Cleaning Carpets and Floors After a Storm or Flood

Claudette Reichel  |  3/29/2005 11:27:58 PM

  • Pull up saturated carpets and rugs and drape them outdoors.
  • Hose down muddy carpets. Work a low-sudsing, disinfectant carpet-cleaning product deep into soiled spots with a broom.
  • If only small areas of carpet got wet from leaks, pull up and prop the wet carpet to dry. Cut away wet padding.
  • To discourage mildew and odors, rinse the backing with a solution of 2 tablespoons of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Don’t use this solution on wool carpets. Also disinfect the slab or subfloor.
  • Discard and replace foam pads.
  • Sections of subfloors that separate must be replaced to avoid buckling. When floor coverings are removed, allow subfloors to dry thoroughly, even though it may take several months. Disinfect all wet surfaces with a solution of 1 cup chlorine bleach in 1 gallon water.
  • In wood floors, remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling. Ask a carpenter for tips on removing tongue-and-groove boards.
  • Clean and dry floor thoroughly before attempting repairs.
  • For vinyl floors with wood subflooring, the floor covering should be removed so the subflooring can be replaced. With concrete floors, removal isn't necessary except to hasten drying of the slab.
  • Loose tiles may be replaced if the floor has not been soaked. If water has seeped under sheet flooring, remove the entire sheet.
  • While cleaning, wash exposed skin frequently in purified water. Wear rubber gloves for extra protection against contamination.
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