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Furniture, antiques, and family heirlooms often suffer serious damage after a fire or flood. Sadly, even with professional help, some damage can’t be fixed; but not all damage requires specialized equipment or professional expertise.

The technicians at Professional Restoration are experts at restoring personal property damaged by fire, water, mold, or hazardous materials. We help disaster victims restore everything from electronics and furniture to family photographs and documents.

Below, we share tips and techniques homeowners can use to restore furniture on their own.

Assessing the Damage

Once a home is safe, assess the condition of your property. Take pictures of all damaged furniture, electronics, and keepsakes. Document as you assess the damage, and determine what (if anything) can be restored.

As you assess each item, ask yourself: how extensive is the damage? What is this item worth? Is it sentimental? And are the repair costs?

The answer to these questions will determine if you can clean the damage yourself, contact content restoration professionals, or completely replace the item.

If you repair the damage yourself, then what damaged your belongings determines how you’ll repair them. Furniture affected by smoke or soot needs to be cleaned and treated with smoke deodorizer. Furniture soaked by water will need to be cleaned and properly dried.

How to Restore Fire-Damaged Furniture

Cloth upholstery is a safe haven for toxic soot and smoke smells. Even undamaged furniture may contain contaminants that could release in the air overtime.

To clean fabric-covered furniture, vacuum thoroughly to remove soot or dust. Next, sprinkle the fabric with baking soda and let sit for 24 hours. Vacuum up the baking soda and repeat if necessary.

If the fabric upholstery can be removed, wash the covers in cold water. To increase odor removal, add one cup of white vinegar to the first cycle.

To deodorize the fabric, use a smoke odor eliminator. There are several inexpensive brands available on Amazon. Read and follow the directions accordingly.

Leather furniture can be cleaned in a similar fashion. Vacuum all visible soot and dust, but be careful not to scratch the leather. Using a quality leather soap or conditioner, clean the furniture with a soft damp cloth.

To deodorize leather, mix equal parts water and white vinegar and apply. Carefully remove this mixture with a soft damp cloth. Don’t steam clean leather furniture.

Finished wood furniture damaged by smoke or soot can be cleaned and refinished with a few basic tools. Burned wood furniture will likely need replacing.

Start by removing all soot and dust with a dry chemical sponge. Cover the wood with a quality restoration polish. Apply the cream in the direction of the wood grain using 0000 steel wool. Do not leave the cream on for more than 10 minutes or risk further damage. For large furniture, it’s best to work in small sections.

Wipe the residue away with a soft towel. Be sure to remove all the cream. Polish the wood with a dry cloth.

Unfinished wood is much harder to clean. Start by removing any loose soot or dust with a dry sponge. Lightly sand the wood with fine grit sandpaper. Remove dust and debris again; finish cleaning with a damp towel and mild detergent. Repeat as needed. Let furniture dry completely in a ventilated area.

How to Restore Water-Damaged Furniture

Flood waters often contain dangerous bacteria and pathogens so the furniture must be sanitized and disinfected.

Soaked or submerged fabric furniture is difficult to clean and an easy place for bacteria and pathogens to hide. In many cases, water-damaged fabric furniture (couches, chairs, etc.) is not salvageable. In some cases, wood frames can be refinished and furniture reupholstered.

Wood furniture that’s damp (not submerged) can be cleaned and sanitized with common household items.

Start by mixing equal parts household ammonia and water. Apply this solution to the affected area with a cloth. Then wipe the surface dry with a clean dry cloth.

If natural coloring is not restored, dip 000 steel wool in oil; olive or mineral oil work best. Lightly rub the steel wool in the direction of the wood grain. Remove oil with a clean dry cloth. Polish with quality wax or furniture polish.

If the stain is significant, the wood finish may require removal and reapplication.

Furniture submerged in water will require a bit more care. First, hose the furniture off completely to rid the wood of any contaminated water, dirt, or debris. Move the furniture to a ventilated area. Do not leave the furniture in the sun to dry as it will warp or crack the wood.

Open doors, drawers, and remove furniture backing (if possible) to encourage air flow and drying. Dry the furniture completely; this can take several weeks.

Mold may appear as the furniture dries. If this happens, apply mineral spirits to affected areas, and clean with a dry cloth.

When to Call for Help…

For minor fire or water damage, we encourage homeowners to give these techniques a try. For everything else, call Professional Restoration at 303-922-4001.

We’ll pack and index all your damaged belongings and store them in our secured, climate controlled, 25,000-square-foot storage facility.

If you don’t have the time, room, or equipment to restore major furniture damage, Professional Restoration is here to help.

Want more restoration tips? Follow Professional Restoration on Twitter, or ‘like’ us on Facebook.

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