Cleaning the damage that is caused by a fire is the easy part. The more difficult task at hand is making sure that not only is the odor from the smoke and soot removed, but that it doesn’t come back later.

Here are the steps you need to take to ensure that the odor is gone once and for all:

  1. First, you must remove any structural components that have visible char or any items that have fire damage.

  2. You need to thoroughly clean all materials, both structure and contents, that were affected. This cleaning must be very detailed. Use cotton towels, micro fiber cloths and lots and lots of Q-Tips. After the affected item or area is cleaned and Q-Tip checked for thoroughness, you are ready for the next step. There are several really good industry specific cleaning solutions you can use when cleaning: Wall Wash, Degrease All, Ultrasonic Liquid Cleaner and Woodcreme Restorer to name a few. You will also want to have everyday cleaning items like Windex and 409 to use when necessary.

  3. Use a wet deodorization solution when possible. Be sure to mix it to the dilution instructions on the bottle. More is not good in this instance, so do not use too much solution or you can damage fabrics and materials. After a wet process has been applied, your next step is to use Hydroxyl.

  4. It is imperative that you have a system in place that allows a second person to check for odor in all areas and on all items that have been cleaned and deodorized after they have had some dwell time. If odor is present, go back to step two and repeat. Once the item has gone through this process a second time, it may need to be logged and destroyed.

  5. Any areas of the structure that are raw unfinished wood may need to be soda blasted to removed soot or sealed with a white pigmented shellac paint to seal in any possible odors.

  6. All cardboard and papers that were exposed to smoke or soot will likely need to be disposed of. They are very absorbent and will hold a lot of odor in. This does not apply to books.

  7. Always clean in a warm environment as odor can appear to be gone when the temperature is cooler and present when the temperature rises.

  8. As a final step in your odor removal process you should do a walk through of the structure checking for any and all odor present. As for the contents, do the same with a final odor check after the items have been kept at warm room temperatures for a few hours after cleaning. Have two different people from your team do this as a double check.

 I cannot stress enough that even the tiniest soot particle that is left behind can cause odor to re-contaminate the structure or contents that have been cleaned. So be very detailed in your cleaning and you will not have a problem with odor.