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Cleaning up after a flood

Professional cleaners vs. do-it-yourself

For in-depth clean-up information and advice, consider calling professional cleaners.

Most cleaning companies offer free estimates. Look under Cleaners and Water Removal Service in the Yellow Pages for professional help.

What to wear when cleaning

  • Wear coveralls, rubber boots, gloves, and a protective face mask (a respirator) to prevent inhalation of fine water droplets and dust.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and properly treated water before preparing or eating food, after toilet use, after flood clean-up activities, and after handling items contaminated with flood water.
  • For more details about how to protect yourself during clean-up, visit the Alberta Health Services.

STEP 1: Gather the necessary cleaning supplies

You will need the following items:

  • Brooms
  • Mops
  • Buckets
  • Hose
  • Rubber
  • Gloves
  • Rags
  • Cleaning products
  • Brushes
  • Sponges
  • Disinfectants
  • Trash bags

STEP 2: Sort damaged items to be repaired or discarded

Things you might throw away include:

  • Bedding
  • Clothing
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Rugs
  • Carpets
  • Carpet padding
  • Books

Always throw away food. The only safe flood-exposed foods are those sealed in metal cans, and they are safe only if the cans have not been dented. Clean and disinfect all undamaged cans before opening.

Always throw away these flood-exposed items:

  • Cosmetics
  • Medicines and medical supplies
  • Stuffed animals and toys
  • Rugs
  • Mattresses
  • Pillows
  • Cardboard
  • Household chemicals

STEP 3: Clean up one room at a time

Use a two-bucket approach: One bucket for cleaning solution and the other for rinse water.

Clean each room twice: Go over each room again with a disinfectant to kill germs.

You may also need to remove mildew. In case of heavy contamination, spray all surfaces with disinfectant.

Some ideas for cleaning and disinfection solutions:

Suitable cleaners:

  • Dishwashing liquid for lightly soiled items.
  • Laundry detergent for heavily soiled items.

Suitable disinfectants:

  • Household chlorine liquid bleach (5.25 per cent), 250 ml of bleach to 4.5 litres of water for disinfecting concrete.
  • 15 ml of bleach to one litre of water for disinfecting wood and other materials.
  • Important: Do not mix bleach with other household chemical products, especially ammonia or toilet bowl cleaner. The chemical reaction may create a poisonous gas.

STEP 4: Dry out your home and remove mildew by lowering the humidity

  • Open doors and windows to air out your home
  • Open closets and cabinet doors
  • Circulate air with fans
  • Run a dehumidifier

Disposing of waste

For more information about how to dispose of any of the items above, call 311 or see where to dispose of household hazardous waste items.

To dispose of prohibited materials, such as paint, motor oil and other chemicals, please call 311 or visit the Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off program for a drop-off location near you.

Raw sewage or other wastewater that includes soaps, detergents and hydrocarbons are prohibited materials and are not allowed on any portion of a street or discharged into the storm drainage collection system.