How To Purify Your Home After Wildfire Smoke

How to purify your home after wildfire smoke

How to purify your home after wildfire smoke. Do you know how to remove the smell of wildfire smoke from the home? Good question! This has been a big topic in my area lately due to almost every area in Oregon being on fire. There is almost no reprieve from the smoke, unfortunately. 

Here are my tips on how to purify your home after wildfire smoke.

If you’ve ever gone camping and sat in front of a fire, it smells. It is a very distinct smell that attaches itself to any porous surface, including clothes and fabrics. Over the last week, this has become a distinct smell in my home. Like we had a campfire in the middle of my dining room and forgot to open any windows. It was bad! Wildfire smoke is horrendous for our health, because it contains ash particles and soot. 

Headaches

This prompted me to go looking for ways to purify the air in my home because working was next to impossible due to the headaches. My office took the brunt of this incoming smoke and smell. My office window faces the direction where the biggest fire is and all of the smoke has been coming from. Opening windows simply isn’t an option even now, and going outside feels suicidal. I’ve noticed I’ve been coughing a lot, and blowing out grey boogers from my nose almost hourly. My body isn’t happy! I can only imagine what people with health and breathing issues are experiencing right now. 

Limit Incoming Air from Outside

The first thing to do is stop the smoke from making it into the home. Start with closing doors and windows, and limiting opening the door. Think about when the power is off and the need to limit opening the refrigerator to keep the cold air in. Same concept with limiting going outside. Keep the smoke out. 

Seal up doors and window cracks with tape. Plastic garbage bags and painters tape are great for this. Place damp towels under doors to collect incoming particles. We had to reseal the foam insulation piece around the portable air conditioner in my office, which was how most of the smoke entered. There was a massive wind storm before the fire, and it was blown down onto the windowsill. 

Stock up on furnace filters

Furnace filters are my new best friend as well! No joke, my prepping and need to have some stock of everything in my home was an asset this week. I cut up furnace filters and taped them up around my air conditioners. Both inside and out. Air conditioners are amazing in this regard because it sucks inside air out, and then brings fresh air in and cools it as it comes in. Putting an extra filter over the air conditioner means that it is an added layer of filtering for the fresh air coming in.

This removes the nasty smelling air and traps the particles in the extra filter. If you don’t have an air conditioner, use a box fan and a furnace filter. This will help cleanse the air in your house by circulating it through the fan and filter. I’ve also simply set the air conditioner to fan mode and low, to keep the air moving. 

A clean house is a happy house!

I knew my office was much cleaner after putting up the air filters because I was able to sit still in there without headaches and being fidgety and unable to focus on my work. Tigger also came in for the first time in days! He jumped into his bed and took a two hour nap. That was one of those moments that felt refreshing to me, and I felt safe again. Like I had a handle on things. 

Use fresh herbs

Simmering a pot of water on the stove with fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme (see the picture below) was incredibly helpful as well. This creates humidity and makes breathing easier. The herbs also attach to the smoke particles and remove them from the air. This was the first thing I did the other day, prior to putting filters over the air conditioners, and it made a crazy huge difference.

My house isn’t large, by any stretch of the imagination. In it there was this constant lingering haze all over my living and dining room. LIke I had burnt something on the stove and didn’t open a window or turn a fan on. It literally made watching tv painful, it was that bad. I hated walking in and seeing that, knowing breathing was almost impossible. I used fresh thyme because that was what I had in the refrigerator. 

Baking Soda

Setting out bowls of baking soda. Baking soda is an amazing odor absorber, and it certainly works in this case as well. Just be sure to put them somewhere that kids and pets can’t access them! Sprinkling this over carpet and allowing it to sit before vacuuming is also an excellent way to remove the smell of smoke. When I do this, I lock my cat away in the bathroom with food and water for about 30-45 minutes before vacuuming. If you don’t have pets or kids to get into it, you can leave it for several hours, or overnight. 

You have to go outside

If you do have to go outside, remove all clothing and wash immediately once back inside. Wash with normal laundry detergent and add in a cup of vinegar. If you’re outside for a prolonged amount of time, a second wash may be required to completely remove the smell of smoke. Whatever you do, do not dry clothes until the smell is gone, otherwise it will never come out. Click here for my DIY laundry soap recipe. 

Drink plenty of water!

Drink plenty of water as well. I’m sure many of us don’t drink enough water daily, even though it’s talked about often. This isn’t new information. But here’s the deal. When breathing in smoke, there are tiny microscopic particles that are in there, and they go directly into our lungs. Then absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to all of our other organs. Drinking water also helps control the dry scratchy throat and nasal passages, making breathing a bit easier. Drinking more water helps our bodies naturally detoxify by pushing all the nasties out. 

For me, staying inside was the easy part of this whole thing. But keeping the air inside clean was a monumental effort. Part of my prepping has now become the methods to keeping the air clean that I talked about earlier. My preps now will include air filters, baking soda, and thyme. 

Discussion

Are wildfires and their damaging effects an issue in your area? Tell me about it in the comments! Read more tips on prepping.

11 thoughts on “How To Purify Your Home After Wildfire Smoke”

  1. I’m sadden by all of these wildfires. I pray that you all stay safe. I have heard of using baking soda to help eliminate the odor, and I think you really pointed out some great ways to purify the air. I never thought to simmer fresh herbs on the stove! I learn something new every day. Thank you for providing such a great, detailed post! Stay safe, and you are all in my thoughts!

  2. These are great tips for getting the smell of the wildfires out of your home. We had massive fires here in Australia at Christmas time and the smoke was in the air for weeks. I like the idea of using herbs to pull the smoke particles out of the air.

  3. These are some great tips. I never would have thought of adding the extra air filters to the air conditioner, but that makes a lot of sense! We’re lucky here as we’re far enough away that the only sign we have had of the smoke is that the sky got a little foggy. That being said, you never know when you’re going to need this. I can remember when I was in University there was a big fire in Detroit, an industrial building, and we were all instructed to stay inside due to toxic smoke this side of the border in Windsor. Whether you live in a city or out in the country, it’s good information to have on hand just in case.

  4. It’s quite sad to hear about these wildfires year after year and how they are affecting people. Thanks for sharing these tips on how to combat these inevitabilities.

  5. First of all, Erica, I pray it finishes soon! I do hope you and your family will be fine. It is a very important and useful post but I can’t really relate to it because we never have fires

  6. I hope everything will get better soon over there. It’s been really challenging. I’m glad you found these simple ways to somehow purify the air in your house because it’ll also have an effect on your health. Praying!

  7. Oh no, this sounds so incredibly stressful. I hope you are able to stay safe throughout!!

    I have never had to deal with fires nearby, but my windows are very drafty and not at all well sealed. Your tips with the garbage bags and tape might work well in winter, to keep the cold out!

  8. ON top of everythign else in 2020 you needed this now? We have a family friend whose house burned down last year and it is really hard to get rid of the smell of smoke. She had come over and took her sneakers off and you could smell it throughout the whole house. I can barely sit at a firepit at night without coming in to shower afterwards. Baking soda is a great idea and it totally works. We used to clean up a burnt smell in our micorwave and it worked wonders. We just needed to change it constatnly. I hope things have calmed down for you a bit up there.

  9. Smoke can be killing but the after effects can really be unpleasant. I was seeing the smoke in your location after the wildfire fire on television and the first thought was how Erica must be coping up. Very good insights on how to deal with such a crisis. Also great tips for keeping healthy. Thanks for sharing.

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