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Cleaning up after a flood

The Mississippi River is receding, and although we will not be back below flood levels for a while, it's never too early to start to prepare.

MOLINE, Ill. — The Mississippi River is starting to recede, although it will be a while before we get back to normal levels, it is never too early to know what to do after the flood waters leave.

Precautions to prevent injury during clean-up:

  • Air out and wipe dry all appliances and electrical outlets exposed to water. If necessary, you may have to turn off the main power to your home.
  • If you have fuel, oil or gas systems, be sure tanks are secure and all lines are free from breaks.
  • Wear rubber boots, gloves, and an N95 or HEPA respirator mask during clean-up and removal.
  • Open windows to ventilate and dry the area.

Home cleaning guidelines:

  • Discard any contaminated objects that cannot be thoroughly washed or laundered.
  • Wash contaminated surfaces and objects with warm, soapy water and disinfect with a bleach water solution with 1 cup of bleach per every gallon of water. If items are sensitive to bleach, use a laundry disinfectant.
  • Do not use ammonia and do not mix it with bleach as the vapors are very dangerous to inhale.

Cleaning Carpets and Rugs

  • If carpets and rugs cannot be thoroughly dried and cleaned, they need to be discarded and replaced.
  • If only a small section of the carpet or rug is damaged, you can use a mild detergent to clean it.
  • If you have the funds, there are professional home cleaning services that can clean your carpet for you.

Floors, Drapes and Furniture

Floors and hard surfaces should be cleaned with a solution made of one cup of bleach per gallon of water. You can use a household disinfectant on items affected by bleach such as drapes and furniture. If you have the funds, a professional cleaning company can clean your furniture and drapes as well.


  • Pump out standing water and remove all debris. You will need to pump once waters have receded below basement level.
  • Allow debris to drain before disposal and strain liquids from trash.
  • Once strained, wrap debris in newspaper and store in tight lid garbage cans until pick up.
  • Paneling and wallboard must be immediately cleaned and thoroughly dried. If damage is severe, the paneling needs to be removed and replaced.

Food and Water

  • Until the water supply is safe, only use bottled and distilled water for all your needs.
  • If refrigerators or freezers have taken in water, discard food stored there.
  • If power was lost for a long period of time, discard the food even if flood waters did not get into the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Discard bulging or leaking canned food or food stored in jars, undented cans can be cleaned with a bleach solution before use.

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