NC State Extension Publications


Cleaning up after a disaster can be overwhelming. Here’s a list of steps that can help you get back into your home.

  1. Examine the building structure. Check foundations for settling, cracking or undermining. See what repairs need to be made to walls, floors, doors and windows. You may want to make temporary repairs now. Extensive work can be done later.
  2. If your basement is flooded, start pumping the water in stages. Pump about a third of the water each day.
  3. If the electrical system has been flooded, have it checked out by an electrician. If fuse box is in a flooded basement, do not turn electricity back on until water has been pumped out. Take flooded electrical appliances to a qualified service repair center as soon as possible.
  4. Get your water system working. Disinfect your wells. Do not use water from a municipal or private supply until health authorities have tested it.
  5. Shovel out mud and silt inside the home before it dries.
  6. Before they dry, wash down flooded walls and floors with hose. Start at upper limit of flooding and work downward.
  7. Scrub and disinfect walls and floors.
  8. If you have power, turn on the furnace, if possible, to speed up drying. If your heating system was flooded, have it cleaned, dried and reconditioned before operating it. Make sure vents are clean before starting the furnace. Ductwork that has been flooded must be thoroughly cleaned or replaced before starting the furnace.
  9. Dry out walls and floors. Drywall acts like a sponge, drawing water above the flood level, so it may be necessary to remove wall board above the flood line. For proper drying, strip drywall up to water level. Remove wet insulation. Drill holes in exterior siding. Complete drying may take months.
  10. Repair buckled walls and floors.
  11. Clean, disinfect, and dry household items, furniture, carpets, clothing and dishes.
  12. Treat items for mildew as needed.
  13. Care for damaged trees, shrubs and lawn.
  14. Repaint, repair and refinish as necessary.

Supplies and Equipment for Home Cleanup

Skip to Supplies and Equipment for Home Cleanup

Cleaning Supplies

  • Low-sudsing, non-phosphate detergent
  • Bleach*
  • Disinfectant
  • Ammonia*
  • Scouring powder
  • Rubber gloves
  • Boots or heavy-soled shoes

*Note: Do not mix chemicals, especially bleach and ammonia

Equipment for Small Jobs

  • Buckets
  • Tools (crowbar, hammer, screwdriver)
  • Sponges and cloths
  • Scrub brushes
  • Scoops
  • Throw-away containers for garbage and container to carry waste from house to street
  • Water hose

Equipment for Large Jobs

  • Buckets
  • Tools (crowbar, hammer, screwdriver)
  • Brooms
  • Shovels
  • Hoes
  • Sponge mop or mop that is easily squeezed out
  • Water hose
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Dolly
  • Bushel baskets
  • Wash tubs (for soaking objects)

Personal Protective Equipment

  • N-95 disposable filtering face piece
  • Rubber gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Heavy boots
  • Protective clothing on legs and arms

For More Information

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For more information on disaster preparedness and recovery visit the NC Disaster Information Center.

Find more information at the following NC State Extension websites:

Publication date: June 5, 2014
Revised: March 27, 2024

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