A fire incident is more than just a cause of distress. You see, even if you’re lucky to see everyone come out of it unharmed and the property damage is minimal, the smell of smoke alone can be quite a problem. First, it will serve as a reminder of a stressful experience. Second, it will make the aroma spreading around the place unbearable. Still, how do you get rid of the fire smoke, and, more importantly, how do you get rid of it the right way around? Here are a couple of tricks to help you get started.
Establish What You’re Dealing With
The first task you have is to try and establish exactly how big of fire damage it actually is. Here, there are several factors you want to take into consideration.
- The amount of smoke is directly proportional to the size of the fire. You see, the particles of burned items will get absorbed into the porous objects like the walls, the ceiling, and the furniture. The more burned items there are, the more numerous these particles will be.
- The specific material burned may also make a difference. For instance, burned cosmetics will create a more persistent, greasy layer than their wooden counterparts. This is also a great lesson for the future, seeing as how, after this fire, you’re bound to be more careful about where you place which of your items.
- Other than just the size of the fire, you also need to establish the duration of the incident. The longer it took you to extinguish the fire, the deeper the infestation of these particles on the surfaces within your home.
- The size of your home makes a difference, as well, seeing as how a bigger room has a smaller concentration of this odor. With smaller rooms, these things are much harder to ignore.
Once you have the initial report, it will become a lot easier to get rid of the fire smoke. After doing the recount of the fire damage, it’s important to think past the smell alone and focus on the future of your home’s fire safety. This is one of the reasons why, the next time you start equipping your home, you might want to think about fire retardants as another contingency plan.
Air Out the House
Can airing out solve this problem on its own? Of course not! If it were that easy, you wouldn’t have needed this article to begin with. However, it does help, and it helps immensely. So, the circulation of fresh air is the first thing you need to provide.
Opening all your windows is not the way to do this either. What you need to do is make a draft, which is why you want to open the front door, the door to the room in question, and close all but one window.
If you have a fan, you want to use it as well. Anything you can do to increase the intensity of the flow of fresh air throughout the house. Keep in mind that, since the intensity is the desired result, you need to turn it to the maximum setting.
While it takes some time for this method to give effect, you can’t do it indefinitely (at least not effectively). This is why this entire process shouldn’t last for more than 15 minutes.
Cleaning the Surfaces
Even though the odor that you find so troublesome was caused by the smoke and even though it still smells like the smoke, your problem is now in a solid state. The problem is that it’s so tiny that you can’t see it with your bare eye. As we’ve mentioned, it’s no longer the smoke itself but the particles of burned materials that are forming layers in your home’s surfaces. Naturally, the logical next step would be to start cleaning these surfaces in order to see what effect you can achieve.
While the walls seem like the most logical culprit, the truth is that you should start elsewhere. You need to remove curtains, rugs, furniture covers, blankets, decorative pillows, and really anything else that’s fabric-based. The reason behind this is the fact that you can remove the smell of smoke from these items the easiest. When it comes to carpets, you might want to look for specialized cleaners.
Next, you want to wash the windows. Seeing as how windows are smooth and not nearly as porous as the walls, it will be quite easy to effectively clean them. This means that, once you wash them, the job around them is done.
The furniture in your home should be cleaned with a solution made out of dish soap, white vinegar, and water. Using baking soda by sprinkling it onto these affected surfaces and letting it sit for a day is also quite effective. Remember, this is not a spring cleaning where you can wrap things up in one afternoon.
Lastly, tend to your ventilation and your HVAC system. In fact, cleaning your air duct is a good idea even without a fire incident. This way, you will prevent the re-circulation of particles once you’re done.
Paint the Walls
No matter how thoroughly you’ve scrubbed them, there’s only so much that cleaning your walls can do. However, the paint absorbs odors, which means that you should never start with a paint job. You need to air and clean the place first and paint it second.
- Preparing for the room painting is a bit different after the fire. You want to wash the walls with a cleaning solution containing glycol (or ammonia). There’s nothing more effective at neutralizing odors than these two elements. Once you’re done, give the room some time to breathe, and these compounds some time to dry.
- Next, you should go to your hardware store and ask for an odor-locking primer. This will create an odor-resistant barrier between the particles of smoke and the coat of paint that you plan to slap across it. Once again, read the label and give this primer the appropriate amount of time to dry.
- Lastly, the choice of paint makes a world of difference as well. Ideally, you should choose latex paint, seeing as how it’s more efficient at sealing these odors.
All of this needs to be done prior to hanging anything or returning the furniture.
Refresh the Air
Keep in mind that even after all of this is done, you have a few ways to further enhance the ambiance of the place. A dehumidifier, for instance, is an incredibly effective way to dry out the home and prevent the spread of bacteria feasting on these smoke particles.
Setting up a bowl of activated charcoal somewhere in the room can do wonders by absorbing this smoky odor. A homemade alternative to his solution is a combination of kitty litter, baking soda, and coffee grind. Keep in mind that there’s really nothing preventing you from going with both of these solutions at the same time.
Investing in an air purifier or an essential oil diffuser is another great idea. These appliances can improve the smell of a room even if it didn’t undergo a fire incident. This way, you just have one more reason to try it out.
Having a plan will greatly help you in containing the effects of this fire disaster. Fortunately, the preferred course of action here is really not that difficult. Overall, you need to:
- Assess the damage
- Let the air in
- Clean the surfaces
- Paint the room
Most importantly, you need to ensure that this type of incident doesn’t happen again. Also, since you’ve undergone all of this effort to clean out the place, you may want to rethink your smoking indoor policy.