What are the Best Tips for Cleaning Water Damage?

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  • Written By: K.C. Bruning
  • Edited By: John Allen
  • Last Modified Date: 13 March 2020
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The primary steps for cleaning water damage are to thoroughly dry all damp areas, discard items that cannot be salvaged, and clean all affected items and areas with a mild soap. In order to completely recover from water damage, it is important to address stains and take action to prevent the growth of mold and mildew. While some of this can be accomplished without special tools or professional help, it can be helpful to use both in order to properly clean damaged areas and items.

The key to thoroughly cleaning water damage is to remove all items that will prevent any part of the affected area to thoroughly dry. Any carpeting and padding, linoleum, or furniture that is covering a wet or water damaged area should be removed so that the area can receive adequate air for drying. Then get as much air as possible circulating through the area by running fans and opening doors and windows if the climate allows it. It can be helpful to rent more powerful industrial fans which are specially created to dry large areas.


In some instances, it may be necessary to rent a professional vacuum in order to thoroughly remove all water and dry the area before cleaning water damage. This will help to prevent the growth of mold and should be done as soon as possible after the damage has occurred. Carpets should also be removed as quickly as possible. It is best to hire an experienced professional to remove carpets, as it requires special knowledge to complete the task without damaging the floor.

A mild soap and water should be adequate for cleaning most areas affected by water damage. A mop, rag or sponge can be used to scrub the affected area. Bleach can be used for problem areas.

There are several items that will not survive extensive water damage either due to permanent staining or the impossibility of preventing mold growth on the item. Items such as toys, pillows and mattresses, and anything made of wicker or reeds should be discarded. Some fabric covered furnishings such as chairs and ottomans can be salvaged, but in many cases, they are difficult to dry thoroughly. Any insulation that suffered water damage should be disposed of as it is too dense to thoroughly clean and dry.

Ceiling tiles are also usually not salvageable and should be replaced. In rare instances some tiles can be saved with a hot steam clean. If the stains are removed from the tiles, they must be thoroughly dried afterwards.

Cleaning water damage can be successful with several other household items. Clothing, throw rugs, and linens can all be machine washed. In many cases heavy curtains can also be salvaged if they are dry-cleaned.



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