Simple Precautions for Water Damage Cleanup (Homeowner)


Water damage cleanup has “rules” that should be followed, even by the homeowner.


According to the IICRC, (International Institute of Cleaning and Restoration Certification) S500 Restoration Standard, water from outside, is “contaminated,” containing disease causing (pathogenic) organisms.

Porous material, like sheetrock, wood trim, cabinets, paneling, carpet and pad etc., saturated by a flood, cannot be cleaned properly.  It must be removed. 


Mold can cause serious problems for some people. Bacteria can be much worse. Please beeeee careful!


NOTE: Water can look clean as a spring and be contaminated. Visual ID is not always dependable.

Any structure has mold and bacteria in it. Under normal conditions it is at an acceptable level, for most people. Add moisture and the mold and bacteria (and some viruses) are now growing to an unacceptable level.

There's mold and bacteria that was already in the structure added to the huge load brought in by the flood. There's also, fertilizer, termite treatments, dog, cat, bird feces, urine and oil, among other things, that streamed in and we have an unsafe working environment.                                                        

Flooded structure cleanup requires special precautions. 


NOTE: Not all molds are bad, but unless you know the difference, treat it all with respect.


Bacteria, can multiply at an astronomical rate, when wet. Each additional day makes a huge difference during water damage situations.

  1. Wear, at least, gloves and boots.
  2. A respirator and even a Tyvec suit is recommended.
  3. Plain dust masks do not repel mold and bacteria. Be sure to wear a mask designed to handle this.
  4. A homeowner should be able to find respirators, boots, gloves and Tyvec (non-penetrating) coveralls, locally

NOTE: Respirators can create stress, while breathing through them, that could endanger those with respiratory, heart or other problems.

Babies, older people, and those whose immune systems are affected through illness and have difficulty fighting off disease, should not be in a flooded environment. Pregnant women should, also, avoid contanination situations. 


NEVER touch your face until you have washed your hands, while doing water damage cleanup work! 


After, the contaminated, porous materials have been removed; it’s time to wash, non porous surfaces, left behind. There are good disinfectants, designed for this. They work best on cleaned up surfaces. Disinfectants can be ineffective if the bulk of the "biological load" has not been removed.

They can't do it all. 

Porous material, not removed, such as concrete and framing studs, soaked by a flood, must not only be washed with a disinfectant solution but, when dried, consider sealing them to “lock in” contamination.

There are sealing products made for this.

Wash the clothes you work in, separately, from the kids clothes. Use the hottest cleaning solution you can generate.


If possible, hire an expert.

This is some of the basic stuff, NOT ALL considerations!!

If doing the water damage cleanup yourself, be careful, there’s some nasty stuff you’ll be dealing with!  



                                     Dennis Klager









Copyright 2012 by Dennis Klager