Tips to clean up following a fire

March 13, 2018

Once it’s safe to go home, residents near the site of Monday’s salvage yard fire in northeast Portland will want to thoroughly clean their homes, to remove odor and soot. Smoke and soot from the fire can travel and affect your car, yard, and the paint, carpet, upholstery, drapes, clothing inside your house.

But you want to take steps to protect your skin and lungs while you do so.

Experts recommend:

  • Remove your shoes before you go inside to avoid tracking soot in.
  • Put on pants, long sleeves and gloves (such as household dishwashing gloves) before you begin cleaning. If you get any ash on your skin, wash it off as soon as possible.
  • Use a damp cloth to wipe ash from household surfaces. Visible pieces of ash are big enough to be kept out of the lungs by the body’s natural defenses in the nose and throat, but when it circulates in the air, it can irritate the skin, nose and throat, and can trigger an attack for people who have asthma. Wetting the area and wiping it up can help protect you.
  • Wipe off children’s toys.
  • Gently sweep ash from the floors and follow with a wet mop. Avoid vacuums without a HEPA filter, so you don’t put ash back into the air.
  • Wipe soot and smoke from walls, furniture and floors using a mild soap or detergent  and warm water.
  • Wash any fruits and vegetables with a mild soap from your garden before eating them.
  • Throw away any food left on countertops.
  • Wash the family pets.
  • Open doors and windows to ventilate remove soot and odor.
  • Take your vehicles to a local brushless car wash to avoid scratching the paint.


Cleaning up after a fire, by the Red Cross

Clean up smoke and soot from a fire, by the County of Los Angeles

What to do when the fire goes out, by Portland Fire and Rescue