Where there’s fire, there’s smoke. Eclipsing flames and heat, it’s the most ruinous and far-reaching component of that fire. Thick and dark, it damages everything in its path. Items touched by smoke often have long memories even though they may appear unaffected. Months after the flames are doused, odours on clothing and furniture can linger and resurge with moisture, warmth or air circulation.
Happily, Paul Davis is vanquishing these noxious odours with great success. Many customers find that family heirloom dining sets or a mother’s wedding dress aren’t just free of smoke smell, they’re in better condition than before the disaster. Effective treatment starts by understanding the nature of this inky substance called smoke.
Smoke occurs when there is not enough oxygen to burn a fuel completely. Unburned material billows into the air, composed of particles too tiny to see and containing hundreds of substances including water, carbon, gasses, soot, grease, minerals and chemicals. These substances – which vary widely depending on what exactly burned – accumulate on clothing and furniture and cause a distinctly unpleasant odour.
Paul Davis steps in to begin treating clothing and furniture odour as soon as possible. “Even when the fire is out and the smoke has cleared, damage to items may continue,” says Rebecca Robinson, Contents Manager, Paul Davis of Tampa, “Today’s fires burn a vast number of fuels from natural materials like wood and cotton to synthetics and electronics. Smoke from these fires can start complex chemical reactions. If we don’t begin treatment immediately, items may transform from cleanable to completely unsalvageable in hours.”
The odour removal process begins by inspecting the items’ condition. Paul Davis experts, who gently treat each item as if it’s their own important possession, then use a decision tree to choose among a variety of innovative technologies such as:
- Chemical treatments. Ozone, a gas found in the atmosphere, pushes odours out of furniture and clothing textiles, replacing smoke smell with a clean, fresh scent. Hydroxyls, created naturally when the sun’s rays react with water and oxygen, also rapidly break down smoke odour. Paul Davis uses special machinery to generate hydroxyls. Additional advanced products designed specifically for Paul Davis encapsulate and chemically neutralize contaminants and odour.
- Innovative technologies. Technicians may apply ultrasonic cleaning techniques, which harness bubbles produced by sound waves to drive odour from textiles, or use pressurized vapour.
- Specialized cleaning products. High-tech cleaning agents, such as degreasers, brighteners, solvents, anti-mildew agents, disinfectants and detergents, are often used in combination with familiar de-odourizing substances like baking soda. Paul Davis avoids fragrances in favour of a mild, very neutral smell.
- Specialized handling. Clothing and furniture often require multiple treatments over a number of days in prescribed combinations. Special items – leather, vinyl, metallized fabrics – may benefit like specialty cleaning equipment, hand-washing, water vapour treatments and agitation.
Paul Davis returns most items of clothing and furniture to exceptional condition with no traces of smoke odour. Restored items pay dividends far beyond dollar value.
“The smell of smoke is unpleasant for anyone but can be particularly upsetting and triggering for fire survivors,” says Robinson. “When familiar belongings smell like they used to, that comforts and heals traumatized survivors. It’s our privilege to help that process along. It’s all part of caring for people completely during their time of need.”