Cleaning and disinfecting key to flood recovery
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2013
Rockford, Ill. --The recent rains
have created flash flood conditions across the region. In addition to flooded
roads and fields, many residents have experienced flooding inside their homes. In
many cases, water has intruded into basements in limited areas rather than several
inches across the whole basement. These smaller areas require the same thorough
cleaning and disinfecting to recover after a flood.
Receding floodwaters and infiltrated
water may contain sewage and other contaminants, including pathogens that are
harmful to people, according to Stanley Solomon, University of Illinois
Extension educator, energy and environmental stewardship, serving the Jo Daviess-Stephenson-Winnebago
Mold is the long term concern from
the flood damage. Mold can start growing on wet materials in 24 to 48
hours. Thus, it is important to get all
materials dried as quickly as possible that were exposed to moisture.
Safety is the most important
starting point. Avoid mixing electricity and water! Don't enter areas where
electrical equipment or outlets may be exposed to the standing water. Using
personal protective equipment is critical for anyone cleaning after a flood.
Solomon recommends rubber gloves,
eye protection and clothes that can be immediately laundered (or a protective
suit) as a minimum. A proper fitting N-95, N-100 or HEPA-rated respirator/mask
is recommend, especially if there is any indication of mold or if there have
been overland floodwaters in the home from swollen streams and rivers.
Various water-soaked materials
require different treatment plans:
- Remove porous materials such as drywall, carpet and
carpet pad that are wet or have indications of mold growth.
- Highly-absorbent porous materials such as carpet
padding, drywall, insulation, and furniture stuffing should be discarded
in most cases. These usually cannot
be dried quickly enough to prevent mold growth and difficult to adequately
- Nonporous materials such as glass, hard plastic, metal,
and counter tops can be cleaned with normal cleaning methods. A biocide such as chlorine bleach is not
- Semiporous materials such as structural wood should be
exposed to air for drying as quickly as possible. Remove mold from these
surfaces by scrubbing or more aggressive methods such as sanding.
- Semiporous materials such as flooring and counter underlayment
may need to be removed to insure the structural elements can be properly
dried. For example, vinyl flooring could
be cleaned, but may need to be removed to dry or replace the subflooring.
Clean most surfaces with a non-ammonia
soap or detergent. After cleaning semiporous materials, disinfect the area
using bleach and water solution or another disinfectant. For cleaning surfaces,
a mixture of one-fourths cup of bleach with one gallon of water should be
adequate. The surfaces should remain wet
for about 15 minutes to allow for disinfection. A higher concentration of 1 Â½
cups of bleach per gallon is recommended for wood and concrete surfaces that
cannot be thoroughly cleaned.
Do not mix ammonia and bleachÂ--the
fumes are toxic! Finally, rinse the area
with clean water and dry rapidly. Use fans, dehumidifiers or ventilation to
move the moisture from the area.
This is a brief overview of the
steps for recovering from the recent flooding.
Another important step for many is to evaluate the source of the water
intrusion. Can it be fixed to prevent this from happening again?
For additional resources and
information, visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/jsw
or call the U of I Extension office in your county. (Jo Daviess 815-858-2273,
Stephenson 815-235-4125, Winnebago 815-986-4357)
Visit www.homemoisture.org for a national database
that was created by Dr. Kenneth Hellevang, North Dakota State University (NDSU)
Extension, and drawn upon as a resource. NDSU has additional flood recovery
information at www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood .
Source: Stanley (Jay) Solomon, Extension Educator, Energy and Environmental Stewardship, firstname.lastname@example.org