Get Rid of the Smoke Smell After a Fire

Get Rid of the Smoke Smell After a Fire

In the aftermath of a fire, the last thing on most people’s minds is the smoky smell. Most people consider replacing damaged walls, furnishings, and materials before anything else. However, smoky odors are nothing to ignore. Smoke can linger forever. Don’t believe it? Consider this: items burned during the San Francisco fire of 1906 still smell like smoke today. And that burning smell isn’t just annoying; it’s dangerous. If the smell of smoke sticks around in your home after a fire, it’s time to take the proper steps to get rid of it.

Why Removing the Smoke Smell Is Difficult, But Important

Smoky odors do more than ruin the aesthetic of your Atascadero home. Where there is smoke, health hazards follow. Fire smoke seeps into clothing, building materials, and the human body with ease. It embeds itself in these materials and travels through HVAC systems, meaning that even rooms that didn’t have a fire may contain smoke residue and odors that require cleaning.

Depending on the materials damaged, the smoke could contain harmful chemicals. Additionally, the presence of smoke smells in the home indicates a risk of soot exposure. Soot is detrimental to humans, causing asthma, bronchitis, heart problems, and cancer. Removing soot is difficult; professionals need to handle the removal process to protect the home’s occupants from its ill effects.

Assess the Situation: DIY vs. Professional

Before any smoke removal begins, assess the situation at hand. Not all smoke smells are removable by DIY methods. Many DIY suggestions make the hazards of smoke worse. Be sure to examine whether the situation can be handled by conventional means or if a professional fire restoration service needs to be called in. 

  • Size of the Area Affected

Larger fires produce more smoke. The larger the fire, the more intensive the smoke restoration process will be. If the fire has impacted more than a single room or any HVAC system, call a professional.

  • Materials Damaged or Burned

Some materials produce extremely harmful chemicals when melted, burned, or otherwise damaged by fires. Synthetic materials, including carpets, couches, and clothes, emit chemicals when burned. Older homes with asbestos walls may have burned asbestos mixed with the smoke. Whenever a fire has burned hazardous materials, call a professional for proper restoration.

  • Length of Exposure

The longer smoke sits, the deeper into a surface it penetrates. Smoke restoration and odor removal ideally should occur within 24 hours of a fire. Smoke odors that have sat for months or even years may be nearly impossible to remove without throwing out affected materials, walls, and flooring.

  • DIY Failure

Tried every DIY method on the internet for smoke odor removal and still have the odors lingering? Call the professionals, because this signifies that a fire was strong enough to leave hazardous smoke throughout the house and heavy-duty tools need to be used to handle it.

DIY Methods

If fire damage is minor – for example, from a small cooking fire that impacted only a small area above the stove – DIY methods may be enough to remove the smoky odors. In most cases, they can at least help reduce smoke odors until professionals arrive.


Opening windows and doors should be the first step anyone takes to reducing smoke odors in a home. Be sure to have a fan pulling fresh air into the home or room on one end and another fan exhausting air from the house or space on the opposite side to create positive pressure and proper circulation.

Filter Replacement

After a fire, immediately replace A/C and heater filters. Smoke particles quickly clog filters, reducing their effectiveness against the hazardous particles in the air.

Washing and Scrubbing

Using dry sponges (also known as chemical sponges) to remove smoke stains and residue will help remove smoke odors. Scrubbing down walls, cleaning the carpet, washing all fabric materials in the home, and removing any damaged materials will also reduce smoke odors.

HEPA Filters

HEPA air filters, HEPA vacuums, and other HEPA products help remove smoke odors from a house by pulling smoke particles out of the air. These products are expensive, and professionals typically use them during their cleaning process.

Baking Soda and Charcoal

The old wives’ tale about leaving out a bowl of charcoal or coffee grounds and sprinkling baking soda on the carpet to remove odors holds some water. These materials absorb some odor, but they are not perfect and work best when used immediately after a fire.


Plenty of folks try to remove smoke odors by slapping paint over the damaged area. Painting works if the smoke has not penetrated through to the wall and is sufficiently clean before applying the paint.

Professional Methods

  • HEPA Filters

Professionals utilize HEPA filters to remove smoke particles from the air, either with an air purifier or a vacuum cleaner.

  • Air Scrubbers

Air scrubbers are super-powered HEPA filtration fans. A fan pulls smoke particle-filled air through several HEPA filters, which scrub the air free of smoke particles before sending the clean air back into the house.

  • Ozone Machines

Ozone machines oxidize smoke particles, effectively changing their molecular structure and rendering them odorless.

  • Hydroxyl technology

Hydroxyl radicals reduce VOCs from the air, breaking down smoke particles and improving air quality in the home.

  • Sealants & Painting

Professionals utilize sealants and paint at the end of the fire damage restoration process to prevent smoke from reappearing in a home.

Professional methods guarantee professional results. If you’re looking to move on from a fire but smoke odors linger, give the team at Central Coast Casualty Restoration, Inc. a call. Our certified experts are ready 365 days a year to restore your home after a fire. We’ll work with you to provide affordable restoration options and take the stress out of the process for you. Give us a call at (805) 835-3189 to get started on restoring your home today.

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