April 27th, 2020

The Ultimate Homeowners’ Guide: How to clean up after fire and smoke damage your home

By Nic Cornwell - Owner & Founder

With the risk of wildfires on the rise, there’s never been a better time to learn what you will need to do for your home after a fire. For Austin locals—like our team at Quick Dry Restoration—this is more important than ever. A recent report ranked Austin the fifth most at risk metropolitan area in the U.S. when it comes to wildfires, after California’s Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, and Sacramento. Unfortunately, San Antonio and Houston also round out the top 15.

We’re not here to scare you—we’re here to prepare you. In this episode of the Ultimate Homeowners’ Guide, it’s time to learn how to clean up after fire and smoke damage your home.

The Ultimate Homeowners’ Guide: How to Clean Up After Fire and Smoke Damage Your Home

Once you’ve been given the go-ahead to return to your home safely, the cleanup process can begin. It may seem arduous, but it is vital to remove as much fire and smoke damage as possible. You can do a lot of this work for yourself, or call in your local fire restoration professionals—like us!—if you’re not able to invest the time needed to complete the job.

Exterior Cleaning

If your home has gathered ash, there may be local by-laws that prevent you from rinsing this into storm drains. If that’s the case for your area, adjust your downspouts when cleaning your roof, so that the ash can wash onto landscaped areas.

Clean the exterior of your home and any other buildings once your roofing has been completely cleaned. Smoke can be notoriously difficult to clean off, so work slowly. Cleaning one section of your home at a time, and refreshing your detergent and water regularly, will help. Again, if there are by-laws about rinsing cleaning chemicals, be sure to dispose of your cleaning products correctly.

Leave cleaning sidewalks, driveways, and decking until last.

Interior Cleaning

If sprinkler systems, or fire hoses, have destroyed sections of your interior, your best option is to contact a professional restoration service to help you restore your interior.
If the interior damage is cosmetic, there are many things you can do for yourself.
Start by removing damaged or dirty furniture and contents. You can clean or dispose of these at a later time, once the interior has been cleaned thoroughly.

Install dehumidifiers if needed. Use a good quality vacuum with HEPA filters to vacuum residue off the ceilings, walls, and flooring. When emptying the vacuum, be sure to dispose of what you collect carefully.

If you don’t have access to specially designed cleaning products, these items may help with surface cleaning:

  • Metal: wipe with cooking oil to avoid staining and prevent rust
  • Paint: use mildly alkaline detergents on sooty surfaces
  • Plastic ; PVC: use mildly alkaline, non-foaming detergents
  • Curtains and soft furnishings: vacuum thoroughly, and then spot-treat stained areas with a mildly alkaline cleaner.
  • Odors: It is important not to use deodorizing products to mask odors until you’ve completed a safety inspection. The primary reason for this is that odors can be a significant indicator that there are still areas of concern in your home.


Even with these tips, some fire and smoke damage can be so extensive that calling in the restoration experts is the best choice for your home and your family. If you have concerns it is worth contacting a company qualified to carry out this work, for your—and your family’s—peace of mind.

Need help with fire and smoke damage quick? Call the #1 emergency fire restoration service for total peace of mind.


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