How to Remove Smoke and Soot from Finished Wooden Furniture


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.


  1. Marsha says:

    We recently had a fire where the living room and my office had much lingering smoke. How do I remove the smoke smell from my wood furniture that is not damaged, just smells bad.

  2. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Remove Cigarette Smell from Wooden Furniture.

  3. Chris says:

    While entertaining over the holidays, I was burning scented candles. I had votive candles burning between finished wooden shelves on a bakers rack and a three-wick jarred candle burning inside a wooden entertainment center. How do I clean and remove the black candle soot marks that are now on the finished wood surfaces???? Please help me; my husband is furious!


  4. Melanie says:

    If you don’t want to use the steps in the article, you can look through other articles about soot removal on the site and see if any of the solutions are something you might like to try and would be safe on wood. For example, the How to Remove Soot from a Mirror article suggests using dish liquid, which should be safe for wood and is likely something you have in the house.

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