Fighting Mold After A Flood

Carl L Marcellino

October 28, 2005

Many homeowners, renters and business owners experienced flooding due to the heavy rains and recent Northeaster. If your home was flooded it could begin to harbor mold. Care must be taken to properly clean and completely dry any areas that have gotten wet from floodwaters and to remove mold and mildew properly.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is offering the following information on helping people treat the mold problems caused by flooding:

  • First make sure the electricity is turned off.
  • Wear a dust mask and gloves while cleaning.
  • Identify and remove any sources of moisture.
  • Begin drying any and all materials that got wet.
  • Remove and dispose of mold-contaminated materials.
  • Clean non-porous or semi-porous items.
  • Disinfect surfaces by mixing 1/4 to 1/2 cup bleach in every gallon of water and apply to surfaces where mold growth was visible before cleaning.
  • Apply the disinfecting solution with a spray bottle, garden sprayer, sponge or other suitable method.
  • When disinfecting heavily soiled surfaces, it is important to change the disinfecting solution frequently to ensure effectiveness. It should be changed when it becomes cloudy.
  • Allow the treated surfaces to dry naturally and use fans or air conditioning to speed up the drying process.
  • You can reduce the incidence of mold growth by reducing the humidity, lowering the temperature of your home, and ventilating bath and cooking areas. Also, avoid installing carpet in basements, kitchens and baths.
  • If mold odors persist, continue to dry out the area and search for any hidden areas of mold. If any area continues to smell musty, you may have to repeat the cleaning process.

Concerns about indoor exposure to mold is rising with the awareness of its possible harmful effects to your health. Most types of molds that are routinely encountered are not hazardous to healthy individuals. However, molds have been implicated as the cause of a variety of health issues ranging from minor allergic reactions (congestion, runny nose, eye irritation) and exacerbation of asthma to organ damage. The severity of the impact depends upon the type and amount of mold present as well as the susceptibility and sensitivity of the individual exposed.

The basic rule is, if you can see or smell mold, take the necessary steps to remove it.

More information on mold and flood clean-up is available at:


· U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Indoor Air - Mold

· Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protect Yourself From Mold