6 Essential Tips for Restoring a Flood-Damaged Home

Alison Kasch
Written by Alison Kasch
Updated November 10, 2021
Designed home interior
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Flood damage cleanup can seem overwhelming, but these tips will help you rebuild

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No matter how much you prepare for a flood, the outcome can be devastating. A flooded home leaves you with a mess to clean up before you can repair or rebuild. But there are some essential flood cleanup steps that can help minimize damage. These tips will help get your home back the way it was before disaster struck.

1. Shut Off the Power

Safety first: Begin the flood damage cleanup process by ensuring the power is off. If your circuit breaker box is in a waterlogged area, call a local emergency electrician or the power company to shut it off.

2. Pump Out the Water

Flooded bathroom
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If you’re going the DIY route, or if you’re still waiting for help from the professionals, focus on removing the excess water from your home. Use a wet-dry shop vacuum, electric water transfer pump, or sump pump to remove standing water. Don a pair of rubber boots if you have to stand in a wet area.

3. Dry Off Your Home

Once most of the water is out, start the drying process. Open all doors and windows. Set up fans to maximize the airflow in your home. If your vents got exposed to floodwater, wait to turn your HVAC unit back on until you have the ducts inspected and cleaned by a local HVAC technician.

4. Follow These Water Damage Cleanup Tips for Your Floors

Person cleaning tile floor after flooding
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Dealing with flooded floors calls for elbow grease and, unfortunately, in many cases, sacrifice. While cleaning your carpet after a flood is sometimes possible, anything that’s been underwater for more than 24 hours or exposed to toxic materials has to get the boot. Carpeting is like a sponge, and mold and mildew are no joke—when in doubt, throw it out.

As for your tile flooring, scrub out any dirt and grime with soapy water. Follow this by sanitizing the floor with 1 cup of chlorine bleach diluted in 1 gallon of water. Dry-mop the floor to absorb any remaining water.

5. Dispose of Anything You Can’t Salvage

Perhaps the most difficult part of the water damage cleanup process is disposing of any belongings that aren’t salvageable. Anything sanitary, absorbent, or made of paper will have to go, sadly. 

This includes:

  • Mattresses

  • Pillows

  • Upholstered furniture

  • Stuffed animals

  • Rugs

  • Books

As with the carpeting, throw it out if you’re in doubt. Mold and mildew are hazardous for your family’s health, and most items are replaceable. Even if they’re not, you will get through this. Focus on rebuilding your collection in the years to come.

6. Remove Mold and Mildew After Flood Damage Cleanup

If the mold spread is greater than 10 square feet, hire a mold removal company to remove it safely. For smaller spreads, it’s possible to clean the growth on your own—though you should always contact the pros if you’re not comfortable handling it. 

To prevent or remove mold, follow these important tips:

  • Wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, goggles, and an N-95 mask

  • Clean hard surfaces with hot water and laundry or dish detergent

  • Disinfect with a thin coat of 10-percent bleach solution over the entire area (one cup of bleach with one gallon of water)

  • Use a sprayer or sponge to disperse the bleach solution, but avoid excessive amounts of runoff or standing pools

  • Never mix bleach and ammonia—the mixture creates a deadly, toxic gas

  • Keep children and pets out of the flooded area until you’re done cleaning up

  • Wash clothes contaminated with floodwater in hot water and detergent

  • Dry thoroughly afterward

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