Due to a recent house fire caused by a forgotten chip-pan, we now have all the rooms of our house left sooty and smelling of smoke.

Luckily the fire department arrived within 2 minutes and had the fire out just as quickly, preserving all other rooms from fire damage.

How can we quickly and easily get rid of the smell which is now in every other room?

  • We have had all windows and doors open for 24 hours so far
  • We have wiped all surface, but they are left mostly gray
  • We have got rid of all materials such as clothing which havve been damaged
  • You may want to try a pan of vinegar. I don't for sure if that will help with the smoke smells; but I know it'll help with paint. So either way it might be worth a try (as you might want to re-paint those gray walls).
    – L.B.
    Jul 22, 2015 at 23:25

5 Answers 5


Seeing that there was no response to this question I did a google search for remove smell after house fire which lists some alternatives as to how to handle the smell after a fire. However none of the solutions seems to be quick and easy, or does guarantee anything.

A summary of what to do related to different areas affected by smoke are as follows:

  • Ventilate as much as possible — If available use extra fans to build a little overpressure and circulate the air throughout the house

  • Wash walls, surfaces, cupboards, ... — using either vinegar solutions, normal detergents, dish soap, or even careful usage of trisodium phosphate

  • Leave stuff to pick up the odourplain charcoal, bowls of vinegar, coffe powder, (heavy) incense
  • Baking soda and vacuum — For carpets and furniture, sprinkle baking soda on them, leave overnight and vacuum (preferably with a vacuum with HEPA filter)
  • Wash clothes — possibly repeat washing cycle (before drying clothes) with combinations of detergents, vinegar and washing soda
  • Ozone treatment — Do be aware that some consider this experimental, and there are risks involved

Even after doing all of these, then there seems to a general concensus that you do need time, and you'll reduce the smell but it is hard to remove it.

Some of the articles which I've based this answer upon are these:

  • 2
    In the end specialists came in from our insurance and ran an 'ozone machine' which neutralized the smell. I'll accept your answer as it still help others.
    – Terry
    Jul 16, 2015 at 22:19
  • Terry-would you mind editing that solution into your question? I think it would help people, especially since not everyone reads the comments. Thanks! Jul 21, 2015 at 16:09

My father was chemist and when the lab got smelly, he would be out pie pans of washing soda (sodium carbonate). Baking soda works, but much more slowly. Arm & Hammer is a familiar brand.

I used this method when a skunk sprayed in the house. It took 8-12 hours to eradicate the odor.

I believe the firm hired to clean my house after a fire used the same method, but they said it was a trade secret and would not reveal what chemical they used.


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Not sure if our pics are visible, but here goes. We bought a house on auction that previously had arson set to it. Almost a 100%gut! However...the areas we could save, we did. We used a primer called BIN which is shellac-based and seals in ALL odors in walls or surfaces that are paintable. Use tons of ventilation with BIN!

Dry chemical sponges were a bust. Don't waste your money. We used tons of vinegar, alternated with Dawn dishwashing soap. Much elbow grease was required. Now we have a beautiful, smoke-free home to show for it. I also have heard that ozone machines are great for furniture, etc. I've heard you have to use them sometimes multiple times for it to have a full effect.

  • Photos do show, if with black bars above and below. Can you please add who made them.
    – Willeke
    Jan 14, 2017 at 18:32

Aside from airing a room out, one of the most popular methods of getting rid of a smoky smell is leaving a bowl out filled with an odor-absorbing material. Charcoal, water with lemons, baking soda, onions, and vinegar are known remedies to strong household smells. Even leaving out a few buckets of water in problem areas can lead to a decrease in odors as well.


You can try these steps to remove soot, the smell of smoke and odors:

  1. Take out your undamaged curtains, pillows, cushions cover and wash it with hot lemon water and detergent to remove burnt particles and smell from the fiber.
  2. Use upholstery cleaner to the chairs, sofa and other furniture.
  3. With the disinfected cleaning solution, wash the floors.
  4. To clean the carpet well, sprinkle baking soda and keep it overnight for 24 hours if pertaining the strong smell.
  5. Use a Hepa-filter machine to deep cleanse the air.

Hope these steps work for you!

  • For some reason this was identified by the system as spam. It really seems like a helpful answer though and I really can't find a reason to mark it as spam or downvote it. The only potential issue I see with it is that on this site, people like to get advice to do the lifehack with things they already have around their house; however, I think with fire/smoke restoration there is only so much you can do with household items.
    – L.B.
    Feb 15, 2019 at 15:06

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