Cleaning Your Home After Water Damage: The Ultimate Guide

BY Kristen Fowler | Thu Jun 29, 2017
Cleaning Your Home After Water Damage: The Ultimate Guide

Whether you’ve discovered a slow leaking faucet or your basement unexpectedly floods, water damage can spiral into serious problems. You must act quickly to protect your home, possessions and financial bottom line. See below for a step-by-step guide to cleaning your home after water damage.

Clear the Area

The first thing you should do is remove your furniture and belongings. And make sure that you flipped the breaker and cut power to the room before touching any electronics. When considering what you can and can’t salvage, remember that the less absorbent the item, the greater the chance you can clean and dry it.

Next, remove wet flooring, including carpets, rugs and underpadding immediately. Also, if any food items are contaminated, list before discarding. You will need this list for your insurance claim. If you are in doubt on what to save, err on the side of caution. You have 24-48 hours to counteract damaging bacteria and mold spore growth.

Start to Dry the Area

If the affected area is small, begin to soak water up with towels, a wet/dry vacuum or even kitty litter. You should also open the windows, grab a fan and a dehumidifier if you have one to help dry the area. When setting these appliances up make sure to use outlets that are dry and a safe distance away.

If a large area of your home was damaged, you can rent sump pumps from hardware stores to help. Next, cut out wet areas of drywall and check baseboards for moisture. You’ll want to remove any materials made of a porous material like pressboard.


Remember that 24-48 hour window for resultant bacteria and mold spore development? You’re in it. If manageable, you can disinfect the area yourself using a hard brush, disposable rags and a 10 percent bleach solution. But, be sure to wear rubber gloves, a mask and eye protection if you’re cleaning the space yourself. You’ll want to allow the solution to sit on contaminated surfaces for 10 minutes before rinsing off.

For larger-scope water damage, try using commercial mildew and bacteria removal products. Consider renting a mister to disinfect all areas unilaterally, especially the hard to reach ones.

Contact Insurance

Report your water damage and the steps you’ve taken to remedy it to your insurance company. List damaged and destroyed items as well as any commercial supplies or professional services utilized. Even if your home stands as a soggy mess, make sure to find a safe place for all the receipts.

Be sure to ask your insurance agent about the feasibility of providing samples. Not only might they support proof of your water damage claim, but allow for damage and pollution level assessment.

Assess Damage and Pollution Level

Water damage gets assessed in three categories according to the water source pollution level:

  • Category 1 refers to damage caused by a clean water source and shouldn’t cause illness.
  • Category 2 may possess bacteria and could cause harm upon contact.
  • Category 3 denotes damage with high contamination levels and may seriously threaten your health.

Any contact with bacteria can turn Category 1 damage into a far more serious problem. The higher the contaminate level, the more aggressive your restoration needs to be. Effective water damage rehabilitation, mold remediation and swift sanitation minimize damage to your home and help assure the immediate health of your family.

Maintain Restoration

Once dry and clear, these steps will help boost your home’s restoration maintenance effectiveness:

  • Keep a proactive eye out for leaky faucets and toilet malfunctions. Examine your washing machine hose for age and possible overuse, two of the most likely culprits for a blow! Make sure to raise replaced appliances off the floor.
  • Consider substituting drywall or wood in your home with less porous materials like stone, tile and concrete. If your restoration includes a necessary remodel, try switching these items out.
  • Finally, don’t forget your home’s exterior! Clean gutters, routinely checking for blockage and maintain drainage. Eliminate standing water on your roof or from pooling near your foundation. Water damage is unexpected, inconvenient and aggravating, but thanks to the numerous restoration methods, products and services available, water damage doesn’t have to sink you!

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