Cleaning Carpet and Floors
Cleaning water-soaked carpets and floors is a difficult chore in itself, but in the aftermath of a hurricane, contamination by mud, silt, sewage and mildew can compound the problem. It's best to get professional cleaners to work on carpets and floors, but this may not be possible. In any case, begin cleanup as soon as possible.
- Pull up carpets and rugs and drape them outdoors.
- Hose carpets down. Work a low-sudsing, disinfectant carpet cleaning product deep into soiled spots with a broom.
- To discourage mildew and odors, rinse with a solution of two tablespoons bleach to one gallon water. DON'T USE THIS SOLUTION ON WOOL CARPETS.
- Dry carpet and floor thoroughly before replacing carpet to avoid future mildew problems and shrinkage. Use fans, vacuum cleaners and dehumidifiers to speed the drying.
- Waffle-weave and foam or rubber-type pads may be reused.
- Sections of subfloors that separate must be replaced to avoid buckling. When floor coverings are removed, allow subfloors to dry thoroughly, even though it may take several months.
- 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 floor thoroughly before attempting repairs.
- In vinyl floors with wood subflooring, the floor covering should be removed so the subflooring can be replaced. With concrete floors, removal 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, wash exposed skin frequently in purified water. Wear rubber gloves for extra protection against contamination.