Flooding: About Cleaning Up

What you should do

If there has been flooding in your home or business, remove carpet and any upholstered furniture or stuffed animals that may have come in contact with contaminated floodwaters. To avoid mold growth, dry out any flooded areas within 48 hours. If you have had flooding, you need to clean and dry your house or business and everything in it. Cleaning properly will remove hazards from bacteria and viruses, and drying will prevent problems from mold. When cleaning out your basement, home, or business:

Throw away wet materials that can’t be cleaned

  • For insurance purposes, take photographs of all the damaged property that you must throw away.
  • Wash curtains, clothing, and bedding with hot soapy water. Bleach them whenever possible and then dry and iron them.
  • Flush rugs and furniture with clean water, and shampoo and air-dry them.

Clean safely

  • In order to protect yourself from germs in the water, mold on surfaces and the chemicals in cleaning supplies, cover your body. Wear pants, long sleeves, boots, and rubber gloves.
  • Protect your eyes, nose and lungs.
  • Buy goggles and an N-95 mask at the hardware store and use them when working in flooded areas or cleaning mold.
  • Use soap or cleaning products with a disinfectant for killing germs. Never mix bleach with other cleaning supplies in the same bucket.
  • Open windows and use fans to pull fumes from your work area.
  • To control dust, avoid dry sweeping. Mist down areas to contain dust and collect the dust with a wet/dry shop vac.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when you are done cleaning.

Dry flooded areas thoroughly

  • Areas that stay wet or damp for more than 48 hours can grow mold.
  • If carpets, clothing, paper, and other absorbent materials cannot be completely dried, it is best to throw them out.
  • Run bathroom and kitchen ventilators to keep the air moving in your home.
  • If there is no standing water and it is safe to use electric appliances, use fans to help dry damp areas. Fans mounted in windows and blowing out will not blow dust or mold spores about in living areas.
  • Do not pump water out into the sewer system as it will worsen problems we are already having throughout the state with sewage treatment. Water should be pumped out into your yard or into storm water drain pipes.
  • Once things are properly cleaned (disinfected) and dried they should be safe from bacteria and viruses.

Get help

  • If there is a large amount of mold or flood damage, you may want to hire a professional to help you clean up. Ask your homeowner insurance company for a recommendation.
  • People with asthma, allergies or other breathing problems may be more sensitive to mold. Talk to your medical provider if you aren't sure whether it is safe for you to clean up after a flood