After a flood - clearing up

You should only start the clean up when you're certain it is safe to return to your home after a flood. Get an electrician to check your electrical appliances. Always wear protective clothing when cleaning surfaces, floors and walls contaminated by flood water.

Emergency financial payments

If heavy rainfall cause a flood in your home, ask the local council about their emergency payments scheme.

Returning to a property after flooding

Before you start to clear up, you should:

  • find out if it’s safe to return to your property
  • ask your insurance company if they will organise professional cleaners to clean your home

If you were evacuated because of flooding, you’ll be told it’s safe to return home by:

  • the emergency services
  • your insurance company
  • your council
  • Department for Infrastructure
  • Northern Ireland Water

Check your electricity supply and electrical appliances

Before you start clearing up:

  • check that the electricity supply is switched off at the mains
  • if you aren’t sure the electricity is turned off, get a qualified person to do this
  • don’t touch sources of electricity while standing in floodwater
  • get any electrical appliances that have come into contact with floodwater checked by a qualified electrician before using them again

To find an electrician, go to:

Protecting yourself while cleaning up

Make sure you wear protective clothing when you clean up following a flood. Floodwater can be contaminated with sewage, chemicals and animal waste. You’ll need to disinfect anything that comes into contact with it.

You should always:

  • wear protective clothing, like a waterproof jacket and trousers and rubber gloves
  • use a face mask
  • wash your hands with disinfectant if you have been in contact with floodwater, mud or handled items that have been in contact with floodwater
  • make sure any open cuts or wounds on exposed skin are covered by a waterproof plaster

Looking after your health while cleaning up

Clearing up after a flood can be stressful and you can get ill from pollution or sewage in flood water. If you start to feel unwell contact your GP.

Getting rid of floodwater

Once the water levels are lower outside than inside your property, you can begin to get rid of the water by using a pump or bucket. You can hire or buy a pump and generator from a DIY shop.

Make sure you put the generator outside to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust.

Cleaning surfaces in your home

You will need to do an initial clean and follow this by disinfecting all surfaces that were contaminated by floodwater.

You can clean contaminated surfaces with a brush, hot water and household cleaning fluid.

Don't forget to clean enclosed spaces under kitchen units or floorboards. If floodwater was contaminated with oil or diesel, you’ll need to use a detergent like washing up liquid.

Once you have finished cleaning, use household disinfectant on everything that has come into contact with floodwater.

You will need to wash contaminated clothing and bedding at a high temperature.

Drying the building

Drying out your home can take weeks or months, depending on:

  • how serious the flooding was
  • type and thickness of the building materials

You can use your central heating to help dry out the house once the heating system has been checked by a qualified engineer.

For best results the temperature should be set at 20 to 22 degrees centigrade.

You can speed up the drying process by keeping the building well ventilated by opening as many windows and doors as possible and using a fan.

If you use a dehumidifier to remove water from the air in your home, you need to keep external doors and windows shut.

Major redecoration or repair work

Get professional advice from a builder if you need to do any major redecoration or repair work on your home following a flood. Use a builder recommended by your local council or insurance company.

Contacting utility suppliers

If your home was flooded, contact your utility suppliers.

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