Leaking roofs, bursting pipes, faulty appliances, and bad weather are only a few of the disasters that can cause water damage to your home. Unless the water is dealt with immediately, your home’s structure, flooring, walls, and molding can quickly become destroyed. Learning how to clean after your home has fallen victim to flooding is the first step to salvation.
How to clean after a flood
Water left standing breeds bacteria that can quickly multiply. Remove standing water with pumps or wet vacs. Once the water has been removed, you will need to air out your home. Reduce humidity inside the home with a de-humidifier or air conditioner. If you do not have these things, open all your windows. The goal is to reduce the moisture in the home to prevent the growth of bacteria.
If your home was naturally flooded, throw away items that came into contact with the flood water. Outside flood water from rivers or severe rainstorms can be contaminated and can cause health hazards. If you have items you cannot part with, it is imperative these items be thoroughly cleaned no longer than 48 hours after exposure.
This will be the time to cut away wet carpets and remove kick plates and baseboards. Leave microorganisms as few places to hide and grow as possible. If you are able to remove your carpets and molding successfully, you can place them outside to dry. If your water damage was extensive, you will need to remove any paneling or wallboards that got wet, cutting at least 12 inches beyond the water mark to prevent mold growth. Any wet insulation or ceiling materials will also need to be discarded.
You will now be ready to clean the walls, floors, ceilings, and general surface areas of your home. Disinfect all areas, including heating and air conditioning ducts if they were exposed to flood water. Keep in mind that both hidden and visible water damage will be throughout your home. Knowing where to look for hidden water damage is important to preventing additional problems.
Removing water odors from flooded homes
Although it is common to smell odor for weeks or even months after a flood, if you continue to smell odor from your water damage, this often means your home is breeding mold and other microorganisms in places you cannot see. Instead of using harsh chemicals, try a few of these natural alternatives to rid your home of nasty odors.
Open all doors and windows to generate air circulation. Ensure that mold and mildew are not present in places such as under sinks or around shower and tub areas. If you find mold, kill it with undiluted white vinegar. If your once-wet carpet is the culprit, work baking soda into your dried carpet and allow it to sit overnight. In the morning, vacuum. For stinky upholstery, fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray undiluted. The smell of vinegar will dissipate in a few hours while removing the musty odor trapped in your furniture. If you are able to wash your smelly water damaged items, throw them in the washer with 2 cups of white vinegar. Not only does vinegar remove odor, it also kills potential mold and bacteria growth.