Accessibility Site Accessibility Information Access Key 1 to Skip to Top Navigation Access Key 2 to Skip to the Three One One link Access Key 3 to Skip to City of Winnipeg Main Menu Access Key 4 to Skip to Left Navigation Menu Access Key 5 to Skip to Content area Access Key 6 to Skip to Right Sidebar content area Access Key 7 to Skip to Footer Links
City of Winnipeg
|  Link to the City of Winnipeg French websiteFrançais  |


Flooded Basement: Procedures for Clean-up

Sewage and flood water pose a threat to human health. During cleanup protect yourself from contamination by wearing rubber boots, waterproof gloves, and protective garments. Wash your hands thoroughly when the job is done. People whose immune systems are compromised are considered to be at greater risk and should not attempt this type of cleanup.


  • provide adequate ventilation during the cleanup procedure
  • remove all water, mud, silt
  • discard absorbent materials that have been exposed to sewage and flood water contamination (ie. rugs, carpets, cloth, wall coverings and insulation)
  • thoroughly clean and mop the area starting at the floor and working up (this will remove initial contamination and help to prevent the spread of debris)
  • wash all surfaces (floors, walls, and ceilings) with soap and hot water using a brush
  • disinfect all surfaces with an approved disinfectant (ie unscented bleach, Beaucoup, Sanitol, Ultra Quat, Microban & CA 570, Enviro-Chem, and Buckeye), follow manufacturer’s instructions


Disinfection is important to ensure that disease causing organisms (germs) are destroyed.

A thorough cleaning must be done before disinfection to ensure effectiveness.

Always follow manufacturer’s label instructions and use in well-ventilated areas.

Some suggested disinfectants:

  • Bleach (unscented) (250 ml/23 litres, 1 cup/5 gallons)
  • Ultra Quat
  • Beaucoup
  • Sanitol
  • Enviro-Chem
  • Microban & CA 570
  • Buckeye

For additional information:

Cleaning Flood Soaked Clothing and Bedding

  • Flood-soiled clothing and bedding should be considered contaminated, and should be disinfected as you wash them.
  • Don’t use your washing machine until your water is safe to drink and your sewer line works.
  • Mattresses, futons, quilts, comforters, and pillows cannot be adequately disinfected and should be discarded.

Steps for cleaning and disinfecting clothing:

  • separate wet items as soon as possible
  • take clothes outdoors and shake dried mud and dirt. Hose-off extremely muddy items.
  • soak badly soiled items overnight in cold water and detergent.
  • wash clothes and linens in detergent and warm water if possible.
  • add chlorine bleach to the wash cycle to remove most mildew and to sanitize clothing. Follow the instructions on the bleach container to ensure proper disinfection. Add color-safe (oxygen) bleach to clothes where chlorine bleach is not recommended. However, remember that color-safe bleaches do not disinfect, but will remove stains and odors.
  • put washable blankets (acrylic, cotton) through two complete washing cycles.
  • air dry or use an automatic dryer at proper temperature settings.
  • wool blankets should be put through a dry cleaning process.

Note: Clothing that cannot be washed in this fashion should be dry-cleaned. These items should be air-dried and taken to the dry cleaner as soon as possible. Furs and leathers should be taken in for a professional cleaning.

Food Contamination

When in doubt throw it out. Don't eat food contaminated by flood waters. Throw It Out.

  • fruits and vegetables
  • damaged canned goods (dents, leakers, swollen)
  • products with screw-on lids & crimp caps (ie. pickles, cheese spread, beer & wine)
  • all home canned goods (ie. jams, jellies, sauces)
  • packaged goods (ie. paper, plastic, cloth, cardboard)


  • undamaged commercial canned goods
  • Clean containers with a brush in hot soapy water.
  • Sanitize in a chlorine solution for 10 minutes
    (1 capful of bleach in 4.5 litres/1 gallon of water)

Frozen Foods

Thawed foods can be safely re-frozen under the following conditions:

  • if the food still contains some ice crystals or
  • if the food is thawed, but is still cold (less than 41° F/5° C).

Refreezing partially thawed foods will reduce the QUALITY of the food.

Due to health concerns, foods requiring refrigeration which are left above 41° F/5° C. for more than 4 hours must be discarded.


Sewage and flood waters pose a threat to human health. During cleanup protect yourself from contamination.

To help prevent illness during basement cleanup:

  • wear protective clothing, rubber boots, and waterproof gloves.
  • remind yourself and your co-workers to wash hands frequently, especially before eating
  • avoid direct skin contact with contaminated water and surfaces
  • do not rub your mouth, eyes, ears, and nose
  • do not expose open cuts and sores to contamination
  • change your clothes daily and wash contaminated clothes separately from others

Sandbag Removal

When handling sandbags both safety and health concerns are important. Whether or not sandbags have been exposed to floodwaters, they should all be removed with the same precautions.

  • watch your footing to reduce both injury and risk of drowning
  • wear protective clothing, rubber boots and work gloves.
  • keep open cuts and sores covered and dry.
  • take frequent rest breaks
  • remember to wash your hands well with soap after removing clothes and before eating.

Sand from sandbags should not be used as protective surfacing under children's playground equipment or in sandboxes or other areas where children play.


  • the grade of sand (size of sand particles) is not uniform and therefore will not meet acceptable CSA guidelines for a surface capable of providing impact absorption during a fall from playground equipment
  • the grade of sand may be too fine causing blowing and dustiness on playgrounds
  • the grade of sand may be too coarse/sharp causing abrasions during regular play activities.
  • the sand may contain high clay content and may cause staining to children's clothing (not a health concern)
  • there is theoretical risk of microbial contamination of sand that has been in contact with flood water.

Sand from sandbags could be used for landscaping purposes without posing a health concern. For examples, the sand could be covered with topsoil and seeded, or the sand could be used under sidewalk blocks or cement.

Last update: March 22, 2017