Recent Cleaning Posts

Odor Elimination: Smoke Edition

10/22/2021 (Permalink)

“Odor Elimination: Smoke Edition” with black smoke on a white background and SERVPRO logo How To Remove Smoke Smell

Cigarette smoke is very difficult to eliminate. There are some DIY suggestions to help with a mild, short-term smell. However, you need to call SERVPRO of South Mecklenburg County for the really tough, I can't get rid of this smell source!

Cigarette smoke can cling tenaciously to possessions and even the very walls, floors, and ceilings of a house that once belonged to a heavy smoker. As a cigarette smolders, it produces smoke molecules encapsulated in microscopic bits of oil and tar, which adhere stubbornly wherever they land.

A commercial air freshener can effectively tackle mild cases of stale smoke, but these sprays merely mask odors, rather than absorb or neutralize it. (Note: While the chemical ingredients in these products are generally safe for you and your cats and dogs, they’re harmful to birds—do not use them if you have feathered pets.) The smell of items repeatedly exposed to smoke for years is bound to return after the freshener wears off.

Fortunately, there is all-natural hope for your stinky stuff! You may have to try a few of the different methods here, but if you have patience you’re sure to greatly reduce, perhaps totally eliminate, the lingering smoke smell.

If it’s a light odor, try these DIY steps first. 

Air it out.

Don’t discount the power of good old fresh air! If your home’s interior smells smoky, open all the windows and place a portable fan or two in front of the largest ones, with the blades blowing outward, to pull smoky air from the room. Keep this up for a full day, if possible, or even longer. Set smoke-ridden furniture, books, and clothing outside in a sunny spot for several hours—those UV rays can also help neutralize odors. But note that intense sunlight can damage or fade delicate or dyed fabrics, so if it’s very bright and hot out, air that smoke-plagued vintage shawl or embroidered pillow in a shady spot.

Sop up the smoke smell with baking soda.

Sodium bicarbonate is a very effective deodorizer, as it actually absorbs smells rather than merely masking them. Here are a few ways to use it:

  • To purge smoke from a room or car, fill several small bowls with baking soda and then set them all around the space. Leave the baking soda in place for at least 24 hours.
  • Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda onto rugs or carpeting, let it dwell overnight or for at least two hours, then vacuum.
  • Sprinkle a smelly sofa or plush chair with a light coating of baking powder and let it sit for a minimum of two hours, and then thoroughly vacuum with an upholstery attachment.
  • For books, small décor items, and clothing that isn’t easily washable, pour one-half cup of baking soda into a large plastic trash bag, add the smoke-damaged items, and then tie the bag shut. Give it a good eight hours of dwell time before removing your belongings and dusting or shaking off the powder.

Neutralize the smoke smell with a vinegar wash.

White vinegar is another nontoxic household staple that works to neutralize—not simply mask—bad odors such as smoke. Its low pH “attacks” the higher-pH smoke molecules, altering them just enough to reduce their smell. Don’t worry, the unpleasant smell of vinegar itself will naturally dissipate once it dries.

  • To reduce the smoke smell in a room or vehicle, fill several small bowls with white vinegar, set them around the space, and let them sit overnight.
  • To speed up the process, boil a potful of vinegar on the stove, letting it gently simmer for an hour or two. As the steam wafts through the air, it helps to remove the smoke smell.
  • Smoke-ridden machine-washable clothing can be tossed into the laundry along with a half cup of white vinegar in place of your usual laundry detergent, as the acidic vinegar will help break down the malodorous molecules. Laundry detergent, which tends to lean towards the alkaline end of the pH scale, as does cigarette smoke, won’t neutralize the odor as effectively.

Charcoal works well for smoke smell removal, too.

The carbon molecules in charcoal chemically “trap” smells, clearing them from the air. While grilling briquettes can be used in a pinch, activated charcoal is processed for better porosity and absorption power (and as a bonus isn’t treated with flammable chemicals). Most home improvement centers carry a range of activated charcoal products, often packaged in small fabric or burlap bags, and are usually labeled as smoke or odor eliminators.

Set or hang several bags of activated charcoal around a smoky room or car to absorb odors, or place the bags atop smoke-damaged furniture or carpeting. Don’t set un-bagged activated charcoal directly on fabrics, as it can leave a stain.

Steam away the smoke smell.

Steam cleaning can be especially effective on smoky walls, floors, and upholstery, as the heat melts the hardened tar and oils encapsulating the smoke molecules, making it easy to wipe them away with a microfiber cloth or sponge. Many home improvement centers rent these machines, typically for about $25 per hour. Just mist surfaces lightly with the heated vapor, keeping the steam cleaner’s head moving at all times to avoid saturating any one area—oversaturating with steam can damage delicate fabrics such as silk and even melt drywall.

What Next? 

These DIY solutions can be great in situations with a light smoke scent, but more severe damage could mean DIY experiments are a waste of time. For a better odor removal solution, contact SERVPRO of South Mecklenburg County and learn about our professional odor removal equipment and cleaning solutions. 

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Removing Cigarette Smoke Odors From Your Home

8/18/2021 (Permalink)

“Removing Cigarette Smoke Odors From Your Home” with the SERVPRO logo and a lit cigarette My Home Smells Like Cigarette Smoke, Now What?

When you think of home you probably think of a warm, cozy place that smells and feels great. Unfortunately, the smoke from a lit cigarette has a very distinct smell that can be very difficult to rid your home of. 

Cigarette smoke is the result of the components of a cigarette being burned. This smoke can permeate throughout the surrounding areas of the smoking area. The creation of tar is a result of burning a cigarette and tar can stain surfaces while carrying a scent. This can result in an oily substance that can only be removed from surfaces through the use of advanced cleaning solutions. 

There are both professional and DIY methods of eliminating the odor from your home. We have compiled a list of some of the best ways to get your home smelling like new. 

  • Candles are a great way to freshen up your home and are an extremely simple solution to mask smells for a short period of time. They quickly fill a room with a soothing scent that can last for hours. Unfortunately, candles are a fire hazard and should be used very carefully. There are many candle alternatives that get the job done just as well as candles, without the risk of fire. 
  • Wash and scrub all of the surfaces in the area you are trying to freshen up. This goes for the outside of the home as well. Repaint surfaces like walls and ceilings after a thorough cleaning.
  • Wash all clothing and other washable fabrics, as the fabrics can carry the scent throughout your home. Even clothes that may not smell strongly should be washed, as the smell of smoke can easily transfer from one item to another.
  • Clean all of your rugs, carpets, and curtains. Have them steamed and use an odor neutralizing agent to assist in the scent removal.
  • Leave your windows open for as long as possible so that the scent can be diffused by the air from outside.

While all of these DIY methods can solve a minor cigarette smoke problem, serious smoke odor requires a more serious solution.

Ozone generators can be extremely effective in eliminating odors from the home. These machines are portable and can be brought to and from a home with ease. The ozone generators produce unstable hydrogen molecules that are used to remove any unwanted odors from your home. The machine will not damage the property or leave any lasting marks and will permanently eliminate nasty odors. SERVPRO of South Mecklenburg County has an ozone generator and we can get your home smelling good as new!

DIY methods can be a wonderful solution to minor problems but, if you try these methods and are still noticing a lingering odor, call us at (704) 840-6112. Our expert team has the tools to thoroughly clean the contents of your home, and remove the odor from your home's structure.

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What You Need to Know About Vandalism

7/6/2021 (Permalink)

“What You Need to Know About Vandalism” with images of acts of vandalism and the SERVPRO logo What to do after Vandalism on Your Property

During the summer many find themselves taking relaxing vacations, spending time with friends and family, and spending quality time outdoors. These are great ways for all of us to destress, but all of these activities involve being away from home. While vandalism may not be something you think about happening to you, it is more common than you think. Here at SERVPRO of South Mecklenburg County, we want to educate you on ways to prevent and handle vandalism should you experience it yourselves. 

Defining Vandalism 

Vandalism is the term used for the intentional damage or destruction one causes to another’s property. Vandalism can come in many forms, with varying levels of damage. It is important to note that vandalism can occur to one’s personal property as well as commercial buildings. 

 Common Forms of Vandalism

As previously mentioned, vandalism can come in many different forms. A common form of vandalism comes in damage to one’s yard, often caused by “pranks” committed by teens. This can be anything from covering a yard and house in toilet paper to destroying a home’s mailbox. Vandalism can occur in more serious cases as well with many cases involving spray-painting one’s belongings or downright destroying someone’s property. Regardless of the severity of the vandalism, it is an illegal act and should not be ignored.

Preventing Vandalism

The key to preventing vandalism is ensuring your property has proper security measures, similar to preventing burglary. A simple first step is to add outdoor lighting around your property. One way to effectively secure your property is through the installation of security cameras. These cameras can be as obvious or discreet as you would like, and video doorbells are becoming an extremely popular safety measure. Another simple method to lower your risk of being a victim of vandalism is by installing a fence around your home. This fence will make it more difficult for the vandal to access your property without being noticed. A very common preventative method is to place a security provider sign in your front yard. These signs show everyone that your house is protected and will make someone think twice before attempting to vandalize your property. 

 What to Do if Your Property is Vandalized

As vandalism is a crime, it is imperative that you contact your local law enforcement agency in the event that you experience vandalism first-hand. Law enforcement will look for the perpetrator and will ensure that they receive the proper punishment. It is crucial that you do not take matters into your own hands as it can not only make things worse but can also put you and your family in danger. Once law enforcement has been notified, contact your insurance agency about any property that has been damaged so they can give you proper compensation. Here at SERVPRO of South Mecklenburg County, we hope that you never fall victim to vandalism, but if you find yourself in one of these situations you can contact us at (704)-840-6112. We offer vandalism related clean-up and repairs so it will look "Like it never even happened." We can always be reached anytime day or night to help you in your time of need, just give us a call. 

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