COLLEGE STATION — Rain water is often identified with renewal, growth and cleansing. But flood water, on the other hand, could be associated with destruction, stains and detergent, says a textiles expert.

“Flood waters may contain bacteria from sewage and other sources,” explains Dr. Pamela Brown, a consumer sciences specialist with the Texas Agricultural Extension Service.

And after the recent rains, many Texans may find that water and bacteria have damaged bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets and rugs, curtains, bed and bath linens, clothing, shoes and more.

“The decision to keep or throw away these items depends on the extent of water damage, the replacement cost of the article, the cost of cleaning and restoration and the value of the item to the individual,” said Brown.

Though the task of cleaning flood-damaged items can be overwhelming, Brown said, sound decisions can be made by considering each household item individually. She recommends that all items be repaired at one time and that after cleaning, they be stored in a dry, well ventilated place.


Antiques can be worth the time, effort and expense of restoration, says Brown.

“Pieces that have suffered light damage can be cleaned, reglued, and refinished at home.”

Solid wood furniture can be restored, unless severely damaged. Veneered wood usually requires more cost to repair, unless only a small amount of regluing is required.

Upholstered furniture requires several steps. Consider the cost of time and supplies before choosing to reupholster furniture.


Clothing and household linens, carpets and curtains require immediate attention.

But first, warns Brown, laundry equipment needs to be cleaned and disinfected.

To disinfect the washer, pour one cup chlorine bleach or three-fourths cup pine oil disinfectant into a washer full of hot water. Run the longest wash cycle possible, rinse.

For the dryer, unplug before cleaning. Wipe all surfaces of the dryer drum and dryer door with a cloth dipped in a disinfectant solution made of two tablespoons chlorine bleach in one cup of hot water. Rinse with a cloth dipped in clean water — make sure the cloth is not dripping water.

“Leave the dryer door open until all parts are thoroughly dry,” Brown says. “Remember to disinfect other surfaces such as laundry baskets, work surfaces and containers that may come into contact with clean clothing.”


Mattresses may require costly renovation to make them usable, advises Brown. Though they can be cleaned and renovated, the cost of such a service may be more than purchasing a new mattress.

Pillows made of feather, polyester or foam rubber may also be salvageable. To clean, brush surface dirt off the pillow.

“Heavily soaked pillows may not be cleaned successfully, since water and mildew odors may remain,” she adds.

Feather pillows may be washed by machine or by hand. If the outer pillow ticking is badly damaged, transfer the feathers to a muslin bag that is larger than the pillow ticking. Hint: Stitch an open end of the ticking to an open end of the bag. Shake the feathers into the bag, stitch the bag closed. Wash in warm water 15 to 20 minutes, adding a disinfectant. Rinse with warm water several times. Squeeze or spin excess water from the pillows and dry the pillows in the dryer or line dry.

Polyester fiberfill should be washed by hand in warm water with a low-sudsing detergent and disinfectant. Rinse several times, squeeze or spin off water in washing machine. Fiberfill pillows may be dried in the dryer or line dried. Foam or urethane pillows should be dried away from heat and light.


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