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Michigan State University Extension
Home Maintenance And Repair - 01500007

Cleaning Wood Furniture After A Fire

If burns are not too severe, they may be sanded and the furniture refinished. The furniture should be thoroughly dry before restoration. When there is only smoke damage, use a solvent to clean furniture. For most finishes on furniture, denatured alcohol or paint thinner will help to clean smoke from furniture.

These and other solvents are very flammable. Work outdoors if possible, or in a well-ventilated room with open windows. Be absolutely sure there is no flame or spark anywhere in the area where it could ignite vapors from solvents--no flame, pilot light, spark, and no smoking. Discard cloths in tightly closed metal can, in trash. You don't want to start another fire! Also avoid breathing vapors while working. Read labels on solvents and follow directions.

Do a small section at a time. Apply solvent to a rough surface cloth, such as a hand towel and rub thoroughly. Use 3/0 steel wool for carvings. After cleaning, go over surface with a damp cloth. Dry with another cloth.

After furniture dries, wax or polish it with a recommended wax or polish. Several commercial products can clean smoke from furniture. To clean, do not use a product that contains wax or polish.


This article was written by Anne Field, Extension Specialist, Emeritus, with references from Arkansas Extension bulletin How to Clean House After a Fire.

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