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Preparing Your Home for Sale: How to Remove Smoke Damage

By Luke Armstrong

Did your last attempt at culinary greatness get out of hand? Did you get distracted while leaving a dish on the stove? Did an errant candle burn too brightly (and right through your curtains)? Even a small fire can produce a lot of smoke, leaving soot and odors that penetrate carpet, upholstery, clothing and other porous materials. If you are planning on selling your home, it is really important to remove any past evidence of smoke damage.

Week 3 – The Dos and Don’ts of Removing Smoke Damage

Cleaning smoke damage is not an easy task, but it can be completed successfully if you keep the following tips (courtesy of ServiceMaster) in mind:

Fire damageDO:
•    Cover carpeted traffic areas with towels or old linens to prevent additional soiling.
•    Discard open food packages. The food could be contaminated.
•    Tape cheesecloth over intake and outlet air vents to capture any loose soot in the air. This is even more effective if the cheesecloth is damp.
•    If electrical service is off, clean out your freezer and refrigerator. Leave the doors propped open or place charcoal in the unit.
•    Clean Formica and chrome fixtures in the kitchen and bathroom to prevent permanent tarnishing.
•    Blow off or brush-vacuum loose soot particles from upholstery, drapes and carpets.
•    Wipe residue from porcelain bath fixtures to prevent etching.
•    Wipe the leaves of houseplants to remove smoke residue.
•    Change the air filter on your furnace if it uses forced hot air.
•    If the outside temperature is above 60 degrees, air out the house to reduce smoke odor.

•    Wash any papered or flat painted walls without consulting your professional cleaner. Incorrect cleaning procedures could compound the soot residue problem.
•    Clean carpets or upholstered furniture.
•    Use electrical appliances that have been close to fire or water before having them checked. They could malfunction.
•    Use ceiling fixtures if the ceiling is wet. A short circuit could result.
•    Touch anything. Soot on your hands can permeate upholstery, walls and woodwork, causing further damage.
•    Wait to call for professional help.

Who can you recommend for smoke damage cleaning services? is a great resource for professional smoke damage cleaning services in your area! Simply visit the website, select your state from the menu and click on the featured service provider closest to your home.

Our smoke damage repair services start by evaluating the extent of the damage and the condition of your property.  Depending on the situation, our ServiceMaster smoke damage clean up specialists can use air scrubbers, thermal fogging and ozone treatments to remove smoke and odor particles. In some cases, smoke damage removal may require multiple treatments. For complete cleaning services, contact your local ServiceMaster specialist listed on