Some unforeseen event allowed water into your home and onto all of your belongings. Perhaps it was water sprayed into the home because of a house fire, a deluge from a winter storm from the Pacific, or a simple leak from the bathroom sink. The danger has passed but you are immediately faced with piles of wet clothes, electronics, and furniture. Now that it’s time to clean up, where should you begin and how do you go about repairing a water damage disaster?
First things first
Within minutes, your home’s structure and belongings will begin absorbing the water. Within hours, the moisture can warp the materials and support the growth of harmful mold. In an effort to stop as much destruction as possible, move valuable and vulnerable items to an area where they can dry. Is the garage safe and undamaged? Can you store in a secure outdoor area? Begin to make swift decisions with the big picture in mind.
Now that the leak has been repaired, what can I salvage?
Now is the time to be decisive! Rent a trash bin. Dispose of any soft items that absorbed any unsanitary water. If the water was clean from the sink or the firehose, get fabric items spread out, up on racks and in the sunshine. Good air circulation and sunlight will prevent mildew and mold. Remember timing is of the essence when dealing with mold growth because the longer mold stays on the fabric, the worse it will smell and the more time it has to weaken and eventually rot your clothes. A professional restoration team can help you determine which items are salvageable and which are not.
Sort and separate your clothes
Mildew leaves a distinct smell on your clothes. After the clothes are dried in the sun, give them a sniff. Presoak remaining clothes that have stains in cold water, then wash in hot water with detergent. As you make your way through loads of laundry over the next few days, add vinegar + extra detergents + long rinse times to freshen your garments.
Acknowledge your investment in your footwear
Inspect your shoes and boots; suede is a loss but others might survive. Allow canvas shoes to dry in the sun for a while as direct sunlight can often kill many different types of mold. However, protect leather shoes from strong sunlight that could dry wet leather to a crisp!
is nothing but animal skin (most often cattle or horse) which is made up of fat and proteins can only retain a set amount of moisture after being cured and tanned. The fibers that crisscross each other in the corium, or the hide, give leather its unique strength but are also very susceptible to drying out and cracking if not treated with care.
One home technique for saving questionable shoes is to dry leather shoes out by packing to shape with rolled paper or kitchen roll (not a newspaper because of the ink) and then replace every few hours or days for up to a week or more. However, take your expensive, valuable, classic shoes to a good cobbler or shoe repair for an educated guess and a quote.
Get the Germs Out!!!
Trash any food, medicine or toiletries that came in contact with floodwater. Remember, germs grow in warm wet places so any cardboard containers are ruined. Ceramics, glass, and stainless steel will be fine with hot water and a little bleach. However, look at all metals with skepticism. After the initial sort if you see signs of rust now you run a risk of staining if you reintroduce back into the kitchen.