Best Practices for Flood Cleanup: A Complete How-To

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Updated on:

August 1, 2023

Flood Cleanup 101: Essential Steps and Best Practices

Flood water is not only dangerous to your wood floors, but it is also dangerous your health. The first priority is always your safety. Flood damaged homes need a lot of care, including cleaning wet floors and water damage cleanup.

90 percent of US natural disasters involve some type of flooding and even a little bit of flood water can cause damages of $25,000.

Key Takeaways:

  • Flood water poses structural and health risks; prompt cleanup is essential.
  • Steps: evacuate, remove soaked items, use proper cleaning products, and tools like wet/dry vacuums and steam cleaners.
  • Specific tips for flooded basements: turn off electricity, use gas-powered pumps, identify the source, remove wet items.

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The Destruction of Water Causes

Wall coverings - these materials can become fragile if a flood comes, acting like a sponge and keeping all the water soaked in until it dries out. Even after they dry out, the areas might remain contaminated.

Insulation - Insulation foam sheets only need to be rinsed with water and dried; however, muddy fiberglass batts should be discarded. Removing and replacing the blown-in treated paper cellulose insulation will be necessary.

Solid wood - Furniture made from solid wood blocks can crack during a flood cleanup, but it is possible to save them when they dry up

drainage of flooded water

Remove items soaked by floodwaters or sewage promptly

If your house gets flooded, it is crucial to evacuate the area and remove debris that might have accumulated from the standing water as soon as you can.

Cleaning and disinfecting products for flood water damage

Portable generators

With flooding, your electricity might be cut off from all the water damage. Investing in portable generators for your home will help you

Why is steam cleaning effective?

The steam cleaning process is able to prevent mold growth by disinfecting the structural damage and providing professional cleaning without paying thousands of dollars to a cleaning company.

fortador volt mini steamer

Fortador Steam Cleaner

The Fortador steam cleaning line is full of professional grade equipment, no matter what machine you decide to get in order to help you clean hard surfaces.

For easy home use, we recommend the Fortador Volt Mini. It is ideal for cleaning and disinfecting homes, offices, and even cars. Steaming's greatest advantage against professional cleaning supplies is its ability to kill more than 99 percent of bacteria, viruses, and germs.


At 7 Bar/100 psi steam pressure, this machine will help prevent any possible allergic reactions formed by mold growth in your house.


This model of the steamer is very easy to move around, weighing only 16.5lbs. Like other models from the Fortador line, the Volt Mini's boiler will heat up in 5 minutes and be ready to use.


This steam cleaner comes with a steam mop that will be of help when cleaning the floors of your house. The hose is 15ft, which is longer than most of other models on the market. The variety of heads for your hose that come with your steam cleaning will help you target all types of flood damage, anywhere in your home

Shop vac

You are going to need a vacuum that is going to be able to remove debris that is wet and dry. Shop Vac is known for their vacuum, but you can always for a household vacuum that will have wet function.

Wear protective gear and boots

Steps for flood cleanup process

Use a moisture meter to identify wet walls

You can easily measure wet walls with a quick search. When you do not own meters make sure you keep some good quality items in your home. Eliminate all that's not true. The moisture measurement device helps determine if a wall has a dry enough temperature to reinsulate or close. Water metering can be purchased in building supplies and in homes by the home inspector. These may be found online.

File insurance claims prior to flood cleanup

Call your insurance company to file a claim and take photos of the damages; keep the damaged furniture for proof of loss. Find the source of the flood water bad and decide on the best plan of action

  1. the Federal emergency management agency provides tax-free assistance and grants that do not need to be repaid for disaster related expenses, so be sure to keep your receipts for reimbursement
  2. Make sure to keep all your important documents like passports and certificates ina dry place
  3. Check for gas leaks
  4. To avoid electrical shock, shut off power from electrical equipment

Wear protective gear prior to flood damage cleanup

Wear rubber boots and protective gear before starting the flood cleanup

flooded items throw up

Water damaged items should be put in plastic bags to clean or dispose of

Throw out any flood damaged items and thoroughly clean household items and floors with hot water or steam clean

0 Use warm water to wash drapes, bedding, and other items. Bleach them to make sure all the bacteria is gone, dry and iron them to make sure the heat kills any last of the mold growth that might have started

Get a wet/dry vacuum to drain the standing water

Using a household vacuum, remove standing water to prevent structural damage on the wood floors of your home.

  • When you remove water, do not try to drain too quickly. Rapid changes in the pressure can make the foundation collapse
  • Shop vac is wet/dry vacuum that will help you continuously pump out water and save time from having to empty it

Dilute bleach with water to clean the floors

  1. If you decide to cleaning with bleach, do not forget to have enough fresh air in the room to avoid breathing
  2. Do not mix bleach with other cleaning products like ammonia, as it can release poisonous gases that you should not breathe
  3. mix one ounce of bleach for every 4 gallons of water
If you have hardwood floors, learn more about cleaning.

Drying the home after the flood cleanup

To expedite the drying process, run the dehumidifiers and fans

  • Do not run the ceiling fans if you have sagging ceilings from the flooding
  • Opend doors and windows if weather permits

Health hazards from flood waters

Flood waters can contains sewage. When eating or drinking anything contaminated by floodwater, it can cause diarrheal disease. Additionally, respiratory infections are prevalent with mold spores

flooded basement

Flooded basement

If your basement is full of flood water, do not try to walk into the room and collect the water. Your extensions cords and wires may be compromised and the water can end up being electrified. Your insurance company should cover the water damage in your basements if it is caused by accidental damages like burst pipes and sudden leaks. However, water damage from flooding most likely will not be covered.

If you have a separate flood policy insurance, file a claim for flood damages and do these things withing the first 24 hours after a flood to save your basement from total repair:

Turn off electicity

If you are not sure how to or where the breakers are, contact a licensed electrician to disconnet power. Stock up on battery operated flashlights and lamps to help you move in the dark.

Get a gas powered pump

Industrial rental groups will have pumps and hoses that will help you repair flooded basement

Beging to suck up the standing water

Find the source of flooding

When the majority of the water is out of the basement, you need to understand how the flooding happened. Check to see if the sump pump stopped working.

Be sure to check these:

  • walls
  • windows
  • floor cracks
  • floor drain
  • sinks
  • toilers
  • showers
  • pipes or hoses

Remove wet items

Remove any items that have been soaked by the flooding out of your basement. It might even include the flooring. Carpets, padding and other flooring should be stripped if they look beyond repair. If the water has gone through your flooring, it may harbor mold quickly and may cause serious health hazards to your family.

Use wet/dry vacuum to remove the rest of the water

Make sure the vacuum you are using it strong enough to remove standing water with ease. Use it to clean up the rest of puddles that might remain. Use a squeegee to move the water toward the floor drains and pumps.

Get a good air flow

After the water has been cleaned up, the humidity needs to be removed out of the basement. If needed, rent fans to dry out the rest of the space.

using dehumidifier after flood

Turn on the dehumidifier

Making sure the moist air is out of your basement is the next big step every basement owner needs to take to bring back the space to be usable. Having a hose to help you drain will definitely speed up the process


Flood damage is a big issue and you need to react as fast as possible, using right equipment and technics you can savely remove all damage and restore your house to brand new look.

About the Authors

Koren Zitser
Vip Air, Panama: 20+ years in global AC excellence. Partners with industry leaders, offers split to large-scale systems, specializing in VRF, Multi V, maintenance, and innovation.
Sabrina Tretyakova
In the world of cleanliness and hygiene, Sabrina Tretyakova stands as a beacon of expertise and dedication. As an ISSA-certified cleaning technician, Sabrina brings a wealth of knowledge and three years of unwavering commitment to her profession. Having served a staggering 1,200 clients

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