Fire Cleanup

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Cleaning up after the fire.

Clothing

Smoke odor and soot can sometimes be washed from clothing. The following formula will often work for clothing that can be bleached:

  • 4-6 tbsp. of Tri-Sodium Phosphate
  • 1 cup Lysol or any household chlorine bleach
  • 1 gallon of warm water
  • Mix well, add clothes, rinse with clear water and dry well
  • Warning - Tri-Sodium Phosphate is a caustic substance used as a cleaning agent. It should be used with care and stored out of reach of children and pets. Wear rubber gloves when using it and always read the label carefully. To remove mildew, wash the fresh stain with soap and warm water, then rinse and dry in sun. If the stain has not disappeared, use lemon juice and salt, or a diluted solution of household chlorine bleach.

Cooking Utensils

Your pots, pans, flatware, etc., should be washed with soapy water, rinsed and then polished with a fine-powdered cleaner. You can polish copper and brass with special polish, salt sprinkled on a piece of lemon or salt sprinkled on a cloth saturated with vinegar.

Electrical Appliances

Appliances that have been exposed to water or steam should not be used until you have a service representative check them. This is especially true of electrical appliances. In addition, steam can remove the lubricant from some moving parts. If the fire service turned off your gas or power during the fire, call the electric or gas company to restore these services. DO NOT TRY TO DO IT YOURSELF!

Food

Wash your canned goods in detergent and water. Do the same for food in jars. If labels come off, be sure you mark the contents on the can or jar with a grease pencil. Do not use canned goods when cans have bulged, are dented, or are rusted.

If your home freezer has stopped running, you can still save the frozen food. Keep the freezer closed. Your freezer has enough insulation to keep food frozen for at least one day - perhaps for as many as two or three days. Move your food to a neighbor’s freezer or a rented locker. Wrap the frozen food in newspapers and blankets or use insulated boxes. Do not re-freeze food that has thawed.

To remove odor from your refrigerator or freezer, wash the inside with a solution of baking soda and water, or use one cap of vinegar or household ammonia to one gallon of water. Baking soda in an open container or a piece of charcoal can be placed in the refrigerator or freezer to absorb odor.

Flooring and Rugs

When water gets underneath linoleum, it can cause odors and warp the wood floor. If this happens, remove the entire sheet. If the linoleum is brittle, a heat lamp will soften it so it can be rolled up without breaking. If it is carefully removed, it can be re-cemented after the floor has completely dried. Small blisters in linoleum can be punctured with a nail and re-cemented if you are careful. Dilute regular linoleum paste thinly enough to go through a hand syringe and shoot adhesive through the nail hole. Weigh down the linoleum with bricks or boards. It is usually possible to cement loose tiles of any type. Wait until the floor is completely dry before beginning.

Rugs and carpets should be allowed to dry thoroughly. Throw rugs can then be cleaned by beating, sweeping or vacuuming, and then shampooing. Rugs should be dried as quickly as possible. Lay them flat, and expose them to a circulation of warm dry air. A fan turned on the rugs will speed drying. Make sure the rugs are thoroughly dry. Even though the surface seems dry, moisture remaining at the base of the tufts can quickly rot a rug. Call a carpet dealer, installer, or qualified carpet cleaning professional for additional information regarding cleaning and preserving carpets.

Mattresses and Pillows

Reconditioning an innerspring mattress at home is very difficult, if not impossible. Your mattress may be able to be renovated by a company that builds or repairs mattresses. If you must use your mattress temporarily, put it out in the sun to dry. Then cover it with rubber or plastic sheeting. It is impossible to get smoke odor out of pillows. The feathers and foam retain the odor.

Leather and Books

Wipe leather goods with a damp cloth, then a dry cloth. Stuff purses and shoes with newspapers to retain their shape. Leave suitcases open. Leather goods should be dried away from heat and sun. When leather goods are dry, clean them with saddle soap. You can use steel wool or a suede brush on suede. Rinse leather and suede jackets in cold water and dry away from heat and sun.

Wet books must be taken care of as soon as possible. The best method to save wet books is to freeze them in a vacuum freezer. This special freezer will remove the moisture without damaging the pages. If there will be a delay in locating such a freezer, place them in a normal freezer until a vacuum freezer can be located.

Locks and Hinges

Locks (especially iron locks) should be taken apart, wiped with kerosene and oiled. If locks cannot be removed, squirt machine oil through a bolt opening or keyhole, and work knob to distribute the oil. Hinges should be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.

Walls and Furniture

To remove soot and smoke from walls, furniture and floors, mix together:

  • 4 - 6 tbsp. Tri-Sodium Phosphate
  • 1 cup Lysol or any chloride bleach
  • 1 gallon of warm water

Wear rubber gloves when cleaning. After washing the article, rinse with clear warm water and dry thoroughly.

Walls may be washed down while wet. Use a mild soap or detergent. Wash a small area at a time, working from the floor upwards. Then rinse the wall with clear water immediately. Ceilings should be washed last. Do not repaint until the walls and ceilings are completely dry.

Wallpaper can also be repaired. Use a commercial paste to re-paste loose edges or sections. Contact you wallpaper dealer or installer for information on wallpaper cleaners. Washable wallpaper can be washed like an ordinary wall, but care must be taken not to soak the paper. Work from bottom to top to prevent streaking.

Do not dry your furniture in the sun. The wood will warp and twist out of shape. Clear off the mud and dirt by scrubbing with a stiff brush and a cleaning solution. You can also rub the wood surface with a steel wool pad dipped in liquid polishing wax, wipe with a soft cloth and then buff. Remove the drawers and let them dry thoroughly so there will be no sticking when you replace them. Wet wood can decay and become moldy, so allow it to dry thoroughly. Open doors and windows for good ventilation. Turn on your heating, if necessary. If mold forms, wipe the wood with a cloth soaked in a mixture of detergent dissolved in hot water. To remove white spots or film, rub the wood surface with a cloth soaked in a solution of a half cup of household ammonia and a half cup of water. Wipe dry and polish with wax, or rub the surface with a cloth soaked in a solution of a half cup turpentine and a half cup of linseed oil. Be careful because turpentine is combustible.