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Tips for Cleaning Damaged Contents

Our Recommendation to You

There is an art and science involved in the successful restoration of fire and water damaged contents and this is something that Swartz Contracting does on behalf of our clients every day. The knowledge, equipment and procedures necessary to successfully restore a high percentage of damaged contents is something that we have developed over many years of direct experience and training.

We are providing some general tips for contents restoration below but for the best results we highly recommend using a trained professional like Swartz Contracting for contents restoration services.


Books should be dried by standing them upright on their end.Talc powder placed between the pages will assist in drying, but must be brushed off once dry. If a book is severely damaged,
it may help to freeze it until you have time to properly deal with the damage. We have special equipment, training and resources to handle all aspects of book restoration if necessary.


When cleaning clothes post emergency, it is important to find a professional who can properly address odor removal. We work with specialists on a daily basis who can provide assistance if required.

Most ordinary household cleaning products may not be able to remove odors completely from clothing.You can improve washing effectiveness by using a high quality laundry detergent containing additives like baking soda that improve the cleaning power of the detergent.The addition of a degreaser like Simple Green® can also increase cleaning results depending on how much odor and soot damage is present.


All food jars or cans should be washed in detergent and water and marked with a greased pencil. Throw away any canned goods that are rusted or that have bulged. It is also very important to discard any food that has thawed.

In order to remove odor from your freezer or refrigerator, create a solution of water and baking soda to wash the inside.You can also create a solution from one cup of vinegar or household ammonia to one gallon of water (do not mix the two!). Placing a piece of charcoal or an open container of baking soda in your freezer or refrigerator can also assist in absorbing odor.

Furniture, Floors, and Walls

Household baking soda and water will clean light smoke and grease off of many household surfaces. Light soot and dust can be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner. Removing smoke and grease from painted surfaces is much more difficult, as a solution needs to be created of water and starch, painted on, and then dry rubbed with a soft brush or a clean cloth. Smoke damage restoration is best left to a professional like Swartz Contracting.

Electrical Appliances

It is important to contact a service representative prior to using an appliance that has been exposed to water, steam, high temperatures or smoke—especially electric appliances.Your appliances may need to be professionally cleaned and serviced prior to use.

Hinges and Locks

Should a door begin to stick, spray it with graphite or dismantle it and wipe all the parts with oil. Hinges should be thoroughly cleaned and oiled.


Any pots, pans, flatware, etc. need to be washed in hot soapy water with a degreaser. Any copper or brass can be polished with any standard cleaning product.


All leather materials should be wiped with a damp cloth and then a dry cloth. Purses or shoes should be stuffed with newspaper in order to retain their shape. Any leather materials should be dried away from direct heat and/or sun. Should you have any severely stained leather garments, you may have to seek assistance from a specialty leather cleaner.

Personal Effects and Photos

Any photos that appear to be damp or wet may be laid flat on towels to dry. If they are stuck together, or stuck to frames, the photos need to be submerged in warm water and gently pulled off the surface. Any papers that become moldy due to moisture need to be photo copied and then discarded.

Wood Furniture

It is important to not dry any wood furniture in the sun as the wood can twist or warp.You must also remove drawers so that they can thoroughly dry. Wood furniture or fixtures may be scrubbed with a stiff brush and a cleaning agent. Wood surfaces can also be rubbed with a fine grade steel wool pad dipped in liquid polishing wax and then buffed to a shine.