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Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources

Cleaning carpets, rugs and floors after a natural disaster

Cleaning floors.jpgOne of the most challenging parts of cleaning up a home or other property after a natural disaster such as a tornado or flood is drying the flooring, especially if the storm water was contaminated by mud.

“Longer-term wetness and flooding usually ruins interior finishes and contents,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist. “But, if the structure has been wet for only a short time and you can start cleaning up immediately, then you might be able to salvage some types of flooring.”

The easiest option is to hire a professional cleaner, but if that is not possible, there are some do-it-yourself options available to homeowners.

“After a home has been flooded, the first step is to decide if the flooring can be salvaged,” Peek said “First, remove furniture, carpet and carpet padding. Since floodwater can contain contaminants, it is best to replace carpet and padding.”

In flooded homes with wood flooring, take out a board every few feet to reduce buckling as a result of swelling. If the flooring is tongue and groove, consult a professional.

Remove vinyl flooring, so the subfloor can dry out. Families with asbestos flooring should consult a professional for guidance.

Once damaged flooring, including carpet and padding, is removed, clean and dry the subfloor. It is possible some parts of the subfloor may be damaged beyond repair and need to be replaced. This may be especially true for plywood and oriented strand board (OSB).

“Only begin repairing and reinstalling flooring when the structure is completely clean and dry. Keep in mind the drying process could take several weeks” Peek said.

 

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Oklahoma State University - Stillwater, OK 74078
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