How to Clean Smoke Damaged Furniture: From Fabrics & Leather to Wood

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: March 26, 2024

It isn’t scorched, but it’s covered in soot and smells like smoke. The sofa survived along with chairs and tables. Still, you’re dealing with the aftermath of a home fire, and you’re facing a house full of smoke-damaged furniture.

It isn’t a total loss, but you aren’t sure about how to get smoke damage out of furniture. Where do you start?

We understand what you’re up against. We provide fire restoration services to Chicago homeowners every day, and we’re often asked about the best way to take care of smoke-damaged furniture.

How to Get Smoke Damage Out of Furniture: Professional Techniques and Tips

When we covered cleaning the house after a fire, we heard from many of you who wanted information about how to clean smoke-damaged furniture. You can’t always salvage everything, but these techniques and tips can help.

1. Fabric-Covered Furniture

Fibers in upholstery fabrics are very efficient traps that hold on to smoke odors. After a fire, furniture that looks fine can actually contaminate the air as it slowly releases smoke and soot particulates throughout your home.

  • Carefully vacuum soot from fabric with a flat brush attachment.
  • Sprinkle upholstery with baking soda, let sit for 24 hours, vacuum, and repeat.
  • Pull off all removable covers, and machine-wash in cold water.
  • Hang covers outside when possible to speed up drying and eliminate odors.
  • Lightly spray cleaned fabric with a product formulated to deodorize smoke-damaged fibers.

Power Tip: Power up odor removal in the washing machine by adding 1 cup of white vinegar to the first cycle.

2. Leather Furniture

The qualities that make leather so luxurious also make it impossible to treat like fabric upholstery. Don’t let it get too wet during the cleaning process, and work carefully to avoid scratching the material.

  • Vacuum up soot by holding a flat brush attachment just above leather surfaces.
  • Gently clean with a soft cloth and quality leather soap or conditioner.
  • Deodorize with a mixture of vinegar and water followed by a light rinse with a damp cloth.
  • For stubborn smells, sprinkle leather with baking soda, let sit overnight, vacuum, and repeat.

Power Tip: Steam cleaning can salvage some smoke-damaged leather furniture, but it’s not a DIY project. Talk with a restoration contractor about your options.

3. Wood Furniture and Trim

It’s easy to damage or strip the finish on wood furniture after it’s been exposed to smoke and high temperatures. Take your time, and always use quality soot cleaning products and polishing creams.

  • Use a flat brush vacuum attachment to pick up soot from wood.
  • Remove soot embedded in grain by wiping in straight lines with a dry chemical sponge.
  • Finish by lightly wiping wood surfaces with a damp cloth.
  • Let furniture dry, and restore finish with a wood polish or conditioner.

Power Tip: If you use a heavy cream restoring polish, don’t leave it on wood surfaces for more than 10 minutes.

Please Be Careful

We want you to understand the risks involved in DIY fire damage cleanup. Microscopic particles of soot that create a film on fabric and wood also contaminate the air in affected rooms throughout your home. Before getting started with any fire cleanup project, we ask that you be careful and take all necessary precautions to protect your health.

If you have any doubts about tackling this type of work by yourself, please call a fire restoration specialist who safely takes care of the job with:

  • Specific processes for salvaging all types of furnishings.
  • Highly trained, certified technicians with years of experience.
  • Advanced equipment and industry proven products.

Need Help in the Chicago Area? Turn to ServiceMaster by Zaba

upholstery cleaning

As the city’s leading fire damage cleanup company, we know how hard it is to face recovery after a house fire.

If you’d like more details about cleaning up fire-damaged furniture, our teams are always happy to share our expertise.

We’re here to help, and we’re here with the best fire restoration services in Chicago and the suburbs.

Just give us a call at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba: 773-647-1985

How do you clean smoke-damaged area rugs?

Before trying to clean a smoke-damaged area rug, make sure you know its materials. If the rug is washable, carefully vacuum it to remove soot, and gently wash according to manufacturer’s instructions. Let restoration specialists handle smoke-damaged Oriental and silk rugs.

How do I know when I can’t salvage smoke-damaged furniture?

Try repeating recommended cleaning methods for furniture upholstery and wood. If smoke odors still remain and the weather allows, set furniture outside for several days. Ask a fire damage restoration professional for advice.

Can mold grow in smoke-damaged furniture?

Yes. If furniture got wet when the fire was extinguished, it’s considered both smoke- and water-damaged. It’s difficult to treat moldy upholstery, cushions and padding. Let certified restoration technicians take care of moldy furniture.