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How to Clean Personal Items that Suffer Flood Damage

All cases of water damage are a cause for concern because of the harm the excess moisture can do. But the more water there is, the bigger problem it is. This is why floods can be devastating to your home or business.

When a property has flooded, the large volume of water will quickly cause damage to many items all at once. Porous building materials, like flooring and drywall, absorb the water, and appliances, furniture, HVAC and electrical systems, and your personal contents will be damaged as well. To make matters worse, the floodwater may contain dirt, sewage, and other contaminants that cause further harm.

If your home or business floods, immediate action is essential. Flood cleanup must be conducted promptly to give your property and personal items the best chance at being salvaged.

Continue reading to learn more about cleaning your flood-damaged items and what to do in the aftermath of a flood.

Contact Your Insurance Company

When your property has sustained flood damage, you need to get in touch with your insurance provider right away to inform them of the situation. The sooner you contact them, the sooner an adjuster will visit your home or business to evaluate the damage. As you wait for the adjuster’s arrival, there are numerous steps you can and should take to minimize the damage.

Be Safe

Immediate action might be essential for the flood damage restoration process, but your own health and safety is more important. Knowing this, do not act impulsively by heading into the affected area without proper protection. Cover up your limbs by wearing long clothing. Wear rubber gloves, boots, goggles, and a mask.

Before heading into the water, shut off the gas and power if you can do so safely. Otherwise, call your utility companies to ask if they can do it for you.

Document the Damage

As you make your way through the property, take time to document the damage. Record videos and take photographs of the flooding and damage it has caused. This will provide necessary evidence for your insurance company and help you keep track of the damage.

Prioritize Your Personal Belongings

Even with prompt action, there is still a chance that not all of your property and belongings can be salvaged. This can be especially so if the water involved has been contaminated by sewage and other toxins. Knowing this, prioritize which items to clean and save. Give priority to valuable items, whether they are valuable for monetary or sentimental reasons.

Air Dry Your Property

To help rid of excess moisture, do what you can to air out your property. If the weather permits, open windows to improve airflow. Otherwise use dehumidifiers, electric fans, and air conditioners to help dry the space and your contents. But only use these electrical appliances once the standing water is gone and it is safe to use electricity again.

Drying is a key step in the flood cleanup process because all of the excess moisture will not only continue to cause damage until it has been removed, but will also encourage mold growth. The sooner the moisture is eliminated, the less damage it causes.

Salvaging Photos and Paper Products

When handling wet photos and other delicate items, you need to be especially careful because they are even more fragile when wet. Air dry photos by hanging them up using plastic clothespins or by letting them lie on a paper towel. Do not allow the picture to make contact with other surfaces, because it can ruin the image.

If you cannot address the damage of photos and other similar items within 48 hours, freeze them to prevent further harm. The cold will stop ink running, dye transferring, and mold growth.

Cleaning Fabric-Based Items

Carpeting and Furnishings

Move all furniture and carpeting outside to be dried, cleaned, or thrown out. Generally speaking, affected rugs and carpets should just be replaced due to the contamination they may have suffered.

If you are going to try salvaging them, do a primary rinsing with clean water. Then, use carpet shampoo to thoroughly clean them. Rinse them another time using clean water. If colorfast, use a solution of 2 tablespoons household bleach and 1 gallon of water to rinse them.

Similarly, upholstered furnishings should be discarded due to contamination. To salvage them, upholstery and stuffing will need replacement.

Clothing and Other Linens

Dry clothing and linens outside, too. Once dry, clean these items using hot soapy water. If possible, use bleach as well to ensure a more thorough cleaning.

Cleaning Hard Surfaces and Items


Hard non-porous surfaces can be cleaned by scrubbing them with a heavy duty cleaner and hot water. Proceed by disinfecting the surface with a solution of 1 gallon of water and 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach or a germ-killing disinfectant.


Disinfecting metal utensils and other cooking and kitchen supplies is a simple process. Just place them in boiling water for 10 minutes. Other kitchenware, such as plastic containers and glass dinnerware, should be disinfected by immersing them into a solution of 1 gallon of water to 2 tablespoons chlorine bleach. Allow them to air dry afterward and do not wipe them down with a towel.

Professional Flood Damage Restoration in Boston, MA

If you need flood cleanup help for your home or business, then ServiceMaster Disaster Associates, Inc. can help. We provide flood and water damage restoration services in Boston, MA and the neighboring areas.

Within our flood and water damage restoration services, our professional technicians will provide complete flood cleanup work. We contain the water to prevent further damage, extract water and the excess moisture, and thoroughly dry the affected materials and areas. We then clean and restore the property to ensure it is safe to be in once again.

How to Clean Personal Items that Suffer Flood Damage was last modified: October 1st, 2020 by ServiceMaster Disaster Associates, Inc.