If you’ve been unlucky enough to suffer from flooding, you know what post-flood cleanup looks like. It’s generally hard to find out where to start cleaning or where to start salvaging. How do you know what is salvageable?

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As sad as it may be, some of your favorite things may not be able to be recovered. But rest assured, with big items, you can always add them to your insurance claim. Your insurance claim should be taken care of before you start salvaging large items. Try to leave the area untampered with at first, so your insurance adjuster can get an accurate idea of the damage. This will make getting a good return more likely.

The next step

Once your claim is out of the way, you’ll want to decide what you can salvage and what you can’t. Today, we’re going to go over a checklist that will help you determine and find answers to all your questions. We’ll also talk about how to know what’s salvageable and what’s not so that the process is easier for you. Let’s dive right in, and figure out what to save post-flood.

Post-flooding checklist:

An item is probably salvageable if it meets some of the following criteria:

  • Can be cleaned, decontaminated and dried out
  • Worth spending the time to clean and dry out vs. simply buying a new version
  • Made of a non-porous material
  • Doesn’t have mold or mildew
  • No damage caused to internal workings (i.e. electronics)

If you’re not sure if an item meets these requirements, the examples below can help you sort out your belongings.

The salvageable

When it comes to what can be saved after a flood, there are a lot of items that are always salvageable. Most items that are plastic, metal, glass, or any other “sturdy” material should weather a flood safely. Items inside well-sealed boxes and totes will often be safe from the water. Here are a few more items you should be able to save.

1 – Pots and pans

If your house flooded with water that is relatively clean (i.e. not contaminated with sewage, etc.), then sticking pots and pans in your dishwasher will be a fine way to clean them. However, they should be cleaned differently if the water was contaminated. While there are a few different ways it could be done, soaking your dishes in a small amount of bleach is a simple way to ensure cleanliness.

2 – Books

Often, when exposed to water, the ink in books will run. But if this has not happened to your books, and the floodwaters were relatively clean, your books are salvageable. While the drying process may take a while (depending on the size of the books), they will eventually dry out.

3 – Clothes

Another easy-to-salvage item is your clothes. Clothes are used to being put in water, which means they shouldn’t be any worse for wear after flooding. Simply pop your clothes in the washing machine, and you’ll be back to wearing your favorite outfits in no time. If your clothes have sat in contaminated water grab a laundry disinfectant to add to your wash.

Mattress with mold

4 – Photos

No doubt photos are at the top of the list when it comes to valuable things to salvage. Today.com excellently explains how to salvage your photos.

5 – Other well-stored items

As a general rule, items in air-tight totes or boxes will be easy to salvage. This is a great reason to store your rarely used belongings in air-tight containers. (Especially if you’re storing them in your basement!)

A basket of laundry

The unsalvageable

Let’s take a look now at the unsalvageable items. Generally, items that soak up a lot of water or show water damage easily are not easily salvageable. Both mold and mildew are issues to watch out for when your items have absorbed water. And both of those unwelcome elements can be extremely harmful to your health.

1 – Papers

Papers, especially papers that have been submerged for a while, are rarely worth saving. They tear very easily, and will most likely be a headache to dry out. (And that’s actually a great reminder that you should always store your vital documents in waterproof containers).

2 – Food

For the most part, you’re much safer off disposing of any food that potentially came in contact with floodwaters. Even if it doesn’t seem wet, your health and well-being will thank you for simply buying fresh food – especially if the floodwaters were contaminated.

3 – Paper products

Toilet paper, paper towels, tissues – none of these items are worth saving. Not only would they take forever to dry out if you did try to save them, but they may not even be safe to use once dried. Simply head to your local store and buy new paper products.

4 – Furniture

While some kinds of wooden or metal furniture may be salvageable, furniture with fabric rarely is. This includes fabric couches, mattresses, and pillows. Basically anything with stuffing or other materials is prone to water-logging.

5 – Electronics

Electronic items are probably the most expensive non-salvageable items. As a general rule, if your item has been submerged and/or won’t power on, disposal is your next step. Just make sure that if the electricity in your house is still turned on, you don’t start unplugging cords while things are still wet.

Keep your head above water

When salvaging any belongings, always keep in mind that anything with mold or mildew should be disposed of. Your own health and the health of those around you is more important than any man-made belongings. Don’t be disheartened by your problems but instead appreciate the fact that most belongings are replaceable. And if you need to call in the experts to help you handle the damage, check out what to look for in a water restoration company.