Content cleaning in the remediation world refers to cleaning any items within the home that one might bring in when they move and take when they leave. 

As with anything else, each type of content will have a specific way in which it is restored depending on the severity of the fire or smoke damage that it incurred, as well as the material it is made of. 

There are two basic types of cleaning that restorers will utilize when cleaning the content of a building or home: wet cleaning and/or dry cleaning. Wet cleaning involves the use of water-based solutions, while dry soil cleaning involves the use of dry sponges, HEPA vacuums and more. 

In this article, we will dive into other types of content that might be affected in a fire and smoke event, what restoration of those items might look like and whether the contents can, or should, be restored at all.

Beds, Mattresses and Box Springs

When bedding and mattresses go through fire and smoke events, they are commonly replaced. Things weren’t always this way, however. More times than not, it used to be that mattresses, bedding and box springs were wet cleaned, along with pillows. 

When clients request new bedding, it can most certainly be honored, however, new beds and bedding aren’t always necessary. In reality, mattresses and bedding can often be cleaned as the surface of such things are generally color-fast, though any pre-existing stains or defects will remain after the cleaning process is complete. 

In instances where the room in which the fire originated is far from the bedroom, or where the fire event in question produced only light to moderate amounts of soot, replacing the bed entirely isn’t really necessary. 

Window Treatments 

Draperies, sheers, venetian or mini blinds, swags and more all constitute as window treatments, and should be dealt with according to the best judgment of a professional restorer. 

Per the client’s request, draperies and other window treatments may be replaced, however, sometimes the cost of replacement will far outweigh the cost of cleaning. In this situation, cleaning may be the most effective means of restoration, provided that cleaning is, indeed, possible. 

To carry out this task, restorers will remove draperies, along with their mounting brackets and rods. The remediator will then go about addressing each type of window treatment according to the severity of the need, as well as according to the window treatment type. 

Light to moderately affected window treatments will likely be restored on-site, however, there will be times when draperies and such will be shipped to an off-site location. 

Venetian and mini blinds, in particular, must be handled with care. Typically, they are placed on a padded surface or are run through an ultrasonic machine for cleaning. Other types of window treatments will likewise be restored according to the need and type of material they are made of. 

Restorers will pay special close attention to the room in which each drapery or window treatment was located by tagging and labeling each window decorative item removed. 

All pre-existing defects, like sun fading and uneven lengths, will be documented by the restorer. 

Electronic Contents

When assessing small appliances and electrical items throughout a fire-affected home or structure, a restoration technician’s number one concern will be safety. Thus, remediation staff will secure electrical breakers and will adhere to other safety protocol to keep everyone in the immediate environment safe.

Having said that, there are times when remediation experts may feel more comfortable using an outside contractor to aid in the process of restoring electronics. As one might imagine, electronics can be pricey, and even older appliances and gadgets can be worth a large sum. Nevertheless, there are still times when cleaning electronic items can become pricier than having them replaced, completely. 

Unfortunately, electronics can become seriously damaged by the acidic nature of fire and smoke events, and can even malfunction due to high levels of humidity after a fire has been suppressed through liquid means. As such, all electronic items must be inspected, cleaned, and tested for functionality. 

Shades and Lamps

Though lampshade bases are generally simple and easy to clean, the shade itself can prove difficult to restore.

Typically, a lamp base can be remediated using wet cleaning methods appropriate for the material that the lamp base is made out of.

A lamp shade, however, will have to be handled carefully, as even touching the actual fabric of the affected lamp can set smoke into the material. 

Restorers attempting to clean lamp shades will likely be leery of using wet cleaning techniques, and rightly so. The fabric is typically highly porous and probably will not respond well to such methods.

Nevertheless, there may still be attempts at restoring lampshades, especially if they are expensive, at the discretion of both the client and the restorer. If the lampshade was inexpensive to begin with, however, replacement will likely be the best option, as the cost to clean the shade may be more than it would be to simply replace it. 

Sometimes Replacement, Rather Than Cleaning, Is the Best Option

In light of the aforementioned content, there are times when replacement is simply the best option when it comes to restoring window treatments, electronics and lamps. Having said that, every situation is different, and can be decided upon by both the client and the restorer, as to what the best solution for the situation may be. 

Remember, beds and mattresses aren’t always in need of replacement, especially if there was little to no effect caused to the bedding or mattress by smoke and fire. As always, defer to the judgment of your remediation expert for more details.