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Cleaning after the Flood
  • Follow sanitary procedures when cleaning up affected areas. Avoid as much contact with floodwaters as you can, as well as objects that have been in contact with the water. While cleaning up, keep children away from contaminated areas.

Recommended Items During Cleanup After a Flood

  • Mask and other protective equipment
  • Buckets, mops, and squeegees
  • Plastic garbage bags
  • Unscented detergent
  • Large containers for wet bedding and clothing as well as clotheslines to dry them.
Supplementary Information
  • Depending on the situation, you may need to rent extension cords, submersible pumps, a shop (heavy-duty) vacuum, dehumidifiers, carbon monoxide detectors, portable fans, or heaters.
  • When using this equipment, be sure that none of the extension cords come into contact with water.
  • Slowly clear the floodwaters from your home. Drain them gradually (around one third of the volume per day) because if the ground is still saturated, removing the water too quickly may cause the walls or floors to bulge.
  • Use pumps or heaters to remove more water and a shop (heavy-duty) vacuum to remove the rest.
  • For information on restoring wells or reservoirs, contact your local health and sanitation department.
  • Debris and other municipal waste must be removed from your yard as bacteria and mold can grow on this type of waste.

Heaters and Appliances

  • Until all the water has been removed, the interior temperature of your home should not be higher than about 40°F.

  • If you use pumps or gas, propane, or kerosene heating buy and install a carbon monoxide detector. Gas equipment can produce significant amounts of carbon monoxide, an odorless and colorless lethal gas, if there is insufficient or obstructed ventilation.

  • Don’t use any appliances, electrical outlets, switchboxes, or electrical panels that were submerged in the flood until they have been deemed safe by authorities.

  • Whether your heating system runs off wood, gas, or electricity, an inspector should verify it before you start using it again. If your heating unit was submerged, replace the fan motors, fuses, and control panel before using it again.

  • Air ducts should be cleaned or replaced.

  • The filters and insulation of your furnace, refrigerator, and freezer should be replaced if they were wet during the flood. Often times, it’s more cost-effective to replace the entire appliance.

Dirt and Debris
  • Discard all soaked or dirty material and other debris.
  • Open up the walls and remove the drywall, paneling, and insulation until at least 20 inches up from the highest watermark.
  • Use running water to clean the walls and larger wooden furniture. Rinse several times.
  • Clean all surfaces and furniture with water and an unscented detergent. Make sure to rinse everything.
Floor Drains
  • Rinse and disinfect floor drains and sump pumps with water and detergent. Use a stiff-bristled brush to remove dirt and grease stains.
  • Clean or replace exterior drains if they are blocked. Consult a professional’s advice if you’re not sure about doing this task yourself.
  • Ventilate and dehumidify your home until it is completely dry.
  • Rinse and clean all floors as quickly as possible.
  • Replace flooring that has been deeply penetrated by floodwater or sewage.
  • Clean the interior walls and floors with a mixture of water and unscented detergent.
Carpets and Furniture damage
  • Carpets must be dried within the first two days after a flood. For larger surfaces, hire a qualified professional. Immediately discard any carpet that has been soaked in sewage.
  • Remove remaining dirt or mud and displace your furniture and larger appliances.
  • If these items are simply damp, let the mud dry and use a stiff bristle brush to remove it.
  • In order to check if an item is dry, place a piece of transparent plastic wrap on the surface. If the item is still damp, the part under the plastic wrap will appear darker than the rest of the item. Continue to dry the item until this no longer occurs.
  • For upholstered furniture, you should consult a professional to help you determine which pieces can be salvaged. Meanwhile, remove the cushions and allow them to dry separately but don’t remove any upholstery.
  • Wooden furniture: remove drawers and open doors. Don’t dry it too quickly as you risk cracking the wood.
Mold created by flood waters
  • Mold can cause serious health problems.
  • In order for your house to be covered by insurance, you may need to have it professionally cleaned. Communicate with your particular insurance company for exact information.
  • If mold is present, wear a mask and disposable gloves.
  • In order to limit the growth of mold, place all items in a dry and well-ventilated area within 48 hours of the flood. Install fans if necessary.
  • However, clothes, furs, papers, and books can be placed in your freezer and dealt with when you have more time.
  • Damp mold will smear and spread if cleaned. Wait until it dries, bring the item outside, and clean with a stiff bristle brush.
  • To help kill mold spores, spray a small amount of isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) on affected items.
Food and Medication
  • Canned foods that were not damaged in the flood must be cleaned and disinfected.
  • Discard all medications, cosmetics, and other toiletries that were exposed to the floodwaters.
  • Throw away the following items if they’ve been exposed to floodwaters:

o The contents of your fridge and freezer, especially meat and fresh fruits and vegetables.

o Boxed items

o Bottled drinks and homemade preserves – the surfaces under the seals of the jars and bottles cannot be sufficiently disinfected.

o Canned goods that have been damaged (dented) or leaked.

What To Discard after a flood

All insulation material, particleboard furniture, mattresses, box springs, stuffed toys, pillows, bedding, upholstery, and cushions that have been exposed to floodwaters.

What To Save after a flood
  • High quality furniture can be preserved. It needs to be cleaned, disinfected, rinsed, and dried with the help of fans. But, avoid placing it in direct sunlight or using heat as this may crack the wood.
  • Clothing can be salvaged. Try to scratch off noticeable patches of dirt and then machine wash several times. Dry quickly.

Before Returning Home after flooding

After a flood, you cannot return home if:
  • The regular water supply has not been inspected and declared fit for use.
  • Each piece of contaminated furniture has not been completely cleaned, disinfected, and dried.
  • All kitchen utensils and cookware have not been completely cleaned and disinfected with a solution of one part bleach to two parts boiling water.
You do not have access to proper sanitation. For further information, consult your local sanitation authorities.