A fire in or near your home often results in lingering smoke odors. For minor or brief fires, natural methods are often enough to remove the smoky smell. In some situations, more intensive methods may be required, as smoke odors permeate everything from fabrics to furniture. Even the walls and ceiling may smell of smoke, and cleaning them is a good way to remove the final traces of odor.
Air It Out
Fresh air is one of the best ways to get rid of both smoke and odors after a fire. If there's an active wildfire or another type of fire outside, don't air out the house yet, as those outdoor odors will come inside.
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Open all the windows in the affected area. For instance, if food caught fire on the stove because someone wasn't watching the pan, open all the kitchen windows and doors as well as any other windows and doors on the same floor. Smoke odors often travel throughout the house, so open any other windows as well if you smell smoke on another floor. Place a box fan blowing outward in at least one window or doorway to draw out smoky air. Leave the windows open as long as possible.
Smoke sometimes permeates closed cabinets too. Open all the cabinet, cupboard, and pantry doors and leave them open while you air out the home. Even open kitchen drawers if you notice any trace of odor in them.
Baking Soda Odor Absorber
Baking soda excels at removing odors, even of the smoky variety. It's a great way to refresh the carpet, as carpet fibers absorb odors and could otherwise reek of smoke for a long time. Baking soda also absorbs odors from upholstered furniture.
Sprinkle baking soda liberally over all carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, and even mattresses affected by the smoke. Let it sit for at least several hours and then vacuum it up using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. The filter helps block the odor from blowing back out into your home. Empty the vacuum cleaner into trash bags, tie the bags closed, and place the bags in a trash can outdoors.
Washing to Remove Odors
Clothing, curtains, and hard surfaces all benefit from washing after a fire. Add 1 cup of vinegar to the wash cycle when washing clothing, curtains, or towels, as the vinegar helps remove odors. If the items still smell like smoke after washing, wash them again. Let them air-dry on a clothesline outside or in a well-ventilated area, as using a dryer could set the odors into the material.
Wipe down hard, washable surfaces, such as windows and kitchen counters, with a squirt of dish soap in a mix of vinegar and water. The soap helps loosen any filmy residue, and the vinegar does the same while removing odors. Wipe plastic toys and similar materials with the same mixture or even straight vinegar. Wear rubber gloves if you are working with plain vinegar, as it may sting if you have any cuts. Use the same solution to wipe down washable wall coverings and virtually any surface that may have soot or a bit of a smoke odor.