Cleaning Up After A Flood

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option

Hand Washing 
Remember the golden rule of clean-up work:  Wash your hands thoroughly--and do it often!  Simple, basic hygiene—hand washing—is  the single most important thing you can do to protect your health when you clean up after a flood.

Be Sure to wash your hands…

  • after you touch any surfaces or objects that may have been in contact with flood water or sewage
  • before you eat or drink anything
  • before you touch your face

What if there’s no running water?

  • transport and store clean water in clean plastic containers
  • get a beverage cooler equipped with a spigot - and keep it filled with clean water for hand washing

What if the water is contaminated?

If the water is suspect, add a tablespoon of bleach to each gallon of water before you wash your hands with it.

The fine art of hand washing:

1. Wet hands
Soap up
Work up a lather
Use a nail brush
Use soap and lather up again
Dry hands with paper towel

Source:  University of Minnesota Extension Service

Cleaning Up After A Flood

Home Restoration

How do I get my home cleaned up?
The basics of drying out your home:

  • Use outside air to dry your home.
  • Open windows and doors - or use exhaust fans.
  • If available, use a room de-humidifier - and empty it often.

Drying walls and other surfaces:

  • Cavities in walls, floors and ceilings, must be opened, cleaned, decontaminated and thoroughly dried.
  • Walls must be allowed to dry from the inside out.
  • Remove mud and water from all surfaces and get surface materials dry within 24-48 hours.
  • Release any water or mud that’s been trapped in wall, ceiling or floor cavities.
  • Remove all interior wall finishing materials and insulation - and throw out any wet insulation.


  • Most plaster, wallboard and paneling will have to be discarded.
  • If you have allergies, wear a dust mask. Consult with your physician if you have questions.
  • Be careful if you use a gasoline engine indoors - you could be exposing yourself to carbon monoxide.


What can I keep - and what do I have to throw away?

  • Pull up waterlogged carpet immediately, to prevent any further floor damage
  • Carpet pads cannot be saved. They must be removed and discarded.
  • Attempt to save carpets or throw rugs only if they would be very expensive to replace.
  • Clean and dry your floors thoroughly before re-carpeting.

Floors & Woodwork

  • Remove any mud and silt.
  • Scrub floors and woodwork within 48 hours, using a stiff brush, water, detergent and disinfectant.
  • Allow all wood to dry thoroughly.


  • Discard upholstered furniture if it has been exposed to flood water or sewage.
  • Clean, rinse and disinfect wood furniture.
  • Place wood furniture outside in a shady area so it will dry slowly.


  • If any materials are still wet or moist after 24-48 hours, you should assume they have mold growing on them.
  • You can disinfect floors or wood surfaces using a solution of ¼ cup bleach in a gallon of water. If mold has already begun to grow, use a stronger solution - approximately ½ gallon of bleach in a five gallon pail.


Salvaging Household Items

  • Line dry all articles before attempting to clean or treat them.
  • After drying, brush off loose dirt and debris.
  • Send “Dry Clean Only” items to a professional cleaner.
  • Wash clothes several times in cold water only. Add up to a cup of bleach per load of wash if it will not             harm the clothing.
  • Rinse and dry all items as soon as possible.


  • Throw out mattresses and pillows that have been in contact with flood water or sewage.
  • Clean blankets in same way as clothing.

Source:  University of Minnesota Extension Service

Cleaning Up After A Flood
Food Safety

You should generally discard anything in soft packaging or screw-top glass bottles that may have been in contact with flood water. You can sometimes save commercially canned goods in metal cans or rigid plastic containers.

To clean canned goods:

  • remove the labels
  • wash in water and detergent
  • sanitize with a solution of one tablespoon bleach in a gallon of water

Discard canned goods if:

  • the surface is rusted and pitted
  • the can is swollen or leaking
  • the can is badly creased or dented at the rims or seams

Goods in rigid plastic containers should be saved only if they:

  • were not submerged in flood water
  • are not soiled around the cap or closure
  • do not have a defective closure
  • do not have a dented cap or crown, or an abnormal rim seal

Discard refrigerated or frozen food if:

  • it normally requires refrigeration, and it’s been above 40 degrees F. for four hours or more
  • it had been frozen, and it’s been thawed for two hours or more
  • t has deteriorated in quality, or may have been in contact with flood water
  • And always remember--If in doubt…..throw it out!

Source:  University of Minnesota Extension Service