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After a house fire, I had many glass and ceramic items to clean. The polyurathane that had coated my walls left a film like black glossy paint on them. I found if I soaked them in ammonia over night, they washed clean, even my Hummels.
I used a plastic paint bucket with lid. I also found out the hard way without rubber gloves even the ammonia fumes would burn my hands!
Hope this helps someone out. Fires are one of the worst things that can happen to a family. Most of my treasures were from my late mother-in-law. I was so happy to be able to save and clean them without damage.
By Tomboy53 from Conway, SC
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My father had a house fire and there were Hummel figurines and other porcelain/clay products inside. How do I get the soot off?
By Teresa Boutte from Pensacola, FL
Call your insurance company and they can give you a list of names and phone numbers of companies who do fire smoke/soot cleanup for their professional advice on any items.
Try spraying with window cleaner and then rinse. This worked for me. Some things I had to use a soft baby toothbrush for crevices.
I had a house fire and everything is covered in smoke damage. I have a wedding porcelain set that is covered in smoke damage and I've tried using Clorox wipes, I've tried scrubbing them, and I don't know what to do.
I used a magic eraser after soaking the items in dishwater mixed with dish soap and baking soda. Hope this helps...
10 years ago I packed my entire household for a cross-country move. Unknowingly, I wrapped my Hummels in newspaper. I do not have time for the repeated cleanings with a toothbrush and am very afraid to damage them. Will the same process used for removing fire smoke resolve this problem? I am so hoping it will! Thank you.
Magic Erasers will make quick work of cleaning these.
I recently bought some drinking glasses from 1971 that have years of smoke build up on them. They have a wonderful painted design on them, but they look very faded from the build up. How is the best way to clean this without losing the paint design?
I would wash them in vinegar water. Maybe even let them soak in it for a few minutes.
My Hummel figurines were in a bad fire. Why did they look like there was only black smoke on them from a distance and still looked all together and OK, but when someone touched them, they all fell apart into cinders?
By Val J. from Torrance, CA
My best guess would be they were super-heated by the fire, that even if they didn't look damaged until touched, the heat changed the ceramic base.
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I have a porcelain figurine with a lot of smoke damage. My husband once smoked and the figure is all yellow from the smoke. How can I safely clean it?
I don't know if this will work, but I use denture tablets to clean out old dirty bottles and it works just fine! It doesn't hurt dentures, so it shouldn't your vase ! (03/17/2005)
Is there any reason why you can't just wash it? If it is fully glazed I would just wash it in warm soapy water with a soft cloth. Wash it in a plastic bowl or place a towel in the sink to ensure it doesn't get knocked/chipped on the sink or tap/faucet. Use a soft toothbrush to get in any cracks and crevices.
By Jo Bodey
Put into your sink bowl, then spray with 409 spray. It does a wonderful job. Then rinse off with just warm water. iIdo this with my little hurricane lamps. (03/17/2005)
If nothing else works, try toothpaste made specifically for smokers and very gently brush it on and rinse. It may remove the yellow smoke stain. (03/21/2005)
Before cleaning with any commercial cleaner, you must be sure the painted design is under the glaze. You can tell this by holding the piece to the light to see if the paint has a shine over it. If not, then the design was done after the firing and may come off with rubbing with any kind of brush or cleaner. Most conservationists use an enzyme cleaner... but if you don't have access to one, then good old 'spit' works. Yes, spit. it may seem a bit gross, but it is so neutral as to not harm the paint. use a soft Q-tip and gently rub over each area a bit at a time. if you are patient (and it takes patience and lots of time) it will work well. Often you cannot tell if there is any paint over the glaze until it is clean, but why take the chance. It works well. Then if there is no paint that is applied over the glaze when you are finished, you can wash in a mild liquid detergent. Make sure there are no holes in the piece as there are often in figurines. Some of the 19th century upright figures have holes for sand so the figure can be weighted. If water gets in the holes, mould can grow so easily. It likes dark and damp places. So be sure not to immerse in water. All the best with your piece.
I swear by pine sol and water, it'll peel the smoke and yellow off anything; walls, figurines, windows, even fabrics. 1/4 cup into the washer with the smoke smelly stuff, no detergent, no bleach either. Wash through one cycle, then wash again to remove the pine sol residue, you could use detergent the second time but still no bleach. Whatever the articles were will come out fresh as new. This works for tobacco smoke and smoke damage from a fire. Also works good for mildewed items, just be gentle if the fabric calls for it. (12/30/2008)