Cleaning-up After the Storm
When cleaning clothes soaked during storm flooding, the flood water may have been contaminated with sewage waste. Simply drying these is not enough. For safety sake they must be disinfected to kill harmful bacteria. Liquid chlorine bleach is the most accessible, cheapest and easiest disinfectant to use in the home. However, chlorine bleach cannot be used on some garments. Drycleaning is also effective.
When cleaning flood-damaged clothing:
- Separate wet items as soon as possible to keep clothing colors from running together. Sort out clothing that should be dry-cleaned.
- Items to be drycleaned should be air-dried and taken to a cleaner as soon as possible. (When drying items you suspect may have been in sewage-contaminated water wear plastic gloves.)
- Do not dry any clothes near a heat source such as a stove. Dry at air or room temperature.
- Once dry, shake and brush to remove as much soil as possible.
- Rinse washable items several times in cold water. If badly soiled, soak overnight in cold water and detergent. Wring out and air dry if you're unable to machine wash.
- Machine wash clothes as soon as possible. Use detergent and a disinfectant. Use highest water level possible, don't overcrowd washer and use hottest water temperature suitable for the garments. Wash for longest cycle available. Dry in a dryer (if available) at the hottest temperature suitable for the fabric.
- If an item is still stained after washing, rewash before drying as drying may make some stains more difficult to remove.