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Cleaning up after a flood

Below you will find tips and resources for helping you clean up after a flood happens. For other steps to consider after a flood, including steps when returning home and making insurance claims, please visit After Flooding.

Guidelines to help you clean up after a flood

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. Thoroughly 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

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.

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 over 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), 250ml of bleach to 4.5 litres of water for disinfecting concrete.
  • 15ml 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

For more information about how you can protect yourself during cleanup, visit the Alberta Health Services website.

Please note: Raw sewage and/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.

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 nearest you.

Professional cleaners vs. do-it-yourself
For more comprehensive clean up information, consider calling professional cleaners. Most cleaning companies offer free estimates. Look under cleaners and water removal service in the Yellow Pages for professional assistance.

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 participating in flood clean-up activities, and after handling articles contaminated with flood water.

Please note: If you decide to clean up a flood on your own, without hiring a professional, proceed with caution. For more comprehensive information about protecting yourself during cleanup, visit Alberta Heath Services - Calgary.