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Cleaning Up After a Hurricane or Flood

Millions of Americans have been affected by hurricanes, and in the aftermath, face the daunting task of cleaning and/or rebuilding. Our thoughts are with those who are facing a challenge. Here are some guidelines to help you through a flood of any kind.

It’s important that cleaning and disinfecting homes after a flood is done right, to prevent illness and further damage to the property. There’s a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning is the physical removal of dirt, germs and debris by scrubbing, washing and rinsing. Disinfecting means the application of a product that will kill nearly all of the germs that its intended to target.

Here are the steps to follow when cleaning and disinfecting post-flood:

  • First, take photos of the damage.
  • Wear protective clothing like long-sleeved shirts, long pants, rubber gloves and waterproof shoes.
  • Anything that has been wet for 2 or more days should be brought outside, even if you can’t see evidence of mold.
  • Anything that has absorbed water and can’t be cleaned, like mattresses, carpets or stuffed animals, should be thrown away.
  • If you can’t wash cloth items in hot water, they too should be thrown away.
  • Clean floors, stoves, sinks, dishes and countertops first with warm soapy water and then with bleach (one cup or less per gallon of water). Don’t mix bleach with other cleaners.
  • Throw away fresh food and pantry food that has come into direct contact with water, even unopened food in glass containers. Cans can develop rust and paper labels on food can develop bacteria.
  • Wash flood-soaked fabrics once the water and electricity are back on and your washing machine has been checked for damage. Pre-wash clothes with cool water and laundry detergent first to prevent stains from setting. Then wash with laundry detergent again in the hottest water the fabric can withstand. If the clothes have come in contact with sewage, it may be necessary to throw them out.

Be sure to keep your cleaning products in a secure location after a flood and while cleaning. And, here are some additional resources for cleaning up post-hurricane from the EPA, the CDC and HUD.

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TELL US WHAT YOU THINK (1)

  1. A
    Amy Winters

    I have been lucky not to have to deal with flood damage to my home. Even though I have never had flood damage to my house, I can appreciate that you have a list of steps to take after a flood. I use bullet point number 3 when my kids decide they want to play with water in the house. I assume if the damage is extensive, a professional may need to be called out to help with repairs and restorations.

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