Smoke Damage Tips

I hope none of you need this information, but Sam's question a few days ago made me think I should post this:

Restoring Water and Smoke Damaged Fabrics:
3 Steps You Must Not Skip!

by Jim Pemberton - Fabric Pro Specialist​

As cold weather begins in most of the country, fires in homes become more common. Whether you are a fine fabric cleaning specialist being called upon to clean fire or water damaged upholstery, or are a disaster restoration company that offers content as well as structural restoration, you will find high value fabrics that need to be restored to "pre-loss" condition.

Always Remember These Three Things Before You Touch Fabrics That Have Been Subjected To Water Or Smoke:

#1. Inspect:
Its important to know what damage has been caused by the disaster, versus what was pre-existing soils, spots, and stains. Ultimately, you will usually be expected to remove both, but remember that your primary responsibility is to restore the fabric to "pre-fire" or "pre-flood" condition. In most cases, pre-existing hair oil, food spills, and overall soiling are removed by the same products and processes that remove smoke film.

However, in the case of delicate fabrics, such pre-existing conditions might not be removed during restoration processing. How far you will be expected to go in exceeding your "pre loss" responsibilities is something that should be explained clearly to the insurance representative.

#2. Act Fast:
Damage from both smoke and water only get's worse with time.
Here are just two of many examples:

. . . Smoke Residue on "stable" fabrics:
Allowing smoke residues, which are acidic in nature and contain staining materials that can discolor fabric, to remain on fabric for a long period of time usually will guarantee that restoration will NOT be possible. Proper removal of soot and smoke residues with the appropriate tools and procedures as soon as possible can often allow for total restoration of fabrics that otherwise would have permanent stains.

. . . Smoke Residue on "unstable" or fine fabrics:
If valuable fine fabric contents cannot be rapidly cleaned, permanent staining from soot and smoke residues can potentially be prevented by blowing off oily soot with air or lambs wool dusters, vacuuming, and, when possibly lightly wiping down the fabric with dry cleaning solvent or a mild neutral detergent solution.


"The oily soot residues on these fine fabrics must be removed with lambs wool dusters or compressed air before vacuuming or the application of any cleaning product"

The preceeding, basic "precleaning" technique has the best potential for preventing staining and make subsequent more thorough cleaning faster and more successful.

. . . .Water: on "unstable" or fine fabrics:

Fabrics that are allowed to remain wet for extended periods of time will often bleed, brown, shrink, water stain, or even experience mold damage.

These Steps Will Limit Such Damage Until Final Cleaning Can Be Done:

. . . (a) Extraction of excess moisture

. . . (b) Apply distilled water to the entire piece or cushion to prevent water marks.
CAUTION: Do not just treat the wet and surrounding areas alone!.

. . . (c) Dry rapidly, and evenly.

Rapid drying of one area of a saturated fabric while the other remains wet can contribute to water marks. Be sure to rotate cushions and the body of the furniture so that even drying occurs.

#3. Understand the Differences:
Most Fine Fabric Specialists understand normal soiling, such as body oil, food and drink spills, animal damage, etc. As outlined in the previous article, smoke, soot, and water create different cleaning challenges that rarely respond to standard cleaning techniques and products.

Whether or not you are a restoration company or a fine fabric specialist who wants to offer your services to the restoration businesses in your market place, you should consider the learning of these skills to be an important way to increase your customer retention and loyalty, as well as a strong marketing position to set yourself apart from those who will not take the time and make the investments needed to truly become a Fine Fabric Restoration Specialist.



Supportive Member
Aug 9, 2012
Thanks Jim, were still days out before i can even get in there and look but my wife and mother in law act like its no big deal