Water Damage Cleanup and Mold Prevention Guidelines

If you’ve experienced water damage, you may be able to avoid the need for costly and complicated mold remediation by taking quick action before any mold growth starts. Depending on the size of the area involved and resources available, professional assistance may be needed to dry an area quickly and thoroughly.

The guidelines below outline the appropriate action to take based on the type of water-damaged material.†

(NOTE: These  actions should be taken within 48 hours of CLEAN water damage to prevent mold growth*)

Books and papers

  • For non-valuable items, discard books and papers
  • Photocopy valuable/important items, discard originals
  • Freeze (in frost-free freezer or meat locker) or freeze-dry

Carpet and backing

  • Dry completely within 24-48 hours
  • Remove water with water extraction vacuum
  • Reduce ambient humidity levels with dehumidifier
  • Accelerate drying process with fans

Ceiling tiles

  • Discard and replace

Cellulose insulation

  • Discard and replace

Concrete or cinder block surfaces

  • Remove water with water extraction vacuum
  • Accelerate drying process with dehumidifiers, fans and/or heaters

Fiberglass insulation

  • Discard and replace

Hard surface, porous flooring§ (Linoleum, ceramic tile, vinyl)

  • Vacuum or damp wipe with water and mild detergent and allow to dry; scrub if necessary
  • Check to make sure under flooring is dry; dry under flooring if necessary

Non-porous, hard surfaces (Plastics, metals)

  • Vacuum or damp wipe with water and mild detergent and allow to dry; scrub if necessary

Upholstered furniture

  • Remove water with water extraction vacuum
  • Accelerate drying process with dehumidifiers, fans, and/or heaters
  • May be difficult to completely dry within 48 hours; if the piece is valuable, you may wish to consult a restoration/water damage professional who specializes in furniture

Wallboard (Drywall and gypsum board)

  • May be dried in place if there is no obvious swelling and the seams are intact. If not, remove, discard and replace
  • Ventilate the wall cavity, if possible

Window drapes

  • Follow laundering or cleaning instructions recommended by the manufacturer

Wood surfaces

  • Remove moisture immediately and use dehumidifiers, gentle heat and fans for drying. (Use caution when applying heat to hardwood floors.)
  • Treated or finished wood surfaces may be cleaned with mild detergent and clean water and allowed to dry
  • Wet paneling should be pried away from wall for drying

* These guidelines are for damage caused by clean water. If mold growth has occurred or materials have been wet for more than 48 hours, consult with a professional. If you know or suspect that the water source is contaminated with sewage, do not use fans before determining that the water is clean or sanitary and consult with a professional to assist with the cleanup.

† If a particular item(s) has high monetary or sentimental value, you may wish to consult a restoration/water damage specialist.

§ The subfloor under the carpet or other flooring material must also be cleaned and dried. See the appropriate section of this table for recommended actions depending on the composition of the subfloor.

Content adapted from the U.S. Government’s Environmental Protection Agency

Have Questions? Ask Us:

Sign-up for M3 Blog email updates

Please select all topics of interest that apply: