10 Essential Products for Cleaning Your Home After a Flood
When a home is damaged by flood waters, it's a race against the clock to rid the space of debris and contaminated water, and restore it to rights. These products will make the job easier.
Whether the home takes on just a few inches of water or the entire basement is full, floods aren’t fun to deal with and the repercussions of these unfortunate events often lead to high cleanup, disposal, and repair fees. However, there are products that you have on hand or can get shortly after flooding to help remove water, tear out damaged drywall and carpets, or even record the damage so that you have photos for the insurance company. Keep reading to find out about these 10 products that every homeowner should have on hand to deal with flooding.
1. Waterproof Boots
Before walking into a flooded area, one of the most important things to consider is the possible danger of the situation, including chemical contamination, biological contamination, and even electricity that might be flowing through the water from a submerged outlet or the electrical panel.
Call an electrician to shut down the electricity to the home and grab a pair of insulated waterproof boots to ensure that you stay safe. A mask, gloves, and safety glasses also help you to stay safe, just make sure that the water doesn’t spill over into your boots. If it does, remove them and do your best to clean your legs and feet to remove any chemical or biological contamination.
You can’t start the process of rebuilding until the home is no longer flooded, which is why having a few buckets readily available is never a bad idea. Use buckets, mops, and towels to clean up as much water as possible. While this method of water removal isn’t as efficient as using a pump or even a wet/dry vac, it is something that just about everyone can help with instead of simply watching one person work. After removing the water, you also can use the buckets to help gather and remove dirt, silt, drywall, carpet, and other debris that needs to be cleaned up.
3. Pry Bar
Unfortunately, when a flood occurs there can be a lot of water damage that will result in further issues, like mold growth, if the damaged material isn’t removed. Use a pry bar to quickly peel drywall from the walls and pull up carpet and hardwood from the floor. This simple tool works well on standard building materials and it only gets easier to use the more damaged the walls and floors.
Just keep in mind that you should store the damaged materials somewhere safe outside in a shed or in a garage until the insurance agent can get out to the home. This is just in case they need some type of proof beyond pictures about the extent of the damage.
4. Contractor Bags
Paired with a durable pry bar, contractor bags are essential for cleaning up after a flood. Carpets, drywall, hardwood, insulation, dirt, mud, and even some furniture need to be removed from the home; otherwise, the moisture can lead to severe mold growth. Additionally, this wet environment makes a great place for insects and some rodents to nest, so the sooner the debris is removed from the home, the better it is for cleanup and repair. Make sure to invest in thick, durable contractor bags that won’t pierce easily.
Most homeowners have a shovel they use for light gardening, or even snow and ice removal. Those shovels are incredibly useful tools to help move a large amount of a substance, like mud, which can come in through the sides of a home and build up within the basement during a flood. Shovels can help get rid of this mud quickly and they can also be used to shovel water into an available bucket or even into a waterproof trash can for disposal.
After removing most of the water from the home, you will need to use a dehumidifier to pull the water out of the air and any carpets that managed to survive the flood. These devices are commonly light-duty models that are great for reducing humidity in the home or office. Yet what you really need to help deal with a flood is a commercial dehumidifier that can be connected to a hose and drain the water as it’s collected. The dehumidifier will usually need to remain in the affected area for up to 2 weeks, depending on the extent of the flooding and the type of dehumidifier.
The air inside an enclosed area that has been subjected to flooding can quickly become contaminated with mold and mildew, but chemicals from products in the home, like paint or oil, can also seep out into the water and become airborne. Fans help reduce this risk by moving the standing air out through the nearest window or door. They are also excellent for drying furniture and the entire flooded space. Use fans with dehumidifiers for about 2 weeks for the best drying results.
8. Wet/Dry Shop Vac
Take some of the strain out of flood cleanup by investing in a wet/dry shop vac that can quickly suction the water off the ground and into an enclosed collection chamber for disposal. While these vacuums can work in place of buckets for broad water cleanup, they are actually better suited for salvaging furniture, clothing, rugs, carpets, and other fabrics that were soaked in the flood. Simply use the wet/dry shop vac to pull excess water out of these materials before setting them aside or hanging them up to dry. Our researched guide to wet/dry vacuums for your home or workspace lists a number of terrific shop vac options.
9. Mold Treatment
Even after the home looks clean and dry, there could be lingering issues under carpets, behind walls, and even in insulation; this can lead to mold and mildew problems. Help ensure that the flooded area won’t become infested with mold, mildew, and other biological hazards by cleaning the entire area with a powerful household cleaner like bleach. After cleaning, apply a mold-inhibiting treatment to further reduce the risk of mold growth.
Never rely on your word when it comes to flood damage. Your initial impression can change over the entirety of the experience, or you can miss and forget things, all of which are very human errors that can lead to complications with the insurance company. Phones can also get damaged and might not provide reliable photos, so invest in a camera that you can keep in a flood-safe location within the home. This device should be dedicated to taking emergency photos in case of flooding, fires, or even environmental damage, like a tree falling on the home.
The prices listed here are accurate as of publication on October 29, 2021.