How to Clean up After a Flood

How to Cleanup After a FloodA flood is a devastating disaster in itself, but if left untreated, can lead to even further damage. Standing water and wet floors can quickly become a breeding ground for bacteria and mold if not cleaned up effectively.

Flood water may also contain sewage from overflowed or burst pipes, making it even more critical that you take the proper steps in protecting yourself and your family during the cleanup process.

Flood Cleanup – Before You Start:

  • Keep children and pets out of the area until flood cleanup is complete and you’ve determined it’s safe for them to enter the affected area.
  • Always wear rubber or other non-porous boots, gloves, and eye protection when working in the area.

Walk through the affected area to identify which items are salvageable and which are not.

  • While difficult to part with personal belongings, if they can’t be washed and disinfected you will need to remove and destroy them.
  • Common items that can’t be disinfected include mattresses, pillows, carpeting, rugs, books, cosmetics, baby toys, and upholstered furniture.
  • Drywall and insulation also can’t be disinfected after they come in contact with sewage or flood waters and should be removed and destroyed.

Finding the Right ToolFlood Cleanup

To remove the water and debris from the floor, Unger Professional floor squeegees are ideal for removing large volumes of water or debris and can be used on a variety of surfaces such as asphalt, tile, concrete, and linoleum.  They are commonly used for both residential and commercial tasks when there is a lot of surface area to clean and dry.

The type of squeegee to use for water removal depends on the type of floor.

Uneven floor, like tile and asphalt:  A foam squeegee is best because the soft foam rubber blade can adjust to the cleaning surface.

Smooth floor, like concrete and asphalt: A squeegee with a rubber blade is the best tool for the task.

Begin the Water Removal Process

Once you have the right floor squeegee, you can begin the water removal process.

  • To effectively move water and debris, pull (don’t push) the squeegee for best results.
  • Begin at the edge, moving the liquid and debris towards a drain.
  • If there isn’t a drain within the area, move the liquid and debris into a pool so that you can then use a bucket and pan for removal.
  • Continually tap squeegee to remove excess liquid or dirt.

Once the water has been removed:

  • Wash the floor surface with soap and warm, clean water.
  • The floor squeegee can continue to be used for this process.
  • Next, sanitize the surface with household bleach.
  • Mix one cup of bleach with 5 gallons of water in a large bucket.
  • Use the floor squeegee to spread the bleach mixture on the floor to sanitize the surface.
  • Allow the bleach to sanitize the floor, do not rinse with water, just let it air dry.

If there was mold growth on the floor surface: 

  • You will need to use a stronger bleach concoction by mixing 1 cup of bleach for every 1 gallon of water in a bucket.
  • Wash the floor surface with the bleach mixture.
  • Use a heavy duty brush, such as the Unger Professional HydroPower Bi-Level Scrub Brush or Unger Professional Outdoor Scrub Brush to scrub the floor clean.
  • Then, rinse the surface with clean water and allow to air dry.

Next, clean and sanitize all other hard surfaces with hot water and soap:

  • Laundry or dish soap are suitable for basic cleaning but to sanitize, bleach is necessary.
  • After you have cleaned with the soap, rinse the surface with clean water.
  • Then, add 1 cup of bleach for every 1 gallon of clean water in a bucket.
  • Sanitize the surface with this concoction and allow to air dry.
  • Food surfaces that may have come into contact with the flood water should follow the same cleanup process.
  • But only use 1 teaspoon of bleach for every gallon of bleach.

If you have a dehumidifier, this is ideal in helping with the drying process and preventing mold growth. You can also use fans or air conditioner units to keep the air moving within the affected area.

Once the flood cleanup is complete, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water. You should also wash all clothes that were worn during the flood cleanup in hot water and detergent. Wash these clothes separate from the rest of your laundry. However, before using your washing machine, have your onsite waste-water system professionally inspected and serviced.

For more cleaning tips from the professionals, visit our Resources page.

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