Sunday 19 Jan 2020

Cleaning Tips Following Hurricane Matthew

When Hurricane Matthew’s floodwaters recede in eastern North Carolina, homeowners should assume that everything touched by flood water is contaminated and will need to be disinfected. Most household cleaning products are sufficient; however, some precautions are necessary.

Flood water leaves behind silt and mud – wear sturdy shoes to prevent slipping and falling. Gloves provide additional protection from contamination and frequent hand washing is recommended. If a backflow of sewage has gotten into the house, wear rubber boots and waterproof gloves during cleanup.

Remove and discard contaminated household materials that cannot be disinfected, such as rugs and drywall. Wash all linens and clothing in hot water or have them dry-cleaned. Throw out anything that cannot be washed, such as mattresses and upholstered furniture or air dry them in the sun and then spray them thoroughly with a disinfectant.

Walls, hard-surface floors and many other household surfaces should be cleaned with soap and water and disinfected with a solution of one cup bleach to five gallons of water. Use a two-bucket method, one for the cleaning solution and the other for rinse water, and replace the rinse water frequently.

Mildew can be removed with a household mildew cleaner or by using 1/4 cup (two ounces) of laundry bleach in one gallon of water.

Disinfect surfaces that may come in contact with food – counter tops, pantry shelves, refrigerators, etc. If power has been off, throw away food that has been without refrigeration for more than two hours. Boxed foods (cereals, crackers, pastas, etc.) that became wet need to be thrown away – when in doubt, throw it out.

Brooms, mops, brushes, sponges, buckets, hose, rubber gloves, rags, cleaning solutions, disinfectants, trash bags, and even a hair dryer should be on your cleaning list. If the tasks ahead seem overwhelming, try focusing on one room at a time.


Dial 211 to speak with a trained call specialist about Hurricane Matthew assistance in your area; the service is free, confidential and available in any language. Call 511 for the latest road conditions or check the ReadyNC mobile app, which also has real-time shelter and evacuation information. For updates on Hurricane Matthew impacts and relief efforts, go to or follow N.C. Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook. People or organizations that want to help ensure North Carolina recovers can visit or text NCRecovers to 30306.

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