March 16, 2022

How Does Smoke Damage Affect the Contents of Your Home

A house fire is everyone’s worst nightmare. There are so many different scenarios to how a fire can play out—it can be blazing or smoldering, it can be contained to one room of the house, or it can burn down large sections of the house…No matter the scenario, it is something no one ever wants to have to face. But if the unthinkable has happened, you need to be ready, as the aftermath of a fire can be just as important to the safety of yourself and loved ones, as well as the salvageability of your prized belongings and household items.

After a fire, you need to take action. While the best course of action is to call Onsite Restoration immediately and have our IICRC Certified experts take over. Read on, for some things you should know and take action on, and some things to never do after a house fire:

Act Fast! Timing is Everything

When it comes to cleaning smoke damage from household items, you will want to start right away—of course, only once safe for you to go back in your home. As you assess smoke damage, we suggest looking at what types of materials your items are made from; some materials are more resistant to soot while others are more porous. It is important to be mindful of the type of materials you have in your house because after a fire you will be able to possibly save more items if you can prioritize which items to clean first based on its sensitivity.

Make the call! Timing is the most crucial factor in successful smoke remediation and restoration. Contact Onsite Restoration immediately after a fire.

Within Minutes

Anything that is porous needs first priority. Damage to any items that are of porous or synthetic material can become irreversible if you do not act fast. The most common damage that occurs to these materials is permanent discoloration. Flooring like tile, marble, and wood is considered porous. Use an alkaline cleaner for plastics and vegetable oil soap, like Murphy’s Oil Soap, for wood.

Make sure to wear rubber gloves. Do not touch, wash, or clean anything with your bare skin. The oil from your skin can transfer to the item, which helps to set the soot.

Within Hours to Days

Metals can start to rust and corrode within hours to days due to acidic soot. While waiting for the local experts at Onsite Restoration to arrive, you can wipe any metal items down with cooking oil—this will buy you more time for a more thorough cleaning later. The oil acts as a barrier so it is not as porous. Don’t forget that most large appliances are made of metal, such as all your kitchen appliances and your washer and dryer. If the wood is finished, use an all-purpose cleaner.

When in doubt, do not attempt to clean on your own. Without the right cleaning equipment, you may worsen the problem or spread soot to other parts of your home, all while exposing your skin & lungs to the soot and smoke. 

Onsite Restoration has the necessary protective clothing and uses special equipment, including HEPA vacuums and alkaline cleaners. You should never attempt to vacuum your carpet or upholstery with a standard vacuum as it can force soot deeper, making more damage. Call on our Tampa Bay fire restoration experts to help return your home to pre-loss condition. 

Lingering Smoke Damage and Your Health

Smoke damage and soot not only affect the contents of your home but can also cause severe damage to your health. We all know smoke inhalation is not good for your lungs or overall health, but did you know that heavy smoke damage and lingering soot can cause a whole host of other health problems? This is why it is extremely important to contact Onsite Restoration in the aftermath of a fire.


Smoke damage leaves behind thick black, acidic soot. Soot is a combination of tar and carbon and will coat anything and everything it comes in contact with. If soot is not properly mitigated and remediated, inhaling soot over an extended amount of time will cause permanent damage to the lungs. Prolonged exposure can also increase the risk of cancers, including a risk of cancer to the lungs, esophagus, skin, and bladder.

Carbon Dioxide

Carbon dioxide is a deadly, but odorless gas that is left behind after a fire. You cannot see or smell carbon dioxide, but it can cause short and long-term issues when inhaled such as respiratory issues, eye irritation, and skin damage. Skin can also be irritated or damaged from smoke if it gets on clothing and furniture.

At Onsite Restoration in Tampa, we will work with you every step of the way. We not only assist in home restoration through proper ventilation, cleaning, debris removal, and odor neutralization, but our pros can also assist with insurance claims, public adjusters, and engineers to ensure your project is completed safely as well as professionally.

What NOT to do After a Fire

While waiting for the experts at Onsite Restoration to arrive, there are several things you should NOT attempt to do on your own. We strongly recommend and discourage homeowners to not engage in certain activities that may cause more harm to you, your belongings, or your home.

  • Do not attempt to clean or turn on any electrical appliances. Also do not use any electrical outlets.
  • Do not turn on any ceiling fans or fixtures. In addition to any damaged wiring, ceilings fans will disperse and spread soot.
  • Do not use or eat any canned or prepackaged food or drinks.
  • Do not wash any clothing items. Improper cleaning may set smoke odor.
  • Do not vacuum or shampoo any rugs or upholstery. Using regular vacuums may force soot deeper.
  • Do not attempt to move any wet materials. They can be very heavy!

 Restoring Damage After a Fire

Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to mitigate and remediate your home after a fire. You may not only be dealing with fire damage but may also need a certified team of technicians that will assist with water and flood damage that was left behind by the firefighters.

Just as fires do not take a break, neither do we .We are available 24/7, 365 days a year. If you are in Hillsborough, Pasco, or Pinellas Counties, contact Onsite Restoration at 813-579-5789 or email us at to schedule a consultation that will begin your restoration process!