What is Fire Content Cleaning and How We Do It

fire content cleaning in home

Fire Content Cleaning – Smoke and Soot Cleaning – ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons


Learn About Our Content Cleaning Process After A Fire, Smoke or Soot Damage in the Chicagoland Area


House fires are one of the biggest causes of property loss in America. But while some property is left in ashes after a fire, not all property is completely ruined. Instead, after a house fire, the property is most often partially damaged — oftentimes by smoke. If you are facing the aftermath of a house fire and your belongings have incurred smoke damage, ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons has you covered with our guide to fire content cleaning. 

Smoke damage is one of the worst side effects of a house fire. When a fire occurs and smoke rises from the flames, its microscopic particles are suspended in the air until they settle on surfaces and items around the house. The soot that covers your belongings is what causes the awful smokey smell and black residue that a fire leaves behind. And, while the stain and smell are frustrating, the real concern is that they are toxic and expose house residents to unwanted chemicals. 

It’s important to work quickly to mitigate the smoke damage and restore your belongings. Any content recovery that involves removing smoke/fire damage from the fibers of an item (clothes, furniture, photos, housewares, etc.) is called fire content cleaning. While some people choose to go the DIY route for cleanup after a fire, we must recommend that you hire a professional restoration company, such as ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons, an IICRC Certified Master Fire and Smoke Restorer, to ensure the fire content cleaning process provides your belongings the highest chance of full recovery. 

When we provide expert fire content cleaning services to Chicagoland residents, we follow these steps to get their belongings back in healthy, pristine shape: 

Establish Safety

When ServiceMaster Restoration by Simons professionals are called in for a fire/smoke damage restoration project, the first step we take is to establish safety — for residents, our workers and anyone who enters the fire-damaged structure. Above all else, our first concern in every fire damage cleanup situation is safety. Our team will make sure everyone stays safe during the restoration process. 

An essential part of this safety is understanding the state of indoor air quality. After a fire, indoor air contains floating smoke and soot particles, which are carcinogens and could be both toxic and dangerous. Our team comes equipped with respirators and other safety equipment and clothing to protect against soot exposure. We’ll also increase ventilation to help toxic contaminants exit the indoor air naturally. The presence of unsafe air and the need for expert safety measures is why it’s so important to call in a professional restoration crew to handle fire content cleaning and fire/smoke damage. 

Evaluate the Damaged Items

Net, we’ll begin to determine which items should be cleaned and where, as well as which items are unsalvageable and will need to be discarded. We’ll take into account item material, cost, cost of restoration, antique value and homeowner desires when we evaluate items for their repairability. Our team will assess affected items quickly to minimize the soot damage that can be incurred in just a few hours or days after the initial fire. 

Our team will leave no item untouched: From textile goods (draperies and bedding) to furniture and food, we evaluate every item that could have been in the vicinity of the fire. Even if a belonging doesn’t necessarily look smoke damaged, we’ll restore your peace of mind by thoroughly inspecting it and confirming its safety and cleanliness. 

Create an Inventory

After we determine which items should undergo fire content cleaning, we’ll decide on a cleaning process for each item. There are three options we utilize for fire content cleaning: Cleaning items onsite in the home, taking items to our warehouse cleaning facility or taking items to be dry cleaned. If we determine any items that need to be taken to a facility or a dry cleaner, we call that a “pack out” and our technicians will carefully pack up items to be cleaned. You can trust that everything is in good hands! We’ll keep a detailed inventory of the items we remove from your home, including information about the condition and location of the items. 

If we determine there are items that can be cleaned onsite, we’ll take care of moving them to the cleaning area — usually the garage or basement. It’s important to leave the transporting of smoke damaged items to a professional crew to because items could be more fragile or likely to tear or break. Additionally, if we determine any items are not salvageable by a fire content cleaning and should be discarded, we’ll record everything we throw away. An inventory of all discarded items is essential to receiving compensation when filing an insurance claim.

Clean the Affected Items

Once the items are evaluated and recorded, our team will begin the fire content cleaning process. We have a variety of advanced products and systems we take advantage of to professionally clean and restore smoke or fire damaged items. We’ll perform testing to determine the appropriate product and cleaning solutions to use on each item. You can rest assured that our professionals use best-in-industry, eco-friendly products. 

Whether we’re onsite at your home or in our warehouse cleaning facility, our team will gently remove soot and smoke damage from each restorable item. We provide fire content cleaning services of all types, such as: 

  • Cleaning of all soft goods including garments, drapes, bedding, carpet & upholstery
  • Cleaning of all electronics, appliances
  • Drying and restoration of documents
  • Art Restoration
  • Cleaning of bookshelves, shelving, furnishings and light fixtures

The type of cleaning method and products we use depends on the item in question. Some of the cleaning methods we take advantage of to remove stains and smell include: 

  • Hand Washing and Drying: Items are carefully cleaned by hand. Care is taken to use dry methods with water-sensitive items.
  • Ultrasonic Cleaning: Ultrasonic tanks are used to clean certain items. Some items that might be cleaned ultrasonically are blinds, collectibles, and other smaller contents.
  • Furniture and Upholstery Cleaning: This requires specialty equipment, products and technicians trained and certified in furniture restoration.

Our team knows that dealing with fire and smoke damage can be daunting, time-consuming and stressful — especially when it comes to a tragic or unexpected fire. Your family’s life may be displaced and disrupted, and we understand how painful that can be. We’ll work quickly and efficiently to ensure that you can step right back into your daily routine. We’ll also work with insurance agents to help you file claims and restore items within your budget You can count on us to perform fire content cleaning in an ethical and professional manner, restoring your loss while also restoring your peace of mind. 

ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons is an MBE/WBE certified firm and family-run company serving Chicago, Oak Park, River Forest, and the North Shore.  ServiceMaster Restoration By Simons provides disaster restoration services including Water & Flood Damage Restoration, Fire & Smoke Damage Restoration,  Mold Remediation and a wide range of interior specialty cleaning including Hoarder & Clutter Cleaning, Post-Construction Cleaning, Carpet Cleaning and Upholstery Cleaning to residential and commercial customers residing in Chicago, Oak Park-River Forest, and the North Shore. For more information, give us a call at 773-376-1110 or visit servicemasterbysimons.com.

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