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Cleaning Up After a Flood

In situations of flood damage a significant cleanup may be necessary. If water damage is extensive or if mould problems develop professional assistance should be obtained.

In situations of minimal flood damage with no indication of sewage contamination follow these cleaning directions:

  1. Remove all water, mud and other debris
  2. Dispose of contaminated household goods
  3. Rinse away contamination inside the home
  4. Clean and dry out your house and salvageable possessions.

Household items that have been contaminated by sewage, or that have been wet for a long time, will have to be bagged, tagged and discarded according to local regulations/requirements.

Assemble equipment and supplies such as:

  • Gloves, masks (N95 respirators) and other protective gear.
  • Pails, mops, squeegees and plastic garbage bags.
  • Unscented detergent.
  • Large containers for wet bedding and clothing, and lines for drying.
  • You may also need to acquire extension cords, submersible pumps, wet/dry shop vacuums, and dehumidifiers or heaters.

Remove standing water with pumps or pails, then with a wet/dry shop vacuum. Remove all soaked and dirty materials and debris, including wet insulation and drywall, residual mud and soil, furniture, appliances, clothing and bedding. Hose down any dirt sticking to walls and furnishings, then rinse several times, removing the remaining water with a wet/dry shop vacuum. Rinse, and then clean all floors as quickly as possible. Flooring that has been deeply penetrated by flood water or sewage should be discarded.

Steps in removal of damaged/contaminated materials (may require qualified professionals):

  1. Work from the top down.
  2. Break out all ceilings and walls that have been soaked or that have absorbed water.
  3. Remove materials at least 500 mm (20 in.) above the high-water line.
  4. Gypsum board walls that have been exposed to high humidity or standing water for a prolonged period of time should be removed in their entirety and discarded.
  5. Ceiling tiles and panelling should be treated like drywall.

Cleaning Procedures:

  • Wash and wipe/scrub down all affected or flooded surfaces with unscented detergent and water.
  • Concrete surfaces can be cleaned with a solution of TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) in water. When using TSP, which is highly corrosive, wear gloves and eye protection.
  • Surfaces that are dry and/or have not been directly affected by the flood water should be vacuumed with a HEPA vacuum cleaner.
  • Washable surfaces can be washed with unscented detergent and water.
  • Surface mould on wood can be removed with a vacuum-sander. Wood that looks mouldy, after sanding, may need to be replaced.
  • Carpets must be dried within two days. Sewage-soaked carpets must be discarded.

Ensure that all interior building cavities and structural members (i.e. support beams) are completely dry (which could take weeks) before closing cavities.


After cleaning the surfaces, ventilate or dehumidify the house until it is completely dry. Rapid drying is important to prevent mould growth. When the outside weather permits open doors and windows which will hasten the drying process with fans.

  • Mould can grow in areas that remain wet for greater than 48 hours.  The paper backing on drywall is an excellent growth medium for mould if it cannot be dried within 48 hours it should be removed and sealed in plastic bags inside the containment area.  Carpets and upholstery can be dried with water extraction vacuums.  Dehumidifiers, fans and heaters are recommended to accelerate the drying process.  Mould remediation chart can be found here (PDF).

For more detail see: