How to Clean Your Home and Remove Water Stains After a Major Storm

You'll want to dry wood and carpet quickly once the storm and flooding ends.

Hurricanes and storms are a cause for concern when you consider the risk of flooding and damage to your home. "The first thing you want to do is ensure your home is safe enough to stay in following the storm," advises Ariel Rothbard, TaskRabbit's Lifestyle Trend Expert. "Depending on the level of damage, you may need to bring in an expert to assess the safety of your space, as well as to support the cleanup process."

Here's everything you need to know to make a safe plan of action and clean your home.

The First 48 Hours Are Critical

"Once you've determined your home is safe, you'll want to clean up and dry your home quickly after the storm or flood ends, ideally within a 24-to-48-hour window," says Rothbard. "Ensuring your home is dried out within 1-2 days maximum is critical in lowering the risk of long-lasting damage and preventing harmful mold. You can do this by opening doors and windows to air out your house, and using fans to speed up the process."

Mold caused by water damage is not your friend, so if you're starting to see some mold growing on the walls, mix a solution of one part bleach to three parts hot water, wear protective gear such as rubber gloves, goggles and a mask, and scrub the affected area with a soft brush until all signs of the mold have disappeared.

"Removing debris outdoors is also critically important, as you want to ensure the area surrounding your home is safe and that there's nothing blocking any entrances or exits, which could be a fire hazard, says Rothbard. "This can be pretty daunting, and it can be extremely helpful to lean on family, friends, or community members to support the cleanup."

The CDC also recommends you discard items that you can't clean or dry quickly (such as mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and paper products). However, sometimes it's hard to remove carpeting after a storm and wood flooring will likely remain after a flood event, so the most important thing is getting rid of mold and stains. Here, experts recommend natural cleaning processes as well as chemical methods specifically for tackling water damage.

How to Remove Water Stains from Wood

A sandwich condiment favorite is also a commonly-used tool for removing water stains from wood: mayonnaise. "Oil—a key ingredient in mayonnaise—will seep into wood, dislodge the water, and act as a finish," advises Rothbard. "Mixing equal parts vinegar and olive oil is another option. Whichever you use, you'll want to apply the oil to the water stain using a dry cloth and gently wipe the area until the water stain starts to lift."

Another home expert and founder of Happy DIY Home, a leading gardening and home improvement blog, Jen Stark recommends steel wool. "Get the finest grade steel wool that you possibly can because you don't want to scratch the floor. "Gently rub lemon oil into the wood using the steel wool, and make sure you work in the direction of the grain," she says. "Work slowly so you don't go beyond the stain and start stripping away the finish. "

Consider renting a hot air dryer to take care of your water stain. "Use the hot air dryer and point it in the direction of the water stain on the floor," says Stark. "Turn it on a low setting and periodically move it around the stain. Doing so will help dry it without getting hot enough to damage the finish."

How to Remove Water Stains from Carpet

A tried-and-true method of using vinegar as a cleaning agent is also relevant when you are looking to remove water stains from carpeting. "Mix equal parts vinegar and water in a bowl, and using a cloth rag, gently apply the mixture to the water stains on your carpet by pressing down repeatedly until the stains start to lift," advises Rothbard.

You can also try using classic carpet detergent for bringing your carpet back to life after flooding or storm events. "I find the most effective way to use this agent is to invest in a carpet cleaning vacuum, which you can find at many popular retailers and hardware stores for a moderate price," says Rothbard. "They're also very easy to use, but if you decide to use your hands, mix one part detergent to 10 parts water in a bucket, and gently scrub the carpet with this mixture using a cloth rag or soft brush. If you choose to explore this route, just make sure you're wearing rubber gloves to protect yourself."

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles