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New Mexico State University

New Mexico State University

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Washing Will Remove Soot, Odors

LAS CRUCES - New Mexicans who returned home to oily soot and smoke odors can wash down fabrics, carpets and house exteriors.


"The most important thing to do is wash away the soot, and that's going to get rid of most of the smell," said Susan Wright, clothing and textiles specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

To remove soot from washable fabrics, launder them in warm water, using liquid detergent or powdered detergent and bleach.

"Fabric draperies and upholstery slipcovers on couches can be professionally dry cleaned," Wright said. "If they're washable fabrics, they can be laundered at home."

Sooty carpets should be steam-cleaned with a water extraction system to pull up grime rather than being shampooed, she said.

Windows and mirrors can be wiped down with a solution of ammonia and liquid dishwashing detergent.

Though cleaning will help, some smells are likely to linger. "You can try putting out dishes of baking soda, charcoal or even ammonia, which doesn't smell good but will help absorb odors," Wright said. "Another alternative is vanilla extract."

Those who still can't tolerate the smell can consider renting an ozone machine to filter the air, Wright said.

Even washing the outside of your home, from the roof to ground, can help lessen smoky smells, she said.
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