Sewage is one of the most messy and dangerous kinds of water intrusion disasters. Raw sewage contains multiple disease causing pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, parasites and funguses. For large scale sewage cleanup, you should call a professional. If you are dealing with a small scale problem like a toilet overflow, you can clean it up yourself. Just be aware of potential hazards and take smart steps to stay safe.
- Always wear gloves, and sanitize the bottom of your shoes afterward.
- Wash your hands and clothes when the job is done.
- Use disposable rags or paper towels for cleaning sewage spills or any body fluids. Never reuse sponges, towels or cotton rags after a sewage cleanup.
Good old household bleach is great for sanitizing hard surfaces, and for dealing with small sewage cleanup tasks.
- In a ventilated room, add 1 cup of non-concentrated bleach (1/2 cup concentrated) to 1 gallon water
- Apply bleach solution to surface; let stand 5 minutes.
- Rinse thoroughly and air dry.
Remember bleach is a toxic chemical, handle with care and take these precautions:
- Never use bleach undiluted.
- Never mix bleach with other chemicals or cleansers.
- Fumes from bleach are harmful and have been found to cause asthma. Prolonged breathing of fumes should be avoided. Always use gloves when cleaning with bleach.
Carpets, cushions and fabrics
If porous materials like carpet or upholstery have been soaked with sewage, the wisest course is to dispose of them. But if the item in question is a cherished rug or upholstered chair, there are steps you can take in an attempt to salvage it. Bear in mind that it might not be completely sanitized or disinfected!
If infants, the elderly, or others with compromised immune systems are likely to come in contact with a rug or upholstered cushions that have been soaked with sewage, you should remove it from their living space altogether, even you have cleaned it to your best ability.
Bleach may be ok for some fabrics. It’s inexpensive and readily available. Test it on a small area first, and see if you can live with the color change that most likely will occur.
Other non-chlorine disinfectants are on the market, and many claim to sanitize carpets, but be aware they may not be effective against the full spectrum of pathogens that sewage can contain. Read the labels and follow the directions.
Steam cleaners are great for sanitizing and disinfecting hard surfaces, and are often regarded as the best option for sewage contaminated porous or fabric materials too. Steam cleaners are also sometimes referred to as dry vapor cleaners. These are not truly “dry” but they do generate very low moisture vapor and very high heat. Be aware that prolonged contact with liquid disinfecting solutions and high heat can destroy the glue and backing of your carpet.
Why your washing machine isn’t the best option
Household water heaters and dishwashers do not generate the scalding high temperatures needed for sanitizing. You also want to avoid contaminating your washing machine! If your contaminated item is small and can withstand it, you could consider washing it in a sink, then boiling it in water.
If you are contending with a large scale cleanup, you should hire a professional restoration company like RestorePro. We have the know-how, the safety gear, equipment, and industry-approved sanitizers to deal with an array of contaminated surfaces. We can also advise you on your best approach to sewage spills.
Emergencies never happen at convenient times. That’s why our insured contractors are available round the clock, 365 days a year. Let RestorePro help get your life back to normal! Call us at 1-800-847-0114. We have been serving Massachusetts and New Hampshire since 1997, and are the region’s most trusted damage restoration resource. Visit us on Facebook to find out why so many customers turn to us first, for all their after-disaster needs: https://www.facebook.com/RestorePro911/