settle in fabric, wood, and other materials quickly, with the particles sinking deeper into items as each day passes. Calling a fire damage restoration company is vital to successfully getting rid of the smoke smell, but if the company is very busy (for example, several households were affected by a brush fire, so a lot of people need help at the same time), you need to start the process yourself.
Baking Soda in a Bag
For items like books and other non-washable but small items, get zippered plastic bags. Place the items inside one bag (such as a gallon-size bag) and leave that bag open; place lots of baking soda in a larger bag, such as one of the multi-gallon sizes now available, and place the smaller bag inside the larger bag. Seal the larger bag but again, leave the smaller bag open. The baking soda will remove odor particles while not sticking to the objects in the smaller bag.
Vinegar and Very Hot Water in the Wash
For all washable items, get a lot of white distilled vinegar -- the culinary type from the supermarket will do, though ensure you get real vinegar and not a synthetic substitute -- and a detergent that has a fragrance that you can stand. Wash each item in very hot water with the detergent and about a cup of vinegar added during the rinse/fabric softener cycle and keep washing without drying until the smoke odor is gone. You may have to repeat this a few times. Don't overstuff the washer loads, though. Then dry the items on the hot/regular setting.
Pet Odor Remover
Items like furniture upholstery and carpeting need to be steam cleaned for severe smoke, but if you've got some items that were only marginally affected, you might want to try either baking soda or a pet odor remover. Sprinkle the baking soda or pet odor powder on the affected item and let sit for a few hours. Vacuum up and repeat as necessary. Do let the fire damage company know what you've used because they may have to do additional work on large pieces of furniture, which can absorb smoke deep down.
There are commercially available cleaners as well as soot-cleaning sponges that you can try using, too. These are simple to use; just follow instructions well.
Once something has been cleaned to a satisfactory level, try to remove it from the smoke-damaged area. You don't want smoke particles that are still in the area to land on your now-clean items. A professional fire damage restoration company can also give you more tips as you wait for your appointment.Share