Here are the tips the IICRC recommends to anyone having to clean up after a fire:
- Practice safety first. Use a dust mask (like painters use) and gloves as you work.
- Ventilate the home. Place a box fan in an open window to draw the air and dust out.
- Clean from top to bottom. Start with the ceilings, walls and fixtures, and work your way down to the contents of the room, then to the floor.
- Vacuum floors and upholstery. Make sure your vacuum cleaner has a high efficiency filter. Otherwise, you risk blowing soot back into the air.
- Some draperies, clothing and machine-washable items may be laundered. Use a mild alkaline cleaner to neutralize the acid in the soot. Fine clothing should be dry cleaned.
- Most exterior walls (brick, stone, wood, paint, siding) and eaves can be cleaned by spraying with a detergent, agitating soot with a soft-bristled brush, pressure washing from bottom to top, then rinsing from top to bottom.
- If the damage and residue are heavy, it may be best to hire a professional to thoroughly restore your home and belongings. The IICRC has a free hotline to find trained and certified professionals in your area. Call (800) 835-4624 or click here for a list of certified firms in your area.
- Check with your insurance company to see if smoke damage from outdoor sources is covered by your policy.
- If the fire has warped or distorted the structure, consult a licensed general contractor.