Determine the need for permits and/or insurance. Depending on the amount of damage, permits for hauling, disposal and structural repairs may be required. Check with local authorities before commencing any work. Banks or municipalities may require insurance.
Seek out the source of any foul odors. This can be decaying food, garbage piled in bags, mold or dead rodents or other animals. Contact vector control if you find live rodents or insect pests. Contact exterminators if you find large numbers of ants, roaches or bees, because these are not easily removed by a single insect bomb.
Rent a dumpster. Use a rollback dumpster for large quantities of garbage. Remove decaying garbage and trash remaining in all rooms. Wear protective gloves, masks and eyewear. Wear long-sleeve shirts, jeans and boots. Have the dumpster ready when you remove the garbage.
Fumigate and disinfect the house to remove mold, mildew and odors. Open windows to allow air into the rooms for ventilation.
Remove any abandoned furnishings. Consider donating anything that is still usable. Dispose or destroy damaged or broken furnishings. Dispose of clothing left behind as there is no way to tell what is in or on the clothing. Dispose of food items. Canned items can be donated.
Evaluate the extent of damage. Look for holes or cracks in walls, floors and ceilings. Look for water damage in the bathroom and kitchen floor, as well as in the ceilings below these rooms.
Inspect the pipes and outlets for visible damage. Water marks on ceilings or walls indicate potential water pipe or sewage problems. Dark discoloration around electric outlets indicates possible burned wiring.
Unplug the refrigerator. Dispose of any food items left inside. Clean the interior thoroughly with a bleach and water solution. Leave the doors open to allow air into the unit. If the doors are closed, mold can form inside.
Clean appliance surfaces with a bleach-based cleanser to eliminate bacteria. Use commercial-grade cleaners for hard-set stains or grease.
Clean floors, starting at the top floor and working down through each successive floor. This ensures you are not tracking dirt into cleaned areas. Vacuum rugs with stain remover. Remove any rugs that are too soiled after vacuuming.
Paint the walls and ceilings, starting at the top floor to avoid tracking through finished areas.