Smoke from a small fire or cigarettes can be extremely harmful to most electronics. Even if the electronic device still looks as good as new, it could have internal damage caused by the smoke. If you want your equipment to function properly again, the smoke must be removed. It’s also essential to clear away the stench that typically follows these cleaning efforts.
Smoke stains may not be removed using conventional cleaning methods, but there are a few clever ideas you might try at home! Keep reading for some cleaning solutions you can try to clean your fire-damaged electronics and smoke damaged electronics.
How Can Smoke and Soot Damage Electronics?
The ash that remains after a fire is called “soot.” Smoke and soot damage to electronics can occur for a number of reasons. The three main problems smoke causes to electronics are corrosion, insulation, and magnetization.
Corrosion is the deterioration of metal as a result of oxidation. The corrosive nature of soot may have an impact on the structural integrity and lifespan of critical components.
Soot can coat surfaces and insulate internal parts, resulting in extreme overheating and leading to early failure or even fire. If these components overheat, they emit poisonous gases into the air as well.
Smoke has a magnetic charge, which is known as magnetization. Many people are unaware that smoking generates a magnetic charge. This can cause significant problems with electronic devices, including causing the device to short-circuit.
How to Clean Smoke Damage from Electronics
Smoke can wreak havoc on your electronics’ interior components and can cause them to melt. This may prevent the electronics from operating properly, making them useless. Smoke and soot remain after a fire, so removing these residues should be done carefully, or you risk causing further harm to your electronics.
It’s best not to use cleaning agents containing bleach, ammonia, acetone, ethyl acid, or vinegar on your devices. These cleaning agents can create a dangerous gas, and they may react with the plastic in your device’s case to cause more damage. After you’ve assessed the smoke damage of your electronics, try any of the following methods to restore electronics:
Cotton Ball and Rubbing Alcohol
This is an oldie but a goody! Try using a cotton ball and rubbing alcohol – dabbing the wet cotton on the exterior of the device. Then, wipe it down with another dry cloth or let it air dry for several hours before attempting to turn it back on. Never soak any electronic components in alcohol. Repeat if necessary. Alcohol will kill most bacteria that cause smoke odors.
It’s best to complete this process outside since sometimes there may be lingering vapors from the cleaning solution itself. You don’t want them getting into your lungs while trying to get the cigarette smell out of electronics! It’s important to note, IPA or Isopropyl Alcohol is 99% is safe and effective for consumer use to clean personal computers and electronic devices. A cloth or cotton swab can be applied with alcohol to the electronic parts that need to be cleaned, but be sure not to leave any fibers on the device components.
You may use an air compressor to blow out the dust and ash that is causing the odor, moving the air through the device to ensure it reaches every crack, vent, and port. You shouldn’t apply too much pressure since you might damage or dislodge a component. This method should be attempted outside so as not to distribute the buildup within your house.
Baking soda is another good cleaning solution for smoke-damaged electronics. Just sprinkle some baking soda on top of the affected area, and let it sit overnight to absorb any remaining odors before you brush off excess powder from the device.
Lemon Juice and Salt
You can even try lemon juice and salt! Mix equal parts of both ingredients, then drizzle and rub the mixture on the exterior(only) of your device (beware: lemon juice has corrosive byproducts that might remove paint!) Let it sit overnight, so juices have time to absorb any odors. Wipe off excess salts in the morning with a dry cloth before powering up electronic devices again.
Another cleaning method is to use dryer sheets. Simply take unused dryer sheets and place them inside the device overnight so they can absorb any cigarette smell inside of it. This cleaning solution should help reduce odors in your electronic devices after some time, but you might need to repeat this process several times before noticing a difference!
Some people like to place their smoke-damaged electronics outside in a sunny spot on a nice day, too, with hopes that sunlight will help rid devices of cigarette smell. If the weather is nice and you live in a safe place, you can even leave the device outside for a few days. Just be careful because heat and prolonged sun exposure can cause damage to screens and electronics.
Send the Electronics Back to the Manufacturer
If all else fails, you can always send your affected devices back to the manufacturer for cleaning and repair. Especially if it’s still under warranty, they’ll be more than happy to help! Just ‘throwing out’ old electronics is not recommended since they contain heavy metals and can release toxic fumes and other hazardous chemicals into the environment.
Restore Smoke Damaged Electronics with These Great Tips!
If none of these cleaning solutions work, then at least try removing batteries from the affected device for 24 hours (if possible). This helps because sometimes components like circuit boards need time to cool down before you attempt cleaning again, especially if liquids were spilled onto the electronics recently. Once all parts are completely dry, power up damaged devices one by one, checking each time for smells or other issues before turning on the next device.
The cleaning methods mentioned in this article are simple and can cut down on the time you spend cleaning your electronics. The last thing you want to have to do is dispose of a damaged device! With these easy-to-follow cleaning tips, you’ll keep those nasty cigarette smells away from your electronic equipment.
For professional restoration services, PuroClean’s team is trained to handle smoke and soot damage from small to large jobs. Give your local PuroClean a call to begin the restoration process. Our certified technicians are available 24/7 at 1-800-775-7876 to handle your emergency restoration needs.