A minor amount of smoke or smoke odor emanating from a fireplace may be tolerable, but if your house fills with smoke or reeks of burnt wood long after the fire has been extinguished, extra measures are in order. Open the windows after the fire is out and deodorize the space by washing down smoke-scented surfaces.
Ridding a Room of Smoke
If your home fills with smoke because of wet wood or a fireplace damper that wasn't opened all the way, open windows or doors as soon as possible once the fire has been extinguished and is no longer smoldering. If the fire is still burning when you open windows, the air flow in the room may draw even more smoke into the space.
- Place a box fan or window fan in the same room as the fireplace, if possible, drawing air out of the room. Place another fan in a window on the opposite side of the house, pulling fresh air in. The fans speed up the smoke-removal process.
- Place bowls of vinegar or baking soda around the space to help absorb odors. Wave a cloth dipped in vinegar around the room to neutralize the odor quickly after much of the smoke has dissipated. Make sure the cloth is damp -- not soaking wet -- to avoid splashing vinegar around the room.
Removing Ash and Burnt Wood
If the house smells smoky days after you've used the fireplace, ashes, burnt wood and creosote residue inside the fireplace may be contributing to the odor. Remove ashes with a fireplace shovel and deposit them in a trash bag, or vacuum them up with a shop vac. If the ashes prove too messy, sprinkle damp coffee grounds over them first -- the grounds also help absorb odors. Wipe down glass doors on the fireplace with equal parts vinegar and water; then wipe down the inside of the fireplace area with vinegar to help remove lingering odor.
Deodorizing the House
Smoke smell tends to stick around long after a fire burns out. You may have to clean quite a few items to remove the smell completely -- especially in the area nearest the fireplace.
- Sprinkle baking soda over carpets, throw pillows and upholstered items; then vacuum up the powder after an hour or so. Repeat the process if the items still smell of smoke.
- Wipe down washable walls with equal parts water and white vinegar. Wash the inside of the windows with the vinegar mixture as well, using a lint-free cloth to wipe them down.
- Wash machine-washable drapes or curtains, or spritz them with a light mist of equal parts water and white vinegar. Test the vinegar on an inconspicuous area first to ensure it does not discolor the window treatments.
- Leave bowls of baking soda or vinegar around the room, far out of reach of pets or young children. Place a bowl of baking soda inside the fireplace area, leaving it in a place you'll easily notice before you use the fireplace again.
Hire a professional chimney and fireplace technician to check your fireplace and chimney if you frequently notice a smoke odor when you believe you shouldn't. The fireplace or chimney may have maintenance issues that require attention, causing the smoke to enter your home instead of travel up the chimney.
Wait several days after extinguishing a fire to clean out the fireplace to prevent potential burns.
Kathy Adams is an award-winning writer. She is an avid DIYer that is equally at home repurposing random objects into new, useful creations as she is at supporting community gardening efforts and writing about healthy alternatives to household chemicals. She's written numerous DIY articles for paint and decor companies, as well as for Black + Decker, Hunker, SFGate, Landlordology and others.