How do you clean up after a fire?

fire damage clean up for upstairs

Cleaning up after the disaster

A house fire is a devastating thing for anyone to go through, and this time of the year, it happens all too often. Sometimes, families displaced and other times, it is a contained fire, meaning the whole house isn’t a total loss, and after the fire clean-up process is complete, the occupants can return. This includes having the house inspected for any possible damage, and the damaged repaired or replaced, from the roof to the foundation. 

A house fire clean up isn’t a quick process. In addition, cleaning up the charred things, there is fire cleanup smoke damaged items too, and it is the smoke that lingers long after the charred items are gone.  If you have homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, your policy should have coverage to hire a fire clean up company. 

After all the charred items are out of the house, they will pack up everything from the drapes to the furniture, the clothing, pictures, knickknacks and more. Then they take it all back to their site where they do a deep fire clean up process. 

Can you die from smoke?

Fifty to 80 percent of deaths from a fire happened from smoke inhalation and respiratory system burns. The hot smoke injuries or deaths are by a combination of poisoning, pulmonary irritation, swelling, and thermal damage all caused by carbon monoxide and combustion able materials like cyanide. Therefore, occupants are not allowed back into a burned house until the fire clean up is complete.

Is it safe to stay in a house with smoke damage?

No, it is not safe to remain in a house that has gained smoke damage and fire clean up has been completed. Even after the house has been deep cleaned by a company or the occupant, there are particles and soot still around that aren’t visible. The odor alone from the smoke can travel through the vents and walls of the house, affecting everything from curtains, furniture, and belongings.

How dangerous is soot?

The particles of airborne soot are invisible and can affect you without you being aware. It enters the bloodstream and the health issues it creates can be serious and even lead to premature death. Until the fire clean up has been completed, these are some of those health issues are:

  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Cancer
  • Heart Attack
  • Respiratory issues
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Stroke

How do you remove smoke damage from metal?

Soot results from carbon-based material accumulating from wood and other materials burning, such as the byproduct result of a fireplace, or in the case of this article, a house fire. This is why regular cleaning is recommended for fireplaces, grills, and ovens so they can operate as intended without causing the user any harm. 

Over time, soot bakes onto metal and can be difficult to remove. The sooner that soot buildup is removed from metal, the easier it is to clean. Therefore, after a fire, it is important to hire a professional fire clean up company to start on a house immediately. If you leave soot on surfaces, the more it penetrates things and the less likely you’ll be able to get the smell of fire and smoke out of things. 

If a fire isn’t widespread, a homeowner may do a fire clean up on their metal items themselves by following this fire clean up tips:

  • Step One: In a bucket filled with hot water, add dishwashing liquid.
  • Step Two: Dip a scrubbing sponge into the bucket of soapy water and rub it over the soot deposits, back and forth to break off most of the soot.
  • Step Three: Mix in a spray bottle, equal amounts of warm water and white vinegar then spray over the remaining soot. The acid in the white vinegar will break up that remaining soot.
  • Step Four: Using a nylon scrub brush, rub against the leftover stubborn soot. Do not use a metal brush – that will scratch it.
  • Step Five: Using a damp rag, buff over the metal to remove the remaining soap or vinegar mixture, then dry with a dry rag.

How do I clean my house after smoke damage?      

After a fire, it is important to clean the smoke-damage for a healthy environment. Unfortunately, fire clean up and smoke damage cleanup aren’t easy. You can’t open a window to let it “air out”. Smoke and soot have an acidic nature challenging to remove, and the odor is not only unpleasant but breathing in that odor is harmful. So, how can you clean the smoke damage yourself? Once you have completed the fire clean up, the following will help with the smoke damage and odor removal:

  • Ventilation: Open the doors and windows, even if it is cold. The sooner you get fresh air in and the smoke smell out, the better. Do not turn on the HVAC system either – it has sucked in the same smoke and will spread it through the house that you’re trying to ventilate.
  • Protection: Wear proper protection, including a respirator, long pants, long sleeves, eyewear, gloves, and shoe protectors. Anything that isn’t damaged by smoke, cover it with plastic or remove it from the house.  
  • Vacuum: Smoke and soot are a smelly package, so vacuum all the loose soot particles from the furniture with the upholstery attachment. A shop-vac is better if you have one.
  • Dry-Clean Sponge: This is essential for success. using a dry-cleaning sponge, wipe the smoke and soot stains. Dry-Clean sponges have special chemicals that will remove stains from the walls with a gentle wiping motion. Keep turning the sponge to a clean side after a couple of wipes. Either slice the dirty sides off or use a new sponge when it is dirty all around.
  • Liquid Cleaners: After the dry-cleaning sponge has done all it can, take a clean rag and following the directions on a commercial-grade smoke/soot remover, or use paint thinner, rubbing alcohol, or white vinegar, soak the clean rag and wipe down all the walls in every smoke damaged area. This includes light fixtures and light bulbs. This step may need to be repeated several times. The wipe all areas again with a clear, clear wet rag.
  • Dry and Deep Clean: Once you have sufficiently cleaned all surfaces with the above steps, place fans throughout the house to speed up the drying process. You are still going to smell smoke for a few days, even a few weeks, as it takes time for it to totally dissipate.
fire damaged tv

Cleaning Fire Damage and Smoke Damage

If there was no loss of life or severe injuries from the fire, be thankful that cleaning up fire damage and smoke damage is all you need to do. The process of fire clean up and smoke cleanup is going to be difficult and take time. If the process is more than you can handle, there are professional fire restoration experts that can do the job for you in a matter of hours for most houses. Call (954) 548-5613 today for your fire damage cleanup in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade Counties, FL.