There are very few things quite like the stress that's caused by a flooded home. It's not something that's on your mind every day, and it may never affect you. But for those who have to deal with the consequences of a flooded home, the stress is tremendous.
Whether from a severe storm, a broken pipe or a leaking roof, flooding comes as a surprise and leaves you with nothing but stress and a ruined home. Although you may have to throw away some items, many others can be saved.
Water is destructive.
But there's always a possibility that certain things can be saved if cleaned appropriately. The American Cleaning Institute reminds you that “it (cleaning) is important that it be done right to prevent damage and illness." Don't give up right away by throwing everything out. Do a little online research to find out how to salvage items affected by the flood.
Hard surfaces like granite countertops and tile flooring are some of the easiest things to clean after a flood strikes. To clean these types of surfaces, do as you would normally, but with a little bit extra “oomph."
Use hot water and a heavy-duty cleaner across these surfaces to eliminate germs and bacteria. The heat from the water and the disinfectants in the heavy-duty cleaner will bring your hard surfaces back to new.
Place these items in a tub or large sink of water. Add about 2 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water. You can use hot water if you prefer, but it's unnecessary due to the bleach's powerful cleaning properties. The bleach will disinfect your items in about 10 minutes from start to finish. Let the items air dry for the best results.
If clothing has been affected by the floodwater, take it outside immediately to dry out. If the clothing has been in the water for more than a few days, there's a chance that mold could be growing, making them unsafe to wear.
According to one state's Department of Health, to avoid mold growth, cleaning up affected areas should happen within 48 hours of the flood. Once dried out, throw the clothes in your washer and dryer (on high heat), and they should be good to go.
There's no easy way to clean upholstered furniture. The safest way to disinfect it without ruining it would be to use professional services. Simple, at-home cleaning techniques will not suffice here.
At the very least, you can use disinfecting products that won't damage the material, but it's extremely hard to remedy the problem without professional help.
Something you may not know is that books can actually be salvaged. Again, this depends on how long the books have been left in water. But if they appear to be intact when you're cleaning up, put them in the freezer inside plastic bags.
The water will dry out and the temperatures will kill the contaminated water. The plastic lessens your chances of mildew forming. Once frozen, take them out and gently wipe away any leftover dirt or mud. You can also take books to a professional cleaner for the best results.
Unfortunately, almost always, carpeting and rugs should be removed and thrown away after a flood. Quicken Loans states that “you're probably going to have to rip" carpet up and replace it.
However, if you're certain that the carpet or rug has not come into contact with sewage water and that the carpet or rug has only been wet for less than 24 hours, you may still be able to save it. Hang the rugs outside to hose them down, dry them out and clean them with a disinfecting cleaner. Inside carpets should be professionally cleaned.
Because bleach may be harmful to metals used in flatware, use antibacterial soap to clean your utensils. It's important to go one by one during this process in order to rinse away all of the bacteria that have been left behind.
Once finished, place all of your utensils in the dishwasher and use the setting with high heat for added safety. Between the antibacterial soap and the dishwasher's heat, any remaining germs will be killed.
To clean refrigerators and freezers, the first step is to unplug them so that they're completely turned off. Then, take out all of the food inside (as well as all other items). Toss all of the food in the garbage because you don't want to risk eating something that has been contaminated by the floodwater.
Let the appliances defrost before cleaning them. Then, use disposable paper towels and any type of disinfectant cleaner (bleach is always the best option) to clean all of the surfaces inside both appliances. After disinfecting them and wiping down the insides, leave the doors open so that they dry out completely.
To clean all of your other appliances, you'll take steps similar to cleaning your refrigerator and freezer. It's always most important to make sure all excess water is first removed.
Your second step is removing any leftover mud or dirt from all surfaces of the appliance. Then, use industrial-strength cleaner or bleach to wipe down all of your appliances. Even if mud and dirt were not left behind, harmful bacteria could still be surviving on all surfaces, so it's important to wipe down everything.
Wood furniture is difficult to save. The first step here is to place aluminum foil under each leg of your wooden furniture. The foil helps prevent the wood from soaking up more water. Depending on the type of furniture, you should remove the drawers carefully so that they can dry out as well. Open any doors that may be attached to the piece of furniture so the inside can dry out faster as well.
Use paper towels and wood-safe disinfectant to wipe down the surfaces. Follow this step by using paper towels to pat dry all of the wet surfaces of the wood. Simply allowing wooden furniture to air dry will most likely cause it to become damaged, as it will begin to warp and grow mold. Soaking up the excess water with paper towels is essential to the survival of wood. It's important to begin the cleanup process right away. If the wood has been sitting or soaking in water for a period longer than a couple of days, it may be completely ruined.
When in doubt, call in the professionals to be sure. It's always good to get an expert's opinion regarding natural disasters. Make sure your apartment is weather-ready and err on the side of caution.