Government of New Brunswick

Protecting Yourself When Cleaning Your Home

For personal protection during clean-up, wear rubber gloves and other protective clothing. Avoid direct skin contact with contaminated material. Practice good personal hygiene (i.e. wash hands before eating or smoking) and change outer clothing before entering a "clean" residence.

Water Contamination

  • If your well is currently under water, do not use your well water.
  • If your well water has a persistant odour or discolouration even after letting the water run, and/or you think that your well may be affected by chemicals such as furnace oil, gasoline or agricultural chemicals, do not use your well water for any purpose whatsoever – even if it has been boiled. If this is the case, you should contact the nearest Regional office of the Department of Environment and Local Government at (506) 453-2690 for further information or visit their website.
  • When flood waters have receded away from your well, and chemical contamination is not suspected, all water destined for drinking, making juices and ice cubes, washing fruits and vegetables, cooking, or dental hygiene should be held at a rolling boil for one (1) minute. Water can be boiled ahead of time, cooled and then stored in clean covered containers. Water should be boiled until the well is chlorinated and test results show the water is free from harmful bacteria. For information on how and when to test your water, consult the Department of Environment and Local Government's guide entitled: Well Chlorination and Water Testing for Those Affected by Flooding.

Mould and Mildew

To avoid the health hazards of mildew and mould, follow these important tips.

Water soaked walls and insulation should be removed, and the space and studding allowed to dry thoroughly. Walls constructed of gyproc, plaster or wood will dry out in time but insulation in these walls is no longer effective. As insulation becomes water soaked the weight causes it to settle and compact at the bottom, leaving a large portion of the wall no longer insulated.

Obtain approval from assessors, insurance agents and other relevant agencies before discarding or destroying any furniture or equipment.


Foods Affected by Flooding

To avoid the health hazards of food contamination, all perishable goods, vacuum-packed foods and any other foods affected by flooding should be thrown out. Commercially-canned food properly identified by labels, containers which show no leaks, swelling or rusting at joints or edges should be thoroughly washed and dried. Vacuum-packed foods pose a special hazard due to dried waste material inside crevices and covers. They should be discarded.

Home preserves, meats, fish or dairy products should be discarded as unsafe if they have been affected by flood water. Frozen foods left in a freezer will stay frozen for a few days without electricity if the door is kept shut. These products can be refrozen if ice crystals are still present and the food has not been exposed to flood waters. All perishable food left in a refrigerator more than 24 hours without electricity should be discarded.

Cooking and eating utensils should be cleaned of all deposits, washed with a household detergent or soap and rinsed for at least two full minutes in a mixture containing 15 millilitres (one table spoon) of liquid bleach in 4.5 litres (one gallon) of water. Utensils used for infant feeding should be boiled before use.

Refrigerators, Freezers, Stoves and Other Appliances

Appliances and food contact surfaces should be cleaned as follows:

  • Ensure electrical power is turned off.
  • Clean the unit thoroughly with a detergent solution, rinse with clean water that has been previously boiled, then wash with a solution containing one-half cup of Javex or similar product in nine litres (two gallons) of water.
  • Allow to dry with door kept open.

Any appliance that has been partially or wholly immersed in water is no longer insulated.. It cannot be dried without removal. A qualified service technician should be contacted before the appliance is put into service.


Hazardous Products

Household hazardous products, such as pesticides, can also cause problems. Contaminated items and surfaces should also be cleaned. Although small amounts of household hazardous products or agricultural products can be placed in plastic bags and discarded with domestic garbage, significant quantities should be handled differently, under the advice of the Department of the Environment.

Basements and Rooms

It is important to use a good soap or detergent, "elbow grease", and lots of hot water when cleaning.

Walls, solid floors, and ceilings should be thoroughly scrubbed with a good detergent or soap and water. Avoid household bleach. Organic content and pH in flood waters as well as contact time required for bleach to kill microorganisms may render bleach ineffective. For significant flood or water damage, you may need to consult with an air quality specialist or professional cleaner.

Water and wastes can be removed by pumping, pails, shovels, etc. Wastes should be buried at least 15 metres (50 feet) away from the source of any water supply. Lime may be used to cover wastes before covering with soil. This advice applies to all waste disposals in the following section. Oil or petroleum products are usually removed with Varsol or similar products.

After cleaning, open doors and windows to air thoroughly and help the drying process.

Household Furnishings

Solid wood or metal furniture can be cleaned with a household detergent solution, wiping clean and then wiping dry. Furniture should be left to dry outside before furniture polish may be applied where needed. Upholstered furniture and mattresses affected by flooding should not be used.

For further information please contact your local Public Health Inspection Office.

(506) 549-5550
(506) 737-4400
(506) 453-2830
(506) 856-2814
(506) 273-4836
(506) 658-3022
(506) 325-4408