What can I do About Smoke Damage?

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  • Written By: Nychole Price
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 February 2020
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Smoke damage is a frustrating problem that occurs after a fire in your home. The characteristics of smoke damage are soot and blistering on the walls and a smoky odor throughout the home. There are several companies out there that will handle the cleaning and odor removal for you, but they can be costly if you don't have homeowners or renters insurance. If this is the case for you, there are several things you can do to clean up after a fire.

During a fire, drywall absorbs the smoke, causing a smoky odor to remain long after the fire has been extinguished. In order to remove the odor, the drywall will need to be replaced. While the drywall is down, it is advised to replace the insulation, as it is likely to have absorbed smoke as well. Other areas of the home such as ceiling tiles, beams and rafters may also need to be replaced due to smoke damage.


Soot on walls that are painted with a semi-gloss or high-gloss paint is easily removed. Soot can be removed from a wall that was painted with flat paint but it will require a lot more effort. To remove the soot you will need to purchase a Trisodium Phosphate, or TSP, cleaner which is available at your local home improvement store. Mix a solution of 1 tablespoon TSP (14.8 milliliters) cleaner to 1 gallon (3.8 liters) of warm water. Scrub the walls with the solution, making sure to wear gloves and goggles.

Bubbles and/or blisters in the paint is another characteristic of smoke damage that is caused by extreme heat. This can be repaired by scraping off the bubbles or blisters with a putty knife and sanding it down until it is smooth. Use spackle to fill in any dents or holes and allow the area to dry. Sand down the spackled area and use touch up paint where needed.

Fresh air is the key to removing the odor caused by smoke damage, so leave the windows open whenever possible. Clean all the furniture with baking soda and water to remove the smoke odor that they absorbed. If the furniture covers are removable, wash them in hot water with baking soda. Activated charcoal works well in removing the smell of smoke from the air. Place the charcoal in bowls and position them strategically throughout the house.

Depending upon the size of the fire, and the extent of the smoke damage, some professional help may be needed. Strong smells of smoke are not removable with standard procedures and may require the use of ozone neutralizers or VaporTek equipment.


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Post 2

I have smoke damage from a fire in my upstairs bedrooms. How do I know if it will affect my drywall and insulation downstairs? I have an open stairwell.

Post 1

There are some aspects of smoke damage that can be reversed, but in general anything that has been damaged by smoke will need to be replaced entirely. That is one of the only ways to get rid of that smoke smell which can be so pervasive and so unpleasant.

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