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Wish List for Your Home and Office – Removing Smoke and Odor from Walls

By Luke Armstrong

Experienced faulty wiring?  Cigarettes?  Candles?  House fire?  Even small fires can cause an extensive amount of smoke damage; the best way to avoid lasting damage is to remove as much of it as possible in as short a time as possible.  Beware though, smoke stains will smudge if you’re not careful when you try to remove them!  Check out the following tips from on how to remove stains safely and effectively:

Fire DamageSmoke Cleanup – Removing Smoke from Walls

What You Will Need:
• Rubber gloves
• Safety glasses
• Chemical dry-cleaning gloves
• Paint thinner or rubbing alcohol
• Soft cloth or sponge
• Fan, to help with ventilation
• Ladder or step stool
• Drop cloth

The Smoke Cleaning Process:
1. Start by properly ventilating the area. With harsh fumes from smoke and cleaning products, you will need ample air circulation with a fresh air source readily available.
2. Use safety goggles, especially when working overhead.  Rubber gloves will protect your hands from cleaning chemicals.
3. To avoid transferring the stain to the floor, lay a drop cloth on the floor under the area to be cleaned.
4. Use a ladder or step stool to reach high areas, and work from side to side and top to bottom.
5. A chemical dry cleaning sponge is the ideal way to remove soot from walls.  To use, wipe the stain with the completely dry sponge – no moisture is necessary.  When the sponge becomes saturated with soot, wash it out and allow to air dry.  (If you cannot find one of these sponges, skip to the next step).
6. After removing as much residue as possible, wet a soft cloth or sponge with paint thinner or rubbing alcohol.  (Do NOT use water-based cleaners!)  Gently wipe the remaining stain until gone.
7. Allow to air dry.

Odor Cleanup – Removing Odor from Walls

Because smoke will quickly spread and penetrate multiple surfaces, odors can be particularly hard to find and remove.  Even without obvious smoke damage, walls can absorb smoke odor and leach it back into the room.  Therefore, it is a good idea to clean walls after exposure to smoke, even if they don’t appear smoky or dirt.

What You Will Need:
• Plastic drop cloths
• Mild detergent
• Warm water
• Bucket
• Sponge or soft cloth
• Dry towel
• Ladder or step stool

The Odor Cleaning Process:
1. Begin by placing plastic sheeting around the base of the walls to avoid accidental water damage to flooring.
2. Use a ladder or step stool to reach the upper wall.  Start at the top and move from side to side and top to bottom as you work.
3. Fill the bucket with warm water and add just enough detergent to create a few bubbles (using too much detergent will leave residue on walls).
4. Wipe down the walls with soapy water using a soft cloth or sponge.  (Do NOT use water on a soot-stained wall.  Complete the soot and char removal process before moving on to this step).
5. Soak up extra moisture with the towel to prevent water damage.
6. Allow walls to air-dry in a well-ventilated room.

Remember: while you may not have been able to prevent the smoke damage from occurring, you can minimize its effects and prevent it from getting worse!

Here are the top three tips to keep it simple and save yourself extra work:  
1. Get the air moving.  Ventilate the area as soon as possible, by opening the windows and running fans.  If the area is wet, dry it out as soon as possible so the surfaces resist the odor and damage from sinking deeper into the materials of your house.
2. Dry wet items as soon as possible.  Use fans and dehumidifiers to dry carpets and draperies.  If not thoroughly dried, carpets and floors underneath may be quickly damaged beyond repair by mold and mildew.
3. Remove brass and copper items – Clean them using brass or copper cleaner (smoke can etch brass or copper in 24 hours).

Who can you recommend for smoke damage removal services? is a great resource for reliable smoke damage restoration and removal services in your area, as well as valuable articles and tips on how to minimize the damages yourself!  Simply visit the website, select your state from the menu and click on the featured service provider closest to your home. features ServiceMaster experts for everything from smoke damage cleanup to content restoration services across the nation.  These highly trained technicians are ready to handle emergencies around-the-clock, or schedule appointment times at your convenience.