5 Steps to Clean Flood-Stained Fabrics

FloodingFloodingIt's now four days and counting that my home's been without power as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Sure it's cold and dark, but thankfully it's dry. Many in our area weren't as lucky. If you're trying to restore wet, muddy, flood-stained washable garments, follow these tips from the American Cleaning Institute to ensure the best results:

1. Don a pair of rubber gloves and a mask and scrape and shake excess dirt and residue from soiled fabrics. It's best to do this as soon as floodwaters recede.

2. Prewash fabrics in cool water using powdered laundry detergent. Powders are more effective on clay and ground-in dirt stains and cold water will keep stains from setting. Add an enzyme presoak product, like Biz, to help remove protein stains like grass, sewage, and blood. Add it along with the detergent as the washer fills. For the best results, fill the wash to the highest water level but wash small loads so the garments circulate freely. Do wash, rinse, and spin cycles only. Don't put items in the dryer.

3. Pretreat any remaining stains with a laundry prewash stain remover, like Shout Advanced Gel, a 2008 Good Housekeeping VIP Award winner.

4. Wash the garments in the hottest water that's safe for the fabrics. Add more powdered detergent along with a dose of chlorine or oxygen bleach to help remove stains, odors, and mildew and kill germs. If garments are rust-stained, avoid chlorine bleach and use a commercial rust remover, like Rit, according to label directions.

5. Continue rewashing the garments until the rinse water looks reasonably clear. Air-dry them unless you're certain they' re clean and can be tumble- dried without setting any stains.

For more tips about how to give your home a safety check-up after a disaster, consult ready.gov.

-By Carolyn Forte

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