There are few things more emotionally distressing – to say nothing of financially difficult – than cleaning up a home after a flood.

Finding badly damaged, much-loved items is particularly heart-breaking.

Yet even the unprepared should take heart: while some damaged items will have to be thrown away, others can be restored.

Clothes and linen

Homeowners should only consider cleaning such items if they know their property's water supply is safe to drink and the sewer and septic tank lines work.

Clean and disinfect washing and dryers before using as well.

Clothes and linen should also only be restored if they weren't damaged by flood water sewage as this damage can result in several health issues even after items are fully cleaned.

Finally, only consider restoring clothes if the water damage is minimal.

Hose or shake out mud and dirt from clothes before adding to the washing machine with chlorine bleach, which should ensure mildew is removed.

Chlorine bleach may damage some clothes however so in this case, try pine oil cleaners as a sanitiser.

Water-damaged leather items will most likely need a professional clean.


Technology means photos no longer need to be printed for albums or picture frames while mobile phones or computers nearly always have electronic backups of such items.

Such backups are definitely helpful when printed photos are damaged after a flood.

But it's still worth knowing how to restore such photos, especially older ones taken before mobile phones and computers were invented.

Aim to keep the photos wet after the flood, as drying out will result in them sticking together.

At the same time, photos shouldn't stay damp for more than a few days.

Gently rinse dirt off the photos in clean, cold water and carefully separate them, before laying the images on a paper towel to dry out.


Separate wet book pages with paper towels or alternatively, use a hair dryer or fan to do so.

Either way, never force paper pages apart.

If the book has a musty smell after being separated and dried, keep it in a cool, dry area for several days.

If the smell still lingers, keep the book inside a plastic container filled with baking soda to absorb the odours.

Finally, place the book under a heavy item for several days to flatten it out.