Should I Throw Out My Belongings After a Fire?

A house fire happens almost every minute. If this happens to you, you may wonder if you can keep the possessions that didn’t burn. You might be able to salvage many items, but sometimes, it’s safer and cheaper to let some items go. Here’s a list of things you should throw away after a house fire.

Why Certain Items Must Go

Even if some of your belongings look okay to hold on to after a house fire, it’s better to part with them. The fire and heat may have changed the composition of chemicals in your items. These changes could compromise their safety and effectiveness. 

The extinguishing water and chemicals used by the firefighters may have also affected your items. Additionally, smoke and soot might have contaminated the objects and could irritate the skin, nostrils, or lungs upon contact or inhalation.


Throw out all your and your pet’s food after a house fire, including perishable and nonperishable items. Food in the refrigerator and freezer would be at risk of spoilage if exposed to warmer temperatures, smoke, and fumes.

Bottled, packaged, or canned foods might seem unaffected, but the fire’s heat may have activated harmful bacteria inside the containers. Toxic fumes can seep through sealed jars and cans and contaminate the food.

Medications and Cosmetics

Dispose of any medications and makeup, even if they were unopened or appear untouched by fire or water. For safety’s sake, toiletries such as toothpaste, sunscreens, lotions, and shaving creams should also go in the trash.

Clothes and Textiles

A reputable fire damage restoration expert may be able to salvage some of your textiles after a house fire. However, keeping clothing, mattresses, and any fabrics exposed to fire and smoke can be risky. Soot and other microscopic particles may remain deeply embedded in the material, even after cleaning. You’ll want to discard burnt or singed items.

Appliances and Electronics

Do not attempt to use appliances or electronic equipment until checking them for heat and water damage. If water, smoke, or soot reaches the internal components, the devices could be dangerous and costly to repair. It’s safer to replace them than to risk short circuits and shock.

Items You May Keep

You may be able to save specific items even if they look damaged on the outside. Non-plastic kitchenware such as pots, pans, and utensils should be okay after a thorough cleaning. The same goes for most glass and metal objects that survive fire.

Books and photo albums could still be intact and usable with the help of a restoration specialist.

Get Professional Help

If a fire disaster strikes your home, you don’t have to manage the cleanup alone. It may be best not to try DIY hacks for your most treasured belongings. Call a fire damage restoration professional immediately to assess your home’s condition and help you recover.

Your homeowner’s insurance policy should cover costs associated with hiring a company to deal with obvious and hidden damage from soot, smoke, and water. An expert restoration specialist can advise what to keep or throw away after a house fire. Reach out immediately for help to avoid further devastation and restore what you can save.