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The Web Hunterdon

Karen B. DeMarco, Department Head/County Health Officer


314 State Route 12
County Complex, Building #1
Flemington, NJ 08822-2900

Hunterdon County Department of Health

Environmental Health Services



Thorough cleaning is the best protection against disease hazards from sewer backups that flood basement living areas. The general use of disinfectants, after cleaning may have some benefits in controlling odors, but are most useful in special applications on toys or food containers where there are special risks. Disease hazards are not great if good hygiene is practiced. It is essential that persons engaged in cleanup work thoroughly wash hands before eating or handling food.

After the water has been removed or drained back into the sewer system, some cleanup guidelines are as follows:

  1. Floors and walls should be cleaned thoroughly and scrubbed with detergent and water. A mild solution of chlorine bleach may be added to the scrub water to help remove offensive odors. Open windows and doors to allow for ventilation and drying. soiled carpeting should be removed and discarded.
  2. Food: Anything loose and unsealed, such as potatoes, should be discarded. Hermetically sealed containers (such as canned goods) can be cleaned with a detergent/water solution, rinsed, and then soaked for 1 minute in a chlorine bleach solution (use 1/2 cup regular household bleach to 4 gallons water).
  3. Personal belongings (such as clothing, rugs, laundry, etc.) should be either washed and dried or dry cleaned before use if they have become soiled.
  4. Hard surfaces (such as furniture) should be thoroughly cleaned with detergent and water and wiped with a chlorine solution.
  5. Toys and similar items used by small children that have been immersed should be discarded unless they can be disinfected in boiling water or a chlorine bleach solution.
  6. If upholstered furniture has been placed or lightly soiled it may be made usable by cleaning; however, nay over-stuffed furniture - mattresses, etc. - that have been soaked should be discarded.


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