How to Remove Smoke and Soot from Finished Wooden Furniture

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Rose asked: How do I clean smoke and soot damage from wooden finished furniture? Last December, we had a house fire. We mostly had smoke damage. Is there a way for me to clean our solid cherry china cupboard and buffet of the smoke and soot? Thank you.

Although you can just wipe away surface smoke and soot with a damp cloth, it’s possible that the damage to finished furniture goes beyond the surface. For a true restoration to return fine furniture to its original glory, follow the steps that the pros use. In no time, your finished wood furniture will be as good as new.

You Will Need:

Steps to Remove the Soot:

  1. Before you start, protect the surrounding floor with a plastic drop cloth or old sheet (if necessary). If you are able to clean the piece outdoors, you won’t have to worry about damaging your flooring.
  2. Wipe a dry sponge over the furniture surface to remove any loose soot and dust particles.
  3. Cover the entire affected wood surface with cream furniture restoration polish. Do NOT leave the cream on the wood for more than 5-10 minutes, as it may cause permanent damage. For a large piece of furniture, work in sections to avoid overexposure.
  4. Lightly work the cream restorer over the wood using 0000 steel wool. Always follow the grain of the wood as you clean the surface. Going against the grain will leave the surface looking dulled and scratched.
  5. Wipe the cream and any residue away with a terrycloth towel. Ensure that all of the cream is removed.
  6. Finish by polishing the surface with a dry cloth.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Lingering odors? The restoration cream will deodorize the smell of smoke and soot in the wood as well.
  • The insides of drawers are often unfinished, and therefore, more difficult to clean if they are soot damaged. To clean them, remove loose soot with a dry sponge. Next, wipe the area with a cloth moistened with water and a mild detergent. Finally, if soot remains, lightly sand with a fine grit sandpaper until stains are gone.

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