How to Disinfect After Sewer Problems in a Basement

Cleveland Van Cecil

The basement of a home is highly susceptible to flooding. Sewage backup during flooding is also common, making cleanup difficult, as well as dangerous.

Repeated basement flooding can cause serious damage.

Taking safety precautions will keep you from getting sick during the cleanup and allow you and your family to go back to using the area after the floor is clean and dry.


Put on rubber coveralls, boots and gloves and wear a fine-grade respirator during the cleanup to minimize contact with sewage. Call a professional to look at your basement if flooding occurs more than once. Waterproofing or a sump pump could alleviate the problem.

  1. Call your utility service providers immediately after the flood to determine whether services should be cut off during the cleanup. Turn off the electricity to the basement by flipping the circuit breaker. Use hanging lights to prevent shock. If the circuit breaker is in the basement, do not wade through the water to get it. Call your service provider.

  2. Throw away absorbent material such as books, medicines, stuffed toys, carpets, rugs, mattresses and pillows if they are saturated. Thin washable materials such as sheets and pillowcases may be washed, but you may consider throwing out all materials that got wet. Clear the floor to make mopping easier.

  3. Use a trash pump, which is a motorized water extractor, or buckets to remove water from the basement. Call a plumber or drain-cleaning services to check for clogs in the drains. Also call your health department for guidelines regarding sewage water disposal. Pumping sewage into nearby lakes and streams is often prohibited.

  4. Mix 1 cup of chlorine liquid bleach with 1 gallon of water in a bucket. Fill another bucket with warm rinse water.

  5. Wash the surfaces that were covered with the floodwater. Use a mop dipped in the bleach water. Dip the mop in the rinse bucket, and then wring it dry before dipping it again in the disinfectant solution.

  6. Open any windows to the basement and run a circular fan to dry the basement and prevent mold. Run a dehumidifier to remove any remaining moisture.