After a Flood: How to Clean and Disinfect
Video by Michaela Parker
Getting started on clean-up after a flood can seem overwhelming. Before you do any work, be sure you know what your insurance company needs to file a claim. Take photos and video of damage, inventory items damaged beyond repair, and keep track of expenses.
Once you’re ready to start cleaning, follow The Clean First, Then Disinfect Method.
Make sure you have on your protective gear. Learn what you need before you clean in our blog post about safety.
First, you want to remove any items that were wetted by the flood waters, including carpet, furniture, and clothing. Then, use a phosphate-free detergent and water to clean dirt and mud in the structure. Last, use a bleach solution or other recommended disinfectants to disinfect wall cavities and other surfaces.
Disinfecting walls and other surfaces helps remove the smell that often lingers after flood waters recede.
Bleach Solution Recipe for Cleaning Pathogens and Mold:
Mix ½ cup ultra chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water. Spray on contaminated or soiled surfaces and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Then rinse with clean water.
Note: Chlorine bleach should not be used on or near HVAC systems, metals, fine woods, or non-colorfast surfaces.
You can also use other disinfecting cleaners, but follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
One important note: all of the information we are sharing from MSU Extension and other sources was designed to address short-term, small-scale flooding. The unprecedented scope of the south Delta flooding may require different or additional methods of treatment. We encourage Mississippians to contact their MSU Extension office with questions that may arise. If we don’t know, we will work to find answers!
For more information about cleaning up after a flood, refer to the following resources:
- Extension Information Sheet 1716, “Disaster Relief: Safety Rules and Recovery Procedures after a Natural Disaster”
- Extension Information Sheet 1698, “Disaster Relief: Returning Home after a Disaster”
- Extension Information Sheet 1703, “Disaster Relief: Home Cleanup and Renovation for Walls”
- Find information about general flood recovery and precautions to take when returning to a flooded property on the eXtension website.
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s mold cleanup website
- The University of Minnesota Extension website: Cleaning Up After a Flood
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