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Cleaning Collectibles Damaged in Home Fire

I have porcelain, glass, and wood items that are heavily smoke damaged due to a house fire. Many of these pieces are antiques and collectibles that I'd like to preserve as they belonged to my mother, who perished in the fire. What should I use on these different surfaces? Thank you very much!


By Patti from Everson, WA

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February 6, 20110 found this helpful

Have you tried plain hot soapy water? I would try that and a soft tooth brush in the crevices. On the wood items try something like an oil soap. I have seen it advertised and can't remember the name of it.

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February 7, 20110 found this helpful

Thank You. Unfortunately, hot soapy water doesn't cut the oily residue that soot contains. For the wood items I've tried Murphy's Soap, and it works pretty good for surface stuff. I didn't want to get into refinishing, but I may have to.

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February 7, 20110 found this helpful

Back when construction workers actually worked, we had a job doing a fire rehab. We ran out of the expensive soot-removal formula and ran to the dollar store for a substitute. "Totally Awsome" lives up to it'a name. It did an unbelievable job on the historic building - even the wood fireplace mantle and plaster walls. We didn't ordered any more formula and finished the job from the dollar store! You may want to start diluted and strengthen if needed, though.

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February 7, 20110 found this helpful

First and foremost, I am so very sorry for the loss of your mom!

If the 'Totally Awesome' that bethmuse suggested doesn't work what you can do is call your insurance company and ask for the names and phone numbers of the restoration companies they would reccomend and then call those companies and see what they suggest.

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February 7, 20110 found this helpful

I have a large lovely picture that has smoke damage the paint is acrylic paint, I am afraid I will wreak it but I really want to clean it so can hang it back up.

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February 7, 20111 found this helpful

First off, no one noticed or wanted to mention that your mom perished in the fire. I am so very sorry to hear that you lost her. Of course the things she left are doubly precious.

That said, TSP or Tri Sodium Phosphate is the one thing that will absolutly get them clean. It is especially formulated for nicotine and smoking damage to walls, windows, and items that are in the home of smokers. I hope this helps.

Please know that we will keep you in our hearts. I am sure it was because of the loss that no one wanted to mention it. We are a kind and generous bunch so know that if you are new to us.


Poor But Proud

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February 7, 20110 found this helpful


My sincere condolences to you and your family. I can completely understand your need to restore these things to their original beauty.

I deal in antiques, in particular porcelain, china and glassware. There is no universal product or method to cleaning/restoring these types of pieces. There were/are so many methods used in the production of vintage and antique wares that great care must be taken - what will work fine for one piece, can destroy the next. For clear glass or crystal, whether cut or uncut, fill your sink with warm water and liquid dish soap just as if you were going to wash your regular dishes. To this add about 1/2 to 1 cup of vinegar (be generous). Wash the crystal using a soft toothbrush to gently scrub in any cuts in the glass. If there is still residue remaining, dip your wet cloth into some baking soda and use it to gently "scrub" the piece. Baking soda is a mild abrasive and does a nice job of cleaning tough residue and it doesn't take a lot of elbow grease. Finally, rinse the item well in warm water and dry with a soft cloth right away. I've always used this technique and have had success cleaning some pretty tough pieces. You'll be amazed at how they will sparkle!

In the interest of not turning this post into a book, please feel free to contact me about cleaning any other types of items. Once I know what they are I can better help you go about it.

Take care!

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February 12, 20110 found this helpful

Thank You! I'll look into Totally Awesome!

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