How Removing Smoke and Odors Can Improve Air Quality at Home

Americans spend around 90% of their time indoors. Good indoor air quality is critical for your health. It gives you more enjoyment from your home.

Smoke and odors worsen your air quality. Removing them is essential to improve the air quality in your home.

Learn more about the benefits of removing smoke and odors and how to effectively eliminate them.

Problems with Indoor Air Quality

Smoke and odors cause indoor air pollution. Pollutants come from many sources, such as:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Mold
  • Fireplaces
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Paint
  • Insecticides
  • Building materials

Pollutants can also enter your home from outside through windows, doors, and ventilation systems. All of these contaminants can harm your health. Unpleasant odors make your home environment less enjoyable.

Benefits of Removing Smoke and Odors

Removing indoor air pollutants can improve your health. It can improve your quality of life.

Reducing pollutants like viruses and bacteria helps prevent illness. Better air quality reduces allergic reactions and lessens the symptoms of asthma. You may be able to sleep better with better air quality.

Eliminating bad odors makes your home more pleasant. This can improve your mood and morale. Cleaner air improves brain functioning, like your ability to focus.

How to Remove Smoke and Odors from Your Home

Effectively removing smoke and odors has three main steps:

  • Source control
  • Ventilation
  • Filtration

Together, they can help improve your indoor air quality.

Source Control

Source control means limiting potential sources of indoor air pollution. For example, ask anyone in your home who smokes to smoke outside.


Ventilation increases the amount of outdoor air that comes inside. Opening the windows when possible is a good way to improve ventilation.

Of course, outdoor air may not be ideal if you live in an area with high outdoor air pollution. Your HVAC system may be able to bring in filtered fresh air.


Filtration uses air cleaners to remove particles and other pollutants. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters can remove 99.97% of airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns. Be sure that the HVAC system in your home uses high-quality filters.

Portable air cleaners can be effective. You need to verify that the air cleaner is large enough with a high enough air circulation rate for the room.

Why Choose Professional Smoke and Odor Removal?

You may need a professional odor removal company to fully remove smoke and odors from your home. You definitely need professionals if you’re trying to repair significant issues, such as damage from a house fire.

You can also benefit from the help of a professional when you need to remove other odors, like sewage, cigarettes, mold, food, and pet odors. An odor removal company will track down the source of the problem and safely neutralize the odors.

The longer you wait to address smoke and odors, the more likely they are to become permanent. The best restoration companies will respond rapidly to handle your situation. You know they’ll be working to improve your air quality as quickly as possible.

Working with ServiceFirst Restoration

Clean indoor air can make a difference in your health and your quality of life. Problems with smoke and odors need a solution quickly. The right odor removal company will help ensure the quality of your home’s indoor air.

ServiceFirst Restoration provides 24/7 immediate response. Our technicians are certified and experienced in smoke and odor removal. We stand behind our work with a comprehensive warranty.

Contact us today to schedule an inspection. Don’t wait to start breathing better!

Odor Removal

Fires, floods, and mold.  They can all lead to hard to remove odors that seem to last forever, especially fire and smoke odors.  Property managers, real estate agents, business owners, and homeowners alike often try to deal with the problem themselves only to find out too late that they needed a professional odor removal expert.


Do-it-yourself is often successful for small problems, and there are many consumer products for treating various sources of smells.  But keep in mind that odor-causing compounds can penetrate so deeply into porous materials that even a restoration specialist can no longer remove them.  So if you can’t remove the odors immediately, call in the pros.

TIP:  Your nose acclimates to any continuous smell so that you can no longer sense it.  In order to be sure you’ve been successful, leave your home or business for perhaps an hour.  Can you smell anything when you return?

Smoke Odor Removal

Smoke and soot can reach just about anywhere, and their countless chemical compounds become trapped within many porous materials where they’re essentially permanent.  That can happen in as little as a day.  So don’t try smoke & odor removal yourself for anything more than a small stove-top flare up.

Here are the general recommendations.  Keep in mind that like most sources you’ll find, it assumes a “dry” and alkali smoke.  Some fires produce an oily “wet” soot, and cleaning liquids just smear it around.  Also be aware that even slight pressure, such as the mere touch of a vacuum cleaner head or brush, can force contamination in even deeper.

  1. Air out affected areas as soon as possible.  Place exhaust fans in windows, and have other fans blow into corners, closets, and opened cabinets.
  2. Move as many items as possible outdoors, especially furniture and area rugs.  That way they won’t get further contaminated, and won’t contaminate other items.
  3. Clean every nook and cranny you can get to.  White vinegar mixed with water is a quick home-brew.  Don’t forget…
    • Air ducts & HVAC equipment
    • Blinds
    • Books (air them out)
    • Carpets (Sprinkle with baking soda, wait, then vacuum.  But professional carpet cleaning by a smoke expert is best.)
    • Floors (Uncarpeted floors can be mopped, but only damp-mop laminate flooring.)
    • Upholstery (Vacuum without actually touching the fabric, then clean.)
    • Walls (Thoroughly clean building surfaces.  Diluted ammonia or vinegar is good for many but not all wall finishes.  Rinse well, let dry thoroughly.  You might need to apply an odor-blocking primer and re-paint, but smoke deposits may remain in other parts of the structure.)
    • Windows, screens, shades, and sills need a thorough washing.
  4. Everything that can go through the clothes washer should be repeatedly washed until they no longer smell.  That may include drapes, slipcovers, clothes, linen, duvets, and blankets.  Don’t run them through the dryer in between — heat sets odors as well as stains.  It may take as many as 5 or 6 washings!  You might add baking soda and vinegar to your regular detergent, or better still use ERA® liquid detergent.

Mold Odors

To remove mold odors, remove the mold!  But that’s a whole other topic.

Even with the source gone, you may still have MVOC (microbial volatile organic compounds) with varying degrees of smell.  Dealing with them is much like dealing with smoke.  With windows closed, activated-charcoal air purifiers are also effective in gradually capturing those MVOCs.

Professional Odor Control

Yes, that’s a lot of work!

And without training and special equipment, you’re not guaranteed a positive outcome.  Regular cleaning services aren’t up to the task — you need professional cleaning by well-trained odor removal technicians.

The pros typically begin with the thorough cleaning but using specially formulated products including reactants and neutralizers.  They’re also likely to use HEPA filters and other scrubbers to pull contamination from the air as they work.  Most importantly they’ll bring in the heavy artillery — truck mounted and portable equipment to remove odors deep within the structure.

Thermal Foggers

Thermal fogging raises indoor temperatures to re-open pores near the surface that opened during a fire.  A special fog of tiny droplets reacts with the VOCs, permanently eliminating their smells.  There’s really nothing as effective for getting rid of fire and smoke odors for good.

Ozone Generators

Regular oxygen is actually a molecule of two oxygen atoms.  Ozone is a molecule with three.  It’s an extremely active oxidant (the building must be unoccupied during ozone treatment) that breaks apart VOCs.  Any lingering ozone quickly becomes plain old oxygen.  It’s like “OxyClean®” but for smells.

Hydroxyl Generators

Water, H2O, is two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen.  Hydroxyl is water with one of the hydrogens removed.  It’s also a powerful oxidizer that decomposes VOCs and becomes just a bit of carbon dioxide (CO2).  Hydroxyl treatment requires a few days, but the building can be occupied throughout that time.