How to Remove Wildfire Smoke from Your Home

Wildfires caused by dry conditions and other factors can impact your life indoors as well as out. Whether a wildfire occurs in a field or forest near your home, or in a remote spot miles away, the smoke produced by the burnt biomass can reach your community in no time. Here are some ideas for removing wildfire smoke from your home. Scroll down for additional tips on keeping the smoke out your area is dealing with smoke pollution right now.

The smoke damage from wildfire can be more than a nuisance.... it can be a hazard to your health. When smoke travels, carries along ash particles with it, including the most dangerous types of particles called PM2.5. These particles can damage your health, as well as your property. Microscopic smoke particulates can settle on practically any surface and be invisible to the naked eye, but still create an unpleasant odor, as well as potential health risks. 

Even if your area has not been the victim of wildfire directly, smoke and its odor can greatly impact the air quality index of your home and area. In order to maintain the air quality and living conditions, removing wildfire smoke odor from your home is essential so everyone in your family - including children, seniors, and even your pets - can continue to lead happy & healthy lives.

Why are smoke particles dangerous for health?

If you are taking the health impact of residual wildfire smoke lightly, think again. Smoke contains microscopic particles of ash and soot that are enough to trigger a variety of health issues. The particles can irritate your throat, eyes, nose, and your lungs majorly, which can result in allergic reactions and significant discomfort.

People who are already suffering from asthma, tuberculosis, and heart diseases, smoke damage from wildfire can affect their breathing and can create other respiratory issues. If you are in an area where smoke is still present in the air, consider a fitted PM2.5 mask, which can reduce airborne particle pollution by as much as 90%, without the discomfort of an N95 respirator.

Before calling professionals to assist you, here are some methods and tools which can be helpful to remove the odor of wildfire smoke from your home:

  1. Setting out baking soda You keep bowls of baking soda in your microwave and refrigerators to absorb any foul smell. Just like that, but putting the right amount of baking soda in containers all over your home. It will help in removing the smoke odor from your home. Baking soda is a natural odor absorber. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda powder on your furniture and floor too.
  2. Using activated charcoal Activated charcoal is a detoxifying agent and a natural odor absorbent. Keeping bowls full of activated charcoal in its powdery form around your home will help in absorbing odor, which is thereby smoke damage from wildfire.
  3. Deodorizing and cleaning with vinegar White vinegar cuts odors naturally. Wipe your washable walls, floors, and furniture, etc. with white vinegar in order to remove the pungent smell of smoke. Placing the bowls of vinegar all over your room with some smoke damage for several days will also serve as a help. If you find the fragrance of vinegar too strong to stand by putting some drops of essential oil like lavender drops in the bowl will surely help.
  4. Ozone generators Ozone generators products that are available on Amazon or pretty much any big-box store can do an excellent job of cleaning the odor of smoke damage from wildfire. They help in reducing and eliminating smoke odor from your home. But you have to be very careful with the ozone generators because it produces a high level of ozone that can damage your lungs as well. If you can manage to move out of your home and have a contractor who can do the cleaning with ozone generators that will be beneficial. Keep in mind that you try not to remain near your home when the cleaning is in process.
  5. Particulate masks:  These masks are similar to regular face masks, but they go beyond simply blocking water droplets that can carry the flu. They are capable of safeguarding against contaminated particulates that are airborne. Wildfire smoke masks are able to filter ultra fine particulates like pm 2.5 and other fine pollution particulates.

How to Keep Smoke Out of your Home

The smoke damage from wildfire can make outdoor air hazardous and unhealthy to breathe. Wildfire smoke can severely impact the indoor air quality of your home, so take steps to keep the smoke out! The impact of the smoke is directly dependent upon the proximity of the fire and density of the smoke and ash floating in the air. 

Here are some tips and methods that will help you to maintain the air quality of your home while the smoke is in the air.

  • If you have window A/C units, tape up the gap between the top of your bottom window and the top window.
  • Make sure your chimney flu is closed! (Author note: we are suffering from wildfire smoke right now in Seattle. We were following all of these tips, but our indoor AQI was still in the "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" range. In the middle of the night we realized the chimney vent was open and closed it. The next day the AQI had dropped to "Healthy"!)
  • If you have a mail slot, seal it with duct or packing tape.
  • Pick one door in your home to go in and out, and do so quickly. If you have a basement door, use that one.
  • Only if the wildfire is under control and the outdoor air quality is cleaned and improved, open the windows to let the fresh and clean air come in and circulate in your home.
  • Run air purifiers in your home to maintain high indoor air quality. Using an air purifier with integrated activated carbon technology, which can help particularly in removing the smoke odor from the air.

Getting Smoke Out of Your Clothes and Other Fabrics

The smoke from wildfire not only lingers on the surface of the wall, floors, and furniture, but the foul smell gets into other belongings as well. Clothes and curtains also absorb stains and smell; removing wildfire smoke odor from your home entirely is essential.

A thorough cleaning of all the fabrics present in your home will be extremely beneficial for reducing and removing the smoke particles, smoke damage from wildfire, and smoke particles. Washing and clothes is a vital step in removing the odor from home. Fabrics include all kinds of materials and not just the clothes that you wear. It includes blankets, curtains, sheets, linens, towels, carpets, etc

Here are some cleaning tips that will help in removing smoke odor from fabrics:

  • Wash your clothes with some vinegar so that the foul smell can be eliminated.
  • Don’t be satisfied with just one round of washing. The odor of smoke is quite strong, repeat washing the clothes until the clothes are free of any foul smell.
  • Hire a professional to clean the blankets and curtains of your home.
  • You might not have the pieces of equipment to shampoo your carpets, but that’s really important. Hire professional carpet cleaners.

We hope you found these tips for removing the smell and negative health effects of wildfire smoke from your home. If your community is experiencing wildfires, stay prepared and pay attention to key terms to know when and if to evacuate.  Remember, if there is still smoke in the air, wear a mask and stay safe!