Cleaning Up Your Home After A Flood

Before you start cleanup activities, contact your insurance company and take pictures of the home and your belongings. It is important to document all damage, and review it with your insurance provider, prior to cleaning up your home or disposing of debris.  Remember – drying your home and removing water-damaged items is your most important step for preventing mold damage. Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots, and be cautious when cleaning up.

  • Separate damaged items from undamaged items.
  • Remove standing water and wet materials.  Use a wet vacuum to remove water from floors, carpets, and hard surfaces. Dry your home and everything in it as quickly as you can – within 24 to 48 hours if you can.
  • Be careful when moving furnishings or debris, because they may be waterlogged and heavier.
  • Pump water out slowly from your home. If you have several feet of water, do not pump all the water out at once.
    • Pump about 1/3 of the water out every day to avoid possible pressure build-up from the outside walls.
    • Removing the water too quickly may result in outside pressure being higher than the pressure on the inside walls, which can cause the walls and floors to crack and collapse.
  • Hose down the inside of the home to remove health hazards from flood water mud. Shovel out as much mud as possible. Quickly remove the water you use during this cleaning.
  • Open all doors and windows when you are working and leave as many open as is safe when you leave.
    • Open inside doors, especially closets and interior rooms, to let air flow to all areas. Take doors off their hinges if you need to.
    • Open kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanity doors; remove drawers, wipe them clean, and stack them to dry.
    • Open the attic access to let air flow to the attic. Before you open the attic door, make sure nothing will fall on you.
  • When electricity is safe to use, use fans and dehumidifiers to remove moisture. Do not use fans if mold has already started to grow, because the fans may spread the mold.
  • Clean with water and a detergent. Remove all mold you can see. Dry right away. If you use cleaning products, do not mix cleaning products together. DO NOT mix bleach and ammonia because it can create toxic vapors.
  • Throw away items that can’t be cleaned and dried, AND items that absorbed water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected.
  • Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters and mud. When in doubt, throw it out. This includes canned goods, plastic utensils, baby bottle nipples and containers with food or liquid that has been sealed shut.
  • If the water didn’t get behind the walls, you can reduce the chances of mold and mildew by wiping down all surfaces that had gotten wet with a solution of one cup of liquid household bleach to a gallon of water.
  • Painting or caulking over mold will not prevent mold from growing. Fix the water problem completely and clean up all the mold before you paint or caulk.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are health hazards.