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Cleaning and Salvage

It is important to thoroughly wash and disinfect every part of your home that has been inundated by floodwaters.

General hygiene
  • Wash all surfaces that have been inundated to reduce the danger of flood related infections
  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water only until supplies have been declared safe by health authorities.
  • Discard medication that may be contaminated through contact with floodwater.
  • Discard all foods exposed to flood waters except those in sealed airtight cans
  • Use disinfectant when cleaning
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with a disinfectant soap after handling contaminated articles and before eating or drinking
  • Shower thoroughly after the clean-up and use antiseptic soaps
  • Disinfect any cuts quickly and cover with a waterproof dressing

Furniture Mattresses soaked with flood water are difficult to salvage and should be discarded
  • Place pieces of wood or aluminium foil under furniture with castors or metal caps to avoid staining carpets
  • Remove the backs of the furniture piece to let air circulate through it
  • Do not force open swollen doors, windows or drawers
  • Upholstered furniture is rarely recoverable and should be disposed of
  • Check all drawers and cupboards for valuable or sentimental personal contents before disposing
Floor coverings
  • If carpeting is left on the floor it is at risk of mould, decay, mildew and warping and removing carpets can cause shrinkage
  • If linoleum is broken, brittle and cannot be salvaged; remove it and be sure to let the underfloor thoroughly dry before laying any type of floor covering
  • Do not use any electricity until you have had the power supply reconnected and have appliances checked by a qualified licensed electrician
  • Ensure sewerage and drainage lines are safe before using dishwashers and washing machines
  • Clean and disinfect dishwashers, washing machines and dryers prior to use
  • Check and professionally clean refrigerators and freezers prior to use
  • Unplug all electrical appliances affected by water and have them inspected by a licensed electrical contractor before use
  • Do not operate electrical appliances or switches while standing in water or bare feet
  • Have a licensed electrical contractor check or isolate any parts of your electrical installation that have been affected by water – especially if the switchboard has been submerged or if your safety switch has tripped
  • Take extra care around your switchboard. If it’s outdoors, wear synthetic or rubber soled shoes. If you are in any doubt about your switchboard’s safety, stay clear and call your licensed electrical contractor.
  • Disinfect refrigerators, freezers and dishwashers after they have been checked by an electrician
  • Dispose of soft, porous plastic and wooden items that have been in contact with floodwater
  • Hand wash dishes and pots that have been in contact with floodwater using disinfectant
  • Air dry disinfected dishes, do not use a tea towel

Dealing with mould after a flood 

It may take several weeks, even longer in winter, to completely dry out your home. To avoid trapping moisture inside the home, everything that is wet and able to be moved should be taken outside to dry.

  • In dry weather, open all doors and windows
  • On wet days, leave windows partly open as the inside of the house will only dry when moisture can get out
  • If you have heaters, turn them on in as many rooms as possible and leave windows open, however do not use more than one heater per room as too much heat may warp and crack wood
  • Apply commercial grade cleaner
  • After cleaning surfaces, go over the entire room with disinfectant
  • Clean walls from the bottom up
  • If you have taped the windows, remove tape and use glass cleaner to remove adhesive
  • Look for trapped mud in less obvious places for example under shower trays, baths, benches, bottom shelves)
  • Hose or pump out mud or water, then dry as quickly as possible
  • Ignore any mould growing until drying is complete, then remove with household bleach, seek advice if you or your family suffer from asthma or respiratory diseases
  • It is important that wood and particle board dries quickly
  • To assist drying, cut back or remove plants obstructing vents
  • Remove foundation cladding such as baseboards or sheet materials for ventilation
  • Dig a drainage pit or pump out water that collects under or around your home
  • Where you cannot access water in walls or under floorboards, cut a trap door

For more information download, the Queensland Health Factsheet - dealing with mould after a storm, flood or cyclone.

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