Cleaning up

Practical tips

  • Wear rubber boots, gloves and masks. Wash clothes used for cleaning separately.
  • Clean all hard surfaces (e.g. walls, floors) with hot water and detergent.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after each clean-up session. Keep open cuts or wounds clean and covered with plasters.
  • Heating, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can help dry out your home.
  • Wash soft items (e.g. clothing, bedding, soft toys) on a 60◦c wash with detergent.
  • Put rubbish in bins or in rubbish bags.


  • Call your insurance company as soon as possible and follow their advice.
  • Take photographs before you start cleaning. Ask your insurer before discarding items that can’t be cleaned (e.g. mattresses and carpets).
  • Check with your insurance company before removing flood-damaged items from your home in case they need to be retained or recorded.
  • Your insurance should arrange or pay for removal of all flood-damaged items (e.g. with skips); do not dispose of them in your kerbside refuse bin.

Dead animals:
If you find small dead animals – rabbit, rat, mouse etc – on your property, please double bag them in black sacks and add this to your refuse bin. For larger animals – fox, badger etc – please contact your local district council.

Oil Tanks:
The Environment Agency can recover and make safe oil tanks affected by flooding. If you would like to speak to someone about oil tanks, please call the EA on 0800 80 70 60 and leave your name, address and contact telephone number.

Before you refill your oil tank the EA strongly recommends that you have the tank and system pressure checked by an OFTEC oil tank engineer. For more information please go to
Please continue checking your fuel tanks to make sure levels are not dropping significantly or suddenly. It’s important to check metal components of tanks and pipe work for corrosion and leaks if they are accessible. If you have any concerns or detect a leak, please contact the EA straight away on the number above.

Sand bags
Any clean sandbags can be stored for future use.

If you have sandbags that have been in floodwater, Public Health advice is that you should dispose of them. Wear gloves when handling sandbags, and wash thoroughly afterwards. Do not add sand or sandbags to your kerbside refuse. If you have an individual skip for flood-damaged items, sandbags can be added to that. They can also be taken to your nearest recycling centre (contact staff on arrival).
Sandbags on public land, alongside watercourses or put into position by the Environment Agency should not be moved.

Somerset County Council’s Highways Team, in conjunction with the Environment Agency, removes sand bags from the roads and footways. 

Carbon Monoxide
Never use outdoor petrol or diesel generators, or fuel-driven pumps indoors as the exhaust fumes may contain carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide can be fatal in a confined space such as a house and even low-levels can cause lasting damage to your health.

Heating, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can help dry out your home. Small areas of mould can be removed easily with solutions from in hardware stores. If mould persists or is extensive you may need to contact a specialist cleaner. 

Waste and refuse
Please don’t tip flood waste and debris it back into the rivers. It can block watercourses and cause flooding. You can get rid of it through Somerset Waste Partnership or a private contractor (if you own a business). Businesses must check with insurers or use commercial services to remove waste.
If you have been flooded, contact your insurance company and follow their advice. They should arrange or pay for removal of all flood-damaged items (such as with skips); do not dispose of items in your kerbside refuse bin.
Residents who need help removing larger flood-damaged items from their homes should first check with their insurance company in case items need to be retained or recorded. If disposal of items is approved by their insurer, they should make arrangements through them to have the items removed. 

If usual recycling collections are taking place, waste or flood-damaged food from fridges, freezers and cupboards – with packaging removed – can be added to your food waste recycling container for the next collection. If the food waste recycling container is full, recycling collections have not restarted but usual or emergency refuse collections are taking place, food (with or without packaging) may be placed in black sacks – ideally double bagged – and put in your refuse bin, or added to the “cannot be recycled” skip at a recycling centre.

Pets and livestock
In an emergency RSCPA should be contacted to provide support 0300 1234 999 (24-hr)

For advice on the movement of animals (livestock, domestic and/or exotic pets) call Avon and Somerset Police on 101.

Air pollution: During clear-up some people may be tempted to burn rubbish rather than dispose of it through recycling or waste collection. If fires are noxious from the burning of toxic materials e.g. rubber or foam you should contact your district council and ask to speak to Environmental Health.

Asbestos advice: It is possible, due to their age, that some flooded properties may contain building materials that contain asbestos. There is a duty under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 for an assessment to be made as to the likelihood of asbestos being in any premise built prior to the year 2000 before carrying out any refurbishment works.

For those properties who are insured, the loss adjuster and any subsequent surveyor/builder will be in a position to make a arrangements for an assessment to be made if they deem it necessary.

For those properties that are not insured, Somerset County Council’s Asbestos Team will be available- on request- to attend the properties to make a visual assessment on the presence of any asbestos containing materials. Advice will be given on how to proceed if asbestos materials are identified.  Please contact Sharon Larkman at Somerset County Council to make arrangements for an assessment on 01823 355195 or 07919540853.

Pest Control: For pest control information and advice please contact your district council.

Septic Tanks: For information on how to deal with septic tanks before, during and after flooding please contact your district council or visit: and