Ask Our Experts: Dealing with Smoke Damage

Fire and smoke damage can be ugly. If it's small, can you clean it up yourself?

Fire and smoke damage can be ugly. If it’s small, can you clean it up yourself?

Text Copyrighted (c) by the Tuckey Companies, 2017.

Question for Our Experts:

What’s the deal with smoke damage?  Can I clean it up myself, or do I need a pro to get that “smokey” smell out of my home?



Our Experts’ Answer:

Short Answer

It could be possible to deal with minor smoke damage on your own.  However, most significant cases of smoke damages will require professional clean-up, as smoke damage is not always visible and often requires special cleaning agents or partial building reconstruction.  Read on for more info!

Detailed Answer

It may be easiest to break this question down into multiple, more detailed questions – as follows:


  • How does smoke damage typically present itself?  Obviously, smoke damage is present after a fire or other source of smoke has affected a building.  Interestingly, smoke damage may not always be visible.  In other words, homeowners/building owners should not assume that smoke damage doesn’t exist simply because they don’t see “black soot” or other stereotypical signs of smoke.  In fact, smoke damage is most easily detected by odor – if you smell that lingering “smokey” smell in certain parts of your home or office, you have smoke damage.  Additionally, there may also be gray/black powder-like substance that is visible, but this is not always the case.
  • What types of material are most (or worst)-affected by smoke damage?  In general, any porous material, including textiles and soft goods, are often more affected by smoke damage than hard/impervious material, since porous materials can easily become “saturated” with smoke.  That being said, almost any material (porous or not) could be affected by smoke or fire damage.
  • How is smoke damage cleaned by professionals?  The number one issue in removing smoke odor is source removal.  Often, DIY-minded homeowners simply try to “air out” the affected space by opening windows.  Unfortunately, this does not necessarily remove the source of the odor.  Professional cleaning would include discarding odor sources that are non-salvageable; cleaning hard surfaces with chemical sponges as well as appropriate, professional cleaning agents; and professionally dry-cleaning soft goods for smoke removal (which is not a service that you’ll find at your average drycleaner).  Keep in mind that, many times, smoke damage is not visible – extensive, professional cleaning techniques may be needed to remove the source of the odor.
  • Is it ever possible for a homeowner to clean smoke damage by himself or herself?  Depending on the extent of the damage, this may be possible.  If you burn a bag of popcorn in the microwave, it’s certainly reasonable to address the related, minor smoke damage on your own.  However, if there is any visible smoke damage and/or smoke odors that linger, you may need to contact a professional.
  • Any other things to mention?  It is important to note that any ingestible materials that have been affected by smoke damage should be discarded if they are not well-sealed.  Don’t eat anything that’s been affected by smoke damage!


Hopefully this is helpful to those looking for some guidance on how to deal with smoke damage in your home or office.  If you need professional assistance with smoke damage in South Central Pennsylvania, Tuckey Restoration stands ready to serve!  Just give us call.

Tuckey Restoration provides fire, wind, water, and storm damage restoration services as well as mold remediation and general construction/remodeling services throughout South Central Pennsylvania.  Tuckey (PA HIC # 15828) can be reached at 717-249-7052 or


DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as a reference guide only.  All mechanical, electrical, plumbing, remodeling, metal fabrication, and restoration projects should be handled by a qualified, professional contractor like the Tuckey Companies.  Information presented here is of a general nature that may not be applicable in all situations. Tips, articles, and accompanying information do not represent an official recommendation of the Tuckey Companies.

Picture by Punktor at Esperanto Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons 

Text Copyright © 2017, The Tuckey Companies

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