Things to do after a fire

If you’ve been touched by a home fire, we here at Dririte of Tampa know there are some key things to take care of first to ensure your home is clean. Here’s a key list of things to do.

Exterior:

  • Pressure wash, scrub or clean all exterior surfaces including walls, walks, drives, decks, window and deck screens, etc. Most pressure washers can be rented or are available for purchase through home improvement stores.
  • Clean smoke-covered windows by adding one part rubbing alcohol to five parts window cleaner.
  • If aerial fire retardant or firefighting foam residue is present on your home or vehicles, use a mild detergent and brushes to scrub and dilute the dried residue; rinse with clean water. A follow-up with pressure washing may be beneficial but will not replace scrubbing to remove the residue.
  • Ash and soot on the ground and vegetation will continue to generate smoke odors. Use a garden hose to gently spray residue from vegetation.

Interior:

  • Wash all interior walls and hard surfaces with mild soap or other appropriate cleaning solutions or products, and rinse thoroughly. Don’t forget inside cabinets, drawers and closets. Always test your cleaning process on a small, inconspicuous area to determine effectiveness.
  • Launder or dry clean all clothing.
  • Wash, dust or otherwise clean all household items, including knick-knacks.
    Clean and deodorize carpets, window coverings, upholstered furniture and mattresses using commercially available cleaning solutions or products.
  • Treat upholstery, fabric window treatments, etc. with deodorizing products available at most supermarkets.
  • Change filters when you first return to the premises and at least once a month for the first year.
  • Inspect heating, ventilating and air conditioning units and all ductwork. If soot, ash and smoke residue are found have these areas professionally cleaned before use.

Tips for odor removal:

  • Increase air flow by opening windows, turning on fans or even putting particularly smelly items outside.
  • Remove minor smoke film from washable surfaces by using a solution of heavy-duty cleaner or degreaser and a dash of water-soluble deodorizer from a local supermarket or home improvement store.
  • If the smoke film is heavy on a washable item, locate a dry cleaner that offers ozone treatment. An easy way to locate these suppliers is through Certified Restoration Dry Cleaning Network (www.crdn.com).
  • To clean smoke-covered windows, add one part rubbing alcohol to five parts window cleaner.
  • Light smoke film on acoustic ceiling tile can be removed by professional ceiling cleaners, but heavy buildup requires replacement of the tile. If you consider painting, remember that painting removes the acoustic properties of these tiles.
  • Clean carpets to remove smoke odor. Either rent a carpet steam cleaner and clean the carpets yourself or hire a professional. If you hire a professional ask if they use environmentally-responsible products for carpet cleaning.
  • Upholstered furniture, draperies and carpeting can be wet- or dry-cleaned, as appropriate, after a thorough vacuuming, with water-soluble deodorizer added to the cleaning solution to control residual smoke odor.
  • For large areas, fill small dishes with vanilla, vinegar or activated charcoal for an easy, inexpensive smoke eater. Or, you can purchase odor neutralizer from a supermarket which should work for effectively.
  • Use baking soda to get rid of smoke odor. Dust the furniture and the carpets with the baking soda and let settle for a day or so. Then vacuum it up and repeat the process a few more times over the course of a week.
  • Change the filter in the air and/or heat circulation systems.
  • If odor is overwhelming or does not dissipate, seek professional help.

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