Tips for dealing with flood clean-up - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Tips for dealing with flood clean-up

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Many in Eastern Iowa are now dealing with the aftermath of the devastating flooding. Buchanan County ISU Extension and Outreach has the following advice and helpful tips on clean up after flooding. 

Caring for Large Electrical Appliances

Appliances wet by flood water will need extreme care before reuse. This care will be important if the life of the appliance is to be extended and for the safety of the user. Appliances submerged by floodwaters are often not repairable. It is always desirable to have these repairs made by a reputable service person. Following disasters, however, individuals who have these skills often are very busy, and the owner of the appliance may find it necessary to make repairs.

Remember that an appliance damaged by water can sometimes be made functional, but will probably have a shortened life expectancy. Depending on the age and condition of the appliance before it was damaged by water, and considering the danger of personal injury from improper repairs, it may be advisable to replace the appliance rather than repair it. Many small appliances, including television sets, microwave ovens and radios, are more electronic than electrical. Most small appliances or electronic devices are not economical to repair.

Salvaging and Cleaning Furniture

Before starting to salvage damaged furniture, decide which pieces are worth restoring. Such decisions should be based on: extent of damage, cost of the article, sentimental value, cost of restoration and quality of the wood or fabric. Consider each piece individually.

In general, you will not need to repair all pieces immediately. Any furniture worthy of repair should be completely cleaned, dried and stored in a dry, shady, well-ventilated place until you have time to repair it.

Antiques are probably worth the time, effort and expense of restoration. Unless damage is severe, you can probably clean, reglue and refinish antiques at home. Extensive repair or re-veneering work should be done at a reliable furniture repair shop.

Solid wood furniture can usually be restored unless damage is severe. You will probably need to clean, dry and reglue it. Do not throw away solid wood furniture until it has dried and repair efforts can be assessed. Slightly warped boards may be removed and straightened or replaced.

Wood veneered furniture is usually not worth the cost and effort of repair, unless it is very valuable monetarily or sentimentally. If veneer is loose in just a few places, you may be able to repair it. Veneered furniture repairs are usually best done by a reliable refinisher.

Wet upholstered furniture may be salvageable, depending on its general condition. Flooded pieces will require replacement of padding and upholstery. Since this is an expensive process, it might be wiser to apply the money toward a new piece of furniture.

Cleaning Carpets and Floors

Cleaning water-soaked carpets and floors is difficult in itself, but in the aftermath of a storm or flood, contamination by mud, silt, sewage and mildew can compound the problem. It’s best to replace carpets and get professional cleaners to work on floors, but this may not be possible. In any case, begin cleanup as soon as possible.

Helpful Tips

• Pull up all saturated carpets and rugs, and take them outdoors.

• If you wish to salvage valuable rugs and water was not contaminated, hose muddy carpets down. 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 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.

• 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 floors thoroughly before attempting repairs. Using a dehumidifier will speed the drying process.

• In 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.

Cleaning Storm Soaked Clothing

When cleaning clothes soaked during storm flooding, remember that the flood water may have been contaminated with sewage waste. Simply drying these clothes is not enough. For safety, they must be disinfected to kill harmful bacteria.

Two tablespoons of liquid chlorine bleach per washer load will kill bacteria without substantially damaging clothes. Do not use more than 2 tablespoons per washer load unless all the clothes can be safely bleached. Dry cleaning is also effective. Do not use bleach on wool, silk, feathers and foam.

Helpful Tips

• Separate wet items as soon as possible to keep clothing colors from running together. Sort out clothing that should be dry-cleaned. Do not mix flood-soiled clothes with clean clothes. Take care not to contaminate work surfaces.

• Items to be dry-cleaned should be air-dried and taken to a cleaner as soon as possible. (If you suspect they may have been in sewage-contaminated water, wear plastic gloves.) Do not dry the clothes near a heat source such as a stove. Once dry, shake and brush clothing outdoors to remove as much soil as possible.

• Rinse washable items several times in cold water. If badly soiled, soak overnight in cold water and an enzyme product or detergent. Wring out and air dry if you’re unable to machine wash.

• Machine wash clothes as soon as possible. Use a heavy duty detergent and a disinfectant such as 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach, pine oil or a phenolic disinfectant. Use the highest water level possible, don’t overcrowd the washer and use the hottest water temperature suitable for the garments. Select the longest wash cycle available. Dry in a dryer (if available) at the highest temperature suitable for the fabric.

• Stained or very dirty clothes may require adding an appropriate bleach to the wash. Follow directions on the bleach containers and garment tags for types and amounts to use.

• If an item is still stained after washing, rewash before drying. Drying may make some stains harder to remove.

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