Most homeowner's insurance policies cover the costs of cleaning and deodorizing the damaged property. Licensed fire and water restoration companies and licensed janitorial companies are equipped to handle the job. Consult with the homeowner's insurance agent when selecting the restorative services company.
Uninsured homeowners should hire a licensed fire and water restoration company or a licensed janitorial company to do the restoration work. Professional cleaning personnel are trained and equipped to safely clean and deodorize the damaged property.
Homeowners electing to clean and deodorize damaged properties themselves should seal off the affected room(s) or area(s) from other areas using plastic. This will prevent the contamination from spreading to other areas. Everything touched by smoke needs to be cleaned. Some helpful cleaning and deodorizing hints are listed below. All products mentioned can be purchased at a janitorial supply or paint supply store.
IMPORTANT: Read all labels and consult with store employees prior to using any product.
Warning - DO NOT use gasoline for cleaner
Warning - DO NOT mix ammonia and bleach together
Warning - Keep cleaning solutions away from children and pets.
Painted walls and ceilings will need to be cleaned and repainted. First clean the surface with a tri-sodium phosphate and water solution. Then apply a smoke sealer and allow it to dry before painting the surface.
Cloth items should be cleaned in a washing machine or professionally dry cleaned. Be sure to read carefully read the labels for cleaning directions.
Carpets should be vacuumed, then steam cleaned or shampooed. Special smoke deodorizers can be added to the cleaning solutions. Wood or linoleum floors can be cleaned with Flax Soap. Re-waxing will be necessary.
Do not polish wood furniture prior to cleaning. First clean the furniture with a specialized wood furniture/cabinet cleaner; then polish the wood.
Feathers and foam will retain a smoke odor that is almost impossible to remove. The mattress will probably have to be replaced, but if it must be used, apply a cloth deodorizer and wrap it in plastic to conceal the odor. Keep in mind that an affected mattress may be a health hazard.
If everything has been cleaned and a lingering smoke odor remains, the following options may provide some additional relief:
- Purchase or rent an electrical powered deodorizer. Run it continuously for two - three days.
- Place several small dishes of activated charcoal or household vanilla around the house to absorb the odor.
- Hire a professional cleaning company.
The smoke odor is inside heating and air conditioning duct work and will be noticeable when the system is activated. The filter can be cleaned with specialized brushes and equipment that can be purchased.