If your home is hit by a flood from natural causes or man made causes (like broken or leaking water lines), you might be overwhelmed with where to start your clean-up effort. Most people don’t necessarily think of the clothes closets first, but there’s a good reason to make them a priority – clothing that is subjected to flooding can often be saved if you act quickly.
Clothing restoration is one area where your dry cleaner can come to the rescue. Saving your favorite pieces of clothing after water damage depends on several factors, like the type of water, the length of time they’ve been wet and just how badly they were affected. Even so-called clean water contains bacteria that must be immediately removed and, if the water damage includes impurities such as soil, mud or sewage, there are additional steps to be taken.
Caution: All dry cleaners are not knowledgeable or equipped to properly and safely restore contaminated clothing. Your best bet is to find a qualified specialist in textile restoration like a member of the Certified Restoration Drycleaning Network (CRDN).
Data shows that it costs about 18 cents on the dollar to restore a garment vs. buying a new one. Certain treasured items, like wedding gowns, military uniforms and vintage pieces, cannot be replaced, so it is well worth your while to take the following precautions to save your favorite clothing from the dumpster.
NOT YOUR TYPICAL LAUNDRY DAY
After you’ve separated out items that cannot be washed, take the items outside and do the following:
- Sort the soiled items as soon as possible into two groups – whites and colors – to avoid coloring dyes from the non-whites staining the white ones.
- Do not leave dirty, contaminated clothing in a wet pile and do not store in a plastic bag, which encourages mildew growth.
- Any items that cannot be cleaned immediately should be spread out or hung up and air dried individually.
- Brush off the clothing as thoroughly as possible before heading to the textile restoration dry cleaner.
THE DRY CLEANING PROCESS
Now it’s time to take the items to a clothing restoration expert who can offer odor and mold remediation. The solvents used in the cleaning process, along with the flushing action and steam used in the finishing method are extremely effective in reducing bacteria to safe levels.
The items that can be restored after a flood may surprise you. In addition to clothing, you can take in towels, hats, draperies, bed linens, rugs, stuffed animals, luggage and furniture. Don’t overlook leather and suede items, purses, belts, hats, and shoes and boots, from high-fashion to sneakers.
If any items are unable to be salvaged and restored, your clothing restoration specialist can inventory them for insurance purposes.