With so much of California under a cloud of wildfire smoke recently, the task of clean-up staggers the imagination. Just think about it—even the homes and businesses that escape the flames are layered with ash and soot. The air quality in a home exposed to intense smoke can present a hazard to health. Smoke particles can be harmful to young children, the elderly, and anyone suffering asthma and respiratory ailments. The longer porous materials such as fabric, carpet, drywall, window treatments, bedding, pillows and textiles are exposed to smoke, the more deeply the odor will be embedded.
Clean up is not just a matter of dusting off surfaces and covering up the odor with air freshener. The smoke odor will not just dissipate on it's own and requires professional attention. Every porous surface holds smoke odor and has to be thoroughly cleaned. Obviously, laundering towels, bedding and clothing is easier than dealing with smoke-saturated sofas, curtains, or carpeting.
Removing the odor of smoke from carpet and fabric is difficult and should be done by a professional. Soot than has accumulated on walls needs to be wiped down with special chemical sponges. All flooring and horizontal surfaces need to be thoroughly cleaned. There are a few things you can try if you want to reduce the odor initially. Placing bowls of distilled vinegar throughout the structure will help absorb some of the odor, just remember to keep it out of reach of children and animals! Installing special activated carbon/charcoal filters in your HVAC system helps tremendously in reducing overall smoke odor. Placing additional hepa air machines with activated carbon filters in various rooms is an additional level of deodorizing. Vacuum frequently, using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate absorbing) filter.
In the end, the best choice is to skip the DIY and call a professional IICRC certified restorer and cleaner. There is no substitute for hot water extraction when dealing with the removal of soot and smoke odor from carpet, upholstery and tile/grout. Your home and furnishings are a huge investment and you want to insure your investment is returned to it's odor-free, pre-fire condition. Call a professional to provide you with valuable advice and an estimate that can be submitted to your insurance company!