How to Disinfect Sewer Spillage

Cassandra Gailis

Sewer spillage is an unpleasant situation, yet often inevitable after flooding or sewer line failure. Large spills from septic backup or sewer discharge outside the home require a professional contractor to assist with cleanup and disinfection.

Flooding and sewer spills require proper cleanup.


Mildly soiled furniture or drapes may be sanitized professionally. Contact your local upholstery cleaning company to inquire about this service.


Always wear proper disposable gloves and boots. Keep children and pets away from any areas before cleanup is complete.

Smaller sewage spills inside a basement from plumbing malfunction or natural disasters can be cleaned by a homeowner with proper precautions. You should always wear rubber boots and disposable gloves when attempting to clean or disinfect any area affected by sewer spillage.

  1. Allow floodwater to recede before beginning the cleaning process. If the sewer spill is a result of a household drain malfunction, make sure that water is no longer in use and a professional has been contacted to address the plumbing failure. Allow some time for excessive water to drain or use a sump pump.

  2. Locate all areas that have possibly been contaminated with sewage. Many materials simply cannot be disinfected and will need to be thrown away. Carpet, carpet pads, Sheetrock (wallboard), insulation, mattresses, toys, paper products and padded furniture contaminated by sewage should be disposed of immediately.

  3. Wash mud and debris from hard furniture and floors with warm soap and water, in order to remove excessive soil before disinfecting. Use disposable sponges or rags and throw them away afterward.

  4. Prepare the disinfectant by mixing 1/4 cup bleach with 1 gallon of clean water in a large bucket. Use this bleach solution to mop all floors and to wipe hard surfaces affected by the sewer spill. Dispose of sponges and mop heads after use. If you must reuse the sponges, sanitize them with bleach and water, then rinse them thoroughly before using them.

  5. Dispose of gloves used in the cleanup process. Rinse rubber boots outside with clean water and disinfect them afterward. All clothing worn should be removed promptly and washed separately from other laundry. Launder clothes with bleach and hot water, and repeat this if necessary.

  6. Dry all areas thoroughly, especially if there has been flooding, to prevent the possibility of mold. Use large fans or rent heaters from a home supply store specifically for this purpose.