Mold Prevention: Flood Clean-Up Tips
A thunderstorm – or worse, a hurricane – pounds down and rain floods into your home. Call it a worst-case scenario for homeowners and tenants who need to keep mold out of their home and away from their lungs.
“Mold is one of the most common allergens,” says board-certified allergist Dana Wallace, MD, who’s no stranger to flooding where she lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “It’s also a huge factor for people with asthma. I tell patients whose homes are affected by water damage that it’s important to act immediately to dry things out.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says floodwater can make the air in your home unhealthy. This is because when things get wet, they usually get moldy. In addition, there may be germs and bugs in your home after a flood.
If there is a large amount of water damage (more than 15 square feet), you may need to call a professional. You’ll likely need to tear out the carpets, throw out stuffed furniture and repair the walls.
“When in doubt, throw it out,” Dr. Wallace says. “Mold is hard to get rid of. Even with professional drying, you could still have problems.”
Some clean-up tips:
- Clean outside storm debris as soon as possible, as mold will grow there quickly.
- Inside, replace wet porous materials such as carpets, padding or furnace filters.
- Replace water-soaked wallboards up to the water line.
- Wash hard-surface areas with bleach solution or a nontoxic solution of white vinegar and water.
- While cleaning, protect your eyes and lungs with an N-95 respirator (available in most hardware or home remodeling stores) and goggles without vents.
- Wear gloves, long sleeves, long pants and work boots.
- Run fans and/or dehumidifiers to help dry things out.
- Prevent future water damage by keeping gutters clean and clearing brush and bushes away from your home – anything that will prevent drainage or cause rain water to collect around the foundation.
For more mold clean-up ideas and nontoxic cleaning alternatives, download Allergy & Asthma Network’s free Indoor AiRepair™ at Home, School and Play booklet.