Floods are a common cause of disasters in many parts of the world, including the United States. Flooding can be devastating, with its full consequences often not becoming apparent until some time has passed. Items that survived the flood may succumb to rot and mold even after they dry out, and they can then contaminate other items in your house. Here are a few tips on how to prevent mold after a flood and help minimize post-flood damage.
How to Prevent Mold After a Flood - Top Things to Remember
The cleanup process after flooding from a hurricane or other unfortunate disaster has receded can be like a field medic doing triage. You'll find yourself dealing with household items that fall more or less into three categories. These are items that can be kept after drying and cleaning, items that need to be disposed of, and items that may be okay but could also pose a mold risk.
- Items that should be disposed of.
Anything porous that was immersed in floodwaters will likely harbor mold spores and should be disposed of.
Soaked clothes and anything else made of cloth that got wet will need to be disposed of as they will likely be ruined anyway and will probably be riddled with mold spores and other contaminants.
Organic materials such as wood will probably need replacing if they were underwater, depending on how long they were submerged. If replacing them is not an option for you, you can always clean and dry the water damaged wood flooring.
Rugs and carpets will likely be a mold risk even if they were not submerged. The fibrous nature of these items means that they have a huge amount of surface area for mold spores to hide in, and humidity likely guaranteed that they were wet enough to encourage mold growth. Therefore, it is very important to properly dry out the padded carpet.
- Items that can be cleaned and kept.
Metal, plastic, and ceramic cutlery and crockery can usually be cleaned up and reused.
Non-porous metal and plastic furniture can be kept after cleaning. You will probably need to replace any cushions and upholstery on the furniture, as these will be a prime spot for mold spores to hide.
Any wooden items which were above the waterline and which have paint or varnish protecting their surface may be able to be cleaned and reused. Inspect them to see if there are any mold or wet areas in the wood and use your best judgment.
Wooden items with exposed wood may be a mold risk, even if they were above the water. Whether you replace them will depend on the severity of the flooding.
- Safety measures to take when cleaning up.
Mold spores are more than just a risk for your household items. They can also be a health risk when breathed in. The flooding may have also introduced and released other contaminants which you will need to be cautious of when cleaning up.
Wear gloves during the cleanup process. This will protect your hands from abrasions and contaminants and may help stop cross-contamination of mold spores. Consider soaking gloves in a mold killing solution to keep them from cross-contaminating.
Wear breathing protection, such as a breathing mask. This will need to be capable of filtering fine mold spores.
Ensure the areas you are working in have good ventilation. This will also help with the drying-out process.
Knowing how to prevent mold after a flood can be a skill that can save you a great deal of trouble in the long term. As hard as it can be to throw away household items that look perfectly good, those items can be a serious risk if they are harboring mold spores. You can try treating these items to kill the spores, but if it becomes necessary to dispose of them then doing so may be the best course of action. It's better to do that than have them contaminate the new items you bought to replace damaged ones.