Whether we like it or not, natural disasters are something that Americans have to deal with. According to a recent study, 41 million Americans live in flood zones. Flood losses have increased exponentially over the last 30 years with an average of $96 billion per year in damage from 1985-2014.
In the wake of major hurricanes like Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Harvey, it’s important to learn what to do should your house flood or even if your basement floods. With that in mind, here are five helpful tips on how to clean your house should it flood.
- Check Everything Out: Before you get to cleaning, it’s important to know the extent of the damage. There will be some cleaning you can do yourself, but keep in mind that any severe damage is likely going to require professional house cleaners from a cleaning service. Check to make sure nothing is contaminated and that there aren’t any water spots in the ceiling.
- Get To Cleaning: Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly (within 24 to 48 hours) after a flood to prevent mold growth. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 100 percent of all types of mold have the potential to cause some health effects. This can be minor to severe and death may even occur in some cases.
In any case, clean fast. Remove an organic items such as bedding, towels and upholstery that may have been damaged. If they don’t dry within 48 hours, throw them out because they’ll start to mold otherwise. The longer your belongings remain wet, the more chance you have for mildew and mold forming. Get fans and dehumidifiers going to get air circulating and to get things dry.
- Clean the carpet: Dirty carpets are known to hold eight times their weight in bacteria and dirt. This can lead to respiratory issues and allergy problems if not addressed. For kids and pets who come into contact with carpet often, their threat of exposure to toxins increases.
How wet your carpet is will determine your course of action. Completely damaged carpet should either be disposed of or sent to carpet cleaning services. This will likely be the case if you’ve got installed carpeting with padding underneath. If only part of the carpet is wet, a wet-dry vacuum can help remove water. After that, a carpet cleaning or a steam cleaning can help treat the carpet as well. In general, it’s recommended to have carpet cleaned professionally at least once a year to extend the life of the carpet.
- Deal With Furniture: To clean wet or slightly damaged wood furniture, take it outside and remove all drawers and doors. Dirty furniture can be cleaned with soap and water. Kind in mind though that to get clean upholstery, you’ll likely have to have upholstered furniture cleaned.
Bisaillon recommends upholstery cleaning by a certified technician every year to two years and more frequently in homes with small children or pets. If your upholstered furniture isn’t damaged, there are many ways to get clean upholstery:
- Use an upholstery attachment on a vacuum and use short, overlapping strokes. If your upholstery is a more delicate fabric, turn the suction down.
- Another way to get clean upholstery is to use carpet cleaner or rug cleaner for quick spot removal.
- A third way to get clean upholstery is to dip an upholstery brush in small bucket of sudsy dish soap. Lightly cover the entire upholstery in the dish soap, wipe it down with a damp cloth. Let it dry and you should be good to go.
- Check Appliances and The Fridge: Check common appliances like coffee makers and TVs for any fraying wires. For bigger items like refrigerators, a service company will be able to check its safety and whether or not it’s working properly. When it comes to the fridge, open it up and trash any perishables right away. Freezer items are good for about 48 hours.
Cleaning up after a flood can be a long, stressful process, but cleaning fast and cleaning correctly can help salvage your furniture and other belongings.