Home Flood Cleanup: Caring for Your Belongings

home flood cleanup

One of the priorities of home flood cleanup is rescuing valuables and other family belongings from the ravages of exposure to water. Flooding from any source—exterior or interior—can actually pose a greater threat to possessions than fire damage in many cases. It’s vital to take steps as soon as it’s safely possible to initiate recovery of items contacted by water.

Caveat: If flooding resulted from a sewage backup, any belongings contacted by it must be considered toxic and contaminated. Qualified water damage professionals on the scene for home flood cleanup can determine whether items are safe to work with.

  • Conduct triage. Determine which items are most valuable to you as well as those most likely to be salvageable. Sentimental value often takes precedence over dollar value when it comes to photographs, family heirlooms, etc. Where affected possessions have high value only in economic terms—such as consumer electronics—decide whether the cost of repairing those items is worth it.  
  • Move identified items away from wet areas. Open windows and circulate air to exhaust damaging high humidity. Run the HVAC fan if the system has been approved to operate. If the entire home was flooded, relocate items to a sheltered, secure location elsewhere.
  • Clean and dry. Gently rinse affected photos with clean water. Dry by placing on a plastic screen to allow air circulation on both sides, or by hanging from a line with clothespins at the corners. Remove water-soaked photos from photo albums or frames, then rinse and air-dry.  To preserve valuable books affected by water, insert absorbent paper towels between wet pages.  
  • Freeze-dry if necessary. Items like books, photographs, documents or textiles that can’t be cleaned and dried within 48 hours should be placed in plastic bags, then frozen in a freezer for later treatment. This stops mold from forming and ruining the items.
  • Don’t power up electronics. Some electronic devices like computers and video cameras may be successfully restored after water exposure. However, powering up a wet unit may make that impossible. Data can also be retrieved from wet hard drives. Numerous companies offer this specialized professional service.

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