Water Pollution Control

Cleaning Carpets and Floors

Cleaning water-soaked carpets and floors is a difficult chore in itself, but in the aftermath of a major storm, contamination by mud, silt, sewage, and mildew can compound the problem. It's best to get professional cleaners to work on carpets and floors, if possible, particularly if sewage is involved. Regardless of who does the work, begin cleanup as soon as possible.


  • If the carpet doesn't feel wet but you suspect the subfloor is, then pull up one or two corners of the carpet to check the condition.

  • If rugs are wet and it is possible, pull up wet rugs or carpet and drape outdoors to clean.

  • Carpets can be hosed down. With a broom, work a low-sudsing, disinfectant carpet cleaning product deep into all soiled areas.

  • To discourage mildew and odors, rinse with a solution of two tablespoons household bleach to one gallon of water. DON'T USE THIS SOLUTION ON WOOL CARPETS. To avoid further mildew problems and shrinkage, dry carpet and floor thoroughly before re-laying carpet. Use fans, wet/dry vacuum cleaners, and dehumidifiers to speed up the drying process.

  • Waffle weave and foam or rubber-type carpet pads may be reused, if properly cleaned and depending on their condition and the amount and type of flooding.

  • Sections of sub-floors that separate must be replaced to avoid buckling. When floor coverings are removed allow sub-floors to dry thoroughly, even if it takes several months. Moisture or high humidity may attract termites and carpenter ants.

  • In wood floors, remove a board every few feet to reduce buckling caused by swelling. Ask a carpenter for tips on removing tongue-and-groove boards. Clean and dry the floor thoroughly before attempting repairs.

  • In vinyl floors with wood sub-floors, the floor covering should be removed so that the sub-floor can be replaced. With concrete floors, removal of floor covering isn't necessary except to hasten drying of the slab.

  • Loose tiles may be replaced individually if the floor hasn't been soaked. If water has seeped under sheet flooring, remove the entire sheet.

  • While cleaning up, wash exposed skin frequently with purified water and soap. Wear rubber gloves for extra protection against contamination.

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