How to reduce smoke damage

We understand that your will want you home or business back to normal as soon as possible, but it is important to wait until you have been advised that your property is structurally sound. National Home Repairs will provide you with professional advice on how to approach a smoke damaged property and we will work with you to return your home back to normal.

What are the main types of smoke damage?

There are three main types of smoke; these are ‘wet smoke’, ‘dry smoke’ and ‘fuel oil soot’.

  • Wet smoke is a low-heat, smouldering type of smoke that creates sticky residue which can warp books and documents.
  • Dry smoke is usually associated with high temperatures and fast burning fires (your property is most likely to be affected by dry smoke after fire damage).
  • Fuel oil soot is created when furnaces and other heat sources produce gritty puffs of soot and can be quite abrasive to household items such as books.

Whilst the treatment for each type of smoke should be slightly different the general behavioural pattern is the same; smoke tends to move to the top floor of a building, is attracted to cool areas and moves easily through plumbing and ventilation systems. By keeping valuable items away from these areas helps to prevent smoke damage.

What do to after you’ve suffered smoke damage

We have provided you with some useful tips below that can help reduce the chances of additional smoke damage:


Once you have been given the all clear, wear protective clothing, including gloves and a mask, before entering your property and begin opening windows to air out the entire property. Fans can help make the airing process more effective by being placed around the house to blow smoke towards open windows and doors.

Smoke stains

Before tackling smoke stains make sure windows are open to ventilate your property. Use a paint thinner or rub alcohol to carefully lift smoke stains. If the stains persist the best option is to repaint affected areas. Do not use water or cleaning agents on the stains as this is likely to make them spread and worsen.


If your property is wet or damp from fire hoses, use a combination of fans and dehumidifiers to dry out carpets and upholstery to prevent mould growing.

Linens, clothes and carpets

Deodorise and wash all clothing and linen that has been affected by smoke damage – some items may need to be washed more than once.

For larger items such as duvets, upholstery and carpets you might want to seek out a professional cleaner.

Removing soot

Soot is particularly tricky because it is oily, so it is a good idea to use a vacuum cleaner (with the nozzle a little off the fabric’s surface) to remove soot. Once the soot is removed, carpets and other clean items should be covered to avoid further smoke damage.


Throw away all food items that aren’t in sealed cans or tight containers. Food may have become contaminated by the smoke which could lead to food poisoning.


Use disinfectant to clean your household appliances, making sure your get into all the nooks and crannies since smoke damage can affect the mechanisms.

Books and documents

Handle books and documents with extreme care, smoke damage can cause books to become brittle. Gently lay books on a hard, flat surface and use a dry sponge to wipe down the main areas affected by smoke damage; this is usually the book’s spine and the top of the pages. Bear in mind that a wet sponge could spread stains more.

For more delicate or heavily damaged books we recommend you use our professional restoration services.

Brass and copper items

Remove and clean any brass or copper items using a specific brass or copper cleaner. Smoke damage can corrode brass and copper within 24 hours so it is important to act quickly.

Case Studies

View more Case Studies

Burst Water Tank
A burst 50 gallon water tank caused mains water to run through a 2 bedroom house undetected for 2 days.

Fire at Estate Agents
A fire caused by a faulty electrical socket in a kitchenette caused extensive smoke damage.

Water Damaged Property
Letting Agents in Hertford asked us to visit one of their landlords property which had been affected by water damage.

Bathroom Water Leak
We had a call from a distressed shop owner who had water coming through her ceiling when she opened up on a Saturday morning.


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