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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Cleaning carpets, rugs and floors after a flood

STILLWATER, Okla. – One of the most challenging parts of cleaning up after a flood is drying the flooring, especially if it was contaminated by mud.

Any successful effort to salvage water damaged carpets, rugs and floors should begin as soon as possible following a flood, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist.

“The easiest option is to hire a professional cleaner to handle damaged flooring,” she said. “But, if that’s not possible, there are steps you can take to try to save your carpets, rugs and floors.”

Before starting to clean flooring, put on rubber gloves to protect your skin. It also is a good idea to wash exposed skin often with clean water. 

For carpets, loosen and fold back wet sections of carpet. Or, if the carpet can be removed, take it outside for cleaning.

“Use a hose on muddy carpets, then apply a disinfecting carpet cleaner into soiled areas with a broom,” Peek said. “Discard the wet padding.”

To counteract the possibility of mildew and odors, try rinsing the carpet backing with a solution of 2 tablespoons of bleach to 1 gallon of water. But, do not apply this solution to wool carpets.

If mildew has already formed on the carpet, use a solution of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide to five parts water, testing for colorfastness first.

It is best to throw away any carpeting or rugs that cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried.

If wood floors are swelling, take out a board every few feet to reduce buckling as a result of swelling.

Remove vinyl flooring so wood subflooring can be discarded and replaced. If the subflooring is concrete, taking up the vinyl covering is not required, but it can speed up the process of drying the slab.

If floodwater has gotten beneath sheet flooring, the entire sheet should be removed and replaced.

“Only reinstall carpeting when the carpet is completely dry and you’ve disinfected the subfloor,” Peek said. “The same goes for floors and rugs, regardless of the type. Everything should be carefully disinfected, cleaned and fully dry before any repairs begin.”

 

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Email: leilana.mckindra@okstate.edu

Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
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