Cleaning Smoke Residue From Ceramic and Porcelain Figurines

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A house fire or smokey fireplace can wreak havoc on your treasured figurines. This is a page about cleaning smoke residue from ceramic and porcelain figurines.


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March 11, 2010

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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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

March 16, 2018

Can you tell me the best way to get knick knacks clean? I have a lot of collectibles and I'm trying to get them clean, but I don't wanna ruin them. Can you give me any ideas please?


Thank you.


March 16, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

sorry to hear about your house fire; the same happened to me a few years ago

it really depends on the knick knacks, though. If they're fabric obviously they can be laundered. If they were porcelain i don't see why you could not wash them.

activated charcoal removes smells. you can purchase activated charcoal here: (Affiliate Link) you can leave the knick knacks in an enclosed environment with the activated charcoal and that can remove the smell

this is also a really great site with lots of great dry sponge products and other products to help clean books, paper, etc lots of type of things, some of them specific to smoke damage

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March 25, 2010

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


March 27, 20100 found this helpful

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.

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March 30, 20101 found this helpful

Try spraying with window cleaner and then rinse. This worked for me. Some things I had to use a soft baby toothbrush for crevices.

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April 6, 2016

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.


Can someone please tell me on how to get these porcelain candle figurines back to looking the way they should before may?


July 2, 20170 found this helpful

I used a magic eraser after soaking the items in dishwater mixed with dish soap and baking soda. Hope this helps...

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May 17, 2015

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.




November 21, 20170 found this helpful

Magic Erasers will make quick work of cleaning these.

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April 26, 2015

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?


April 28, 20150 found this helpful

I would wash them in vinegar water. Maybe even let them soak in it for a few minutes.

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May 9, 2013

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?


Please answer my question.

By Val J. from Torrance, CA


May 11, 20131 found this helpful

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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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

March 3, 2010

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?



Cleaning Smoke of a Porcelain Figurine

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)


By Brenda

Cleaning Smoke of a Porcelain Figurine

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.

Regards (03/17/2005)

By Jo Bodey

Cleaning Smoke of a Porcelain Figurine

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)

Cleaning Smoke of a Porcelain Figurine

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)

By mary

Cleaning Smoke of a Porcelain Figurine

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.

By Cauleen

Cleaning Smoke of a Porcelain Figurine

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)

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