Cleaning your home after a flood

Use these tips to keep yourself and your home safe when cleaning after a flood.

Utilities

Make sure your utilities are working and are safe by checking:

  • with your municipality and local utility providers to see if power, gas, water and sewage services are working
  • that drinking water is safe, and that no boil water orders are in place
  • if there is water above any electrical outlet in your home. If there is, leave until you have confirmed with your electricity supplier that the power is off

Get a certified technician to examine any flood-damaged utilities before you use them, including:

  • furnaces
  • water heaters
  • appliances
  • electrical equipment

Pumping floodwaters

Seek advice from your municipality about pumping floodwaters from your house, including where you should pump the floodwater and any other pumping restrictions.

Drain the water in stages, about one-third of the volume each day. If the ground is still saturated and water is removed too quickly, the walls or floors could buckle.

Do not use gas-powered pumps indoors, as they can emit deadly carbon monoxide. Do not use electric pumps, as they can lead to electrocution.

Safety equipment

Use appropriate safety equipment for all clean-up activities, including:

  • puncture-proof and water-proof boots
  • rubber gloves
  • sturdy work gloves for cleaning and removing flood-damaged items
  • a tool, such as a shovel, to dislodge or move any debris. Avoid using your hands to recover submerged items
  • face masks, including an N95 respirator mask, if cleaning in areas that could contain mould, asbestos or heavy dust
  • a first aid kit (including supplies to clean and cover any cut or wound before commencing clean-up)

Avoid touching contaminated gloves or items with bare skin.

Cleaning

Clean your basement first, kitchen second, then the rest of your house.

Be aware that any household chemicals or dangerous items stored in your house may be spilled or dislodged as a result of floodwaters. Use standard safety equipment meant for handling dangerous items during your post-flood clean up.

When cleaning up, be sure to remove:

  • wet floor coverings and soaked materials
  • wet furniture
  • walls that have been soaked through

Samples will be helpful when you apply for the Disaster Recovery Program

Clean

  • Thoroughly clean interior wall cavities using soap and water
  • Do NOT just clean up the affected wall surfaces

Sanitize

  • Thoroughly sanitize all surfaces, including ceilings, using a mild bleach solution (1 tablespoon of bleach to 4 litres of water)

Wash

  • wash your hands and any exposed skin regularly with soap and warm water while cleaning your space
  • bathe or shower after you finish any cleaning activities
  • wash contaminated laundry items separate from non-contaminated items
  • wash the clothes you wear for clean-up activities after every wear

Resources

Cleaning the house after a flood

Disinfecting private water supplies

Cistern cleaning