After a house fire, life can feel massively chaotic and overwhelming. When you have so much to do and just as many people to call, it’s easy to want to throw in the towel thanks to analysis paralysis. How do you uncover your top priority? At Nixxit, we’re here to alleviate a bit of your pressure.
You’d think clearing up your home after a fire would be simple, but there are several tips you should consider to ensure you stay safe while tidying. We’ve got all the details.
What To Do After a House Fire
Inspect the Home and Locate the Damage
While it might be tempting to take matters into your own hands, we recommend calling a professional and having them check your home before you do. Why? There might be damage or safety violations you can’t spot that could lead to injury to you or a loved one. Better to leave that to the experts!
This is also a great time to alert your insurance company to the fire damage – as well as your local disaster relief in case you need accommodation assistance.
What Should You Throw Away After a Fire?
After you’ve had a professional give the okay for you to start clearing out your home, there will be a lot that needs throwing out. You might not expect to have to part with many of those items – but stay flexible, as you may need to discard some items even if the fire didn’t directly damage them. This is due to several reasons, including the chemicals the fire service would have used and the risk of damage from ash and soot.
Six Things to Throw Away After a Fire
- Electronic Equipment
The most significant risk with vulnerable electronic equipment is that it could start another fire if it’s already seen damage in the original fire. In this instance, it’s often a good idea to throw anything electrical out just in case. Both water and heat can be problematic for electricals, so better to be safe than sorry.
- Burned Clothes
As mentioned before, the chemicals the firefighters use may cause damage to you and your loved ones if you don’t pay attention. This damage is generally to your skin and respiratory system. Even your clothes that haven’t burnt may be at risk if the emergency responders sprayed them, so we recommend disposing of them responsibly.
- Perishable and Unsealed Food
Most of your food will have been at risk of damage. For those unsealed or fresh foods, they will have been directly affected, but even foodstuffs that were in containers or tins could be at risk. The heat from a fire can activate bacteria, but it can also lead to rust on cans, and the chemicals from the extinguishers can contaminate food. Be vigilant and check everything.
- Rugs and Carpets
While it is likely your rugs and carpets will have been irreparably damaged by the fire anyway, those that were lucky to survive will still probably have to go. This is because they can absorb all manners of chemicals, leading to uncomfortable smells and toxic chemicals.
- Fabric Furniture and Mattresses
Similarly, any fabric furniture, such as sofas, and especially items like mattresses, are also at risk of damage and smells. While you could try and clean them, this is likely to be time-consuming, awkward, and expensive, with no guarantee it will work.
- Medicines and Cosmetics
Whether you’re a chemistry whiz or not, you should know that chemicals react to heat. And that’s precisely what can happen with your medicines and cosmetics. Not only can this alter the way your items look and feel, but it can also become toxic. Don’t risk it; just chuck it.
Tips for Safely and Efficiently Cleaning After a House Fire
Removal of Smoke and Ash
So, you’ve chucked out everything that needs to be gone, and now you want to clean the remainder. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to hear that you can do this with a simple solution that you can make yourself. All you need is the following:
- 2 tbsps of dishwashing soap or laundry detergent
- 4-6 tbsp of tri-sodium phosphate (TSP)
- 1 cup chlorine bleach or household cleaner
- 1 gallon of water
Make sure to wear gloves, then use a sponge to wipe down all the surfaces. Crucially – rinse clean immediately after. You don’t want any chemical reactions happening straight after a fire!
Cleaning and Salvaging Items
You probably already know this, but you’re going to need to do a very deep clean. By this, we mean:
- Wash all your clothing (especially before wearing it!)
- Wash and dust every object and surface.
- Clean all carpets, rugs, textile furniture, curtains, etc., with disinfectant and freshener.
And another tip? Odor-masking spray is not going to cut it for this job. You need to do the real deal here to eliminate all the smoke, soot, and smells. It will take a while, but we promise it will be worth it. You can salvage your home, especially with the help of experts; it will just take some elbow grease.
Your walls and ceiling might be a part of your home you might not think about (unless they have had direct fire damage on them), but they can hold a lot of bad smells if not cleaned properly. You can use the solution stated above to do this. Even the walls that seem unaffected will need a once-over.
You’ll likely want to repaint them as well. If that’s the case, bear in mind that you’ll need to wait until the walls are completely dry before you can do that. We recommend waiting at least 48 hours before continuing with the process.
Floors and Non-Porous Surfaces
Floors and non-porous surfaces will likely be your most low-maintenance cleans of the whole property; this is because they’re less likely to absorb smells and chemicals. For any melted objects or surfaces, it’s probably time to say goodbye, but you can easily wipe down the rest. Yes, this includes glass and metal! Good news – even some hardwood floors can survive fire damage.
Clean the Exterior of Your Home
Pro tip: Do this bit last, starting at the top and working your way down. If possible and safe to do so, get on the roof to clear away any gutter pile-ups. Then, move down to the walls and windows. If you start from the top, all the dirty water will wash away over the bits you haven’t cleaned yet, giving you a headstart. And remember, a power washer is your friend.
Need Help Clearing Out Fire Damage Debris? Call Us!
While we want to empower you with this knowledge, there is another way. You can hire professionals to do the whole thing for you!
At Nixxit, we are dedicated to bringing your home back to life and will take on the whole junk removal project so you don’t have to. Get in touch to find out more, and we can begin getting your home looking good as new!
Need Help with Junk Removal in the Bay Area, CA?
Nixxit Junk Removal can help with your junk removal needs in the Bay Area.
- Full-Service Junk Removal and Sorting
- We Do the Heavy Lifting and Loading
- Locally Owned and Operated
- Donation and Recycling
- Same Day Appointments Available!